Tag Archives: Image Comics

DREAM POLICE #1 REVIEW – It Ain’t Quite Dreamscape or Dragnet – IT’S BETTAH!

dreampolice_1DREAM POLICE 1 (Preview Orders NOW, In stores April)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image (Joe’s Comics)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

If DREAM POLICE seems familiar, give your brain an extra special treat tonight for remembering a title from nine years ago. I was pretty impressed at myself for remembering that far back. In addition to comics I write and read a few ten thousand other words each week while on the clock for “The Man.” There’s a reason my memory was able to conjure this title, the publisher, the year and hell even the cover when I closed my eyes without the aid of Google; it was an awesome comic implosion. Not an explosion, that leaves behind marks and shrapnel – evidence it existed. DREAM POLICE before it vaporized in one issue like a nuclear blast showed us a take on the world of the nocturnal that’s the antithesis of the standard set by SANDMAN.

I had to know if I was right, so I went back to my email from whence this preview came and scribed the following…


Is this in any way related to the Icon story from like 10 years ago? 


We did a one-shot at Marvel Icon, which didn’t get very much promotion, I think it was marketed to about ten people, and thus died on the vine. 

 I always wanted to revisit that universe and revive that book because I think it’s a lot of fun and I liked the characters.  It had kind of a Dragnet in the Dreamscape vibe to it that appealed to me enormously.  So one of the first things I wanted to do with Joe’s Comics was to revert the book back to us and reboot it once we’d established the line as its own thing. 

 I also fell in love with Sid’s work and wanted to bring him in on this before anyone else could grab him once Apocalypse Al comes out. 

 Point being, it’s a fresh start, a reboot and new beginning, and a great place for folks to jump in.


Not only did Joe answer my question with the same hyper yet easily digestible detail he puts into his work, he also just half wrote the review.

However, I don’t think Joe’s analogy can stand on it’s own. Let me clarify and translate for the younger generation. Dragnet was a detective drama from the 1960s, it starred Colonel Potter from M-A-S-H and television’s first character suffering from Asperger’s, Joe Friday. Joe Thursday, one of our two stalwart detectives of DREAM POLICE, is not suffering from crippling deadpan nor stuffed into a seersucker suit. Likewise his partner is not Col. Potter, yet the much hipper and constant deliverer of snappy dialog, Frank Stafford. There’s a sadism to these two characters that comes from policing the denizens of dream land. If I had to equate them to two other cops, I’m going with the characters from the American version of Life on Mars.

Dreamscape is was a movie from the 80s where psychics were popped into people’s dreams to consciously control the outcome. I’ll half buy this in the sense that Joe and Frank are certainly in control, but I think the comparison marginalizes the complex world and set of rules Joe (the writer) has set for the book. In Dreamscape dreams are but a vapor – a place conjured by the dreamer that disappears when the dreamer awakens. In DREAM POLICE this world exists separate from the Dreamer. See, we aren’t the true denizens of this dream land, but rather mere transients killing time until morning. The true inhabitants that Joe and Frank need to keep in line are the makers of our dreams. If anything I would compare this landscape to Albert Brook’s Defending Your Life where angels are the worker bees of purgatory, a place that feels very much like home. DREAM POLICE’S landscape is just as familiar; it’s an amalgam of all American cities replete with appropriate landmarks. The makers of our dreams are trollish craftsman that build the scenes, shape changers who play the part of our desires and  of course Johnny Law who keeps them all in line.

I found this all fascinating as the two went on calls, made supernatural collars and even had a run in with the top hat wearing toothy maw gentleman nightmares. Then Joe goes and throws a twist at the end. I don’t need to spoil it here, but it adds a third level to the book that makes you question whether you were just dreaming.

On the art, Joe’s right, Kotian does an amazing job. However, I can not tell a lie, I did not get the full effect. No one’s fault…well…except the archaic nature of the comic retail model. See for a book to make it to store shelves it must be issued in Previews. Previews comes out 3 months before the books are published. Previews gives shit details on what the book is about, so retailers have no means to separate the wheat from the chafe and ordering becomes a game of Russian Roulette, especially with #1s. So, it’s up to reviewers like myself to look at books while they are still in production so retailer’s decisions can ultimately benefit you when you walk into he shop. On one hand it’s awesome, we get to see liner notes, editor cut sheets and other behind the scenes detail usually reserved fro deluxe compilations. There are a few times, my review of the rough cut even swayed the final direction, as was the case with Diggle & jock’s, SNAPSHOT. I, and my review cohorts gushed so much over the black and whites the boys just skipped the coloring. On the other hand, I don’t get to see cool stuff like…color and rich fine Corinthian inks. So, yes, from what I saw of Kotian’s work in skeletal form made me beyond intrigued to see how much richer the details of this world become once the finish and polish is applied.

Joe’s Comics continues to be a welcome beacon for new comic fans. It’s separatist view of titles keeps constraining continuity off the table while an eclectic mix of themes can satiate the thirst of most readers’ favorite genres. I will say though, the universe has a gap. All of the protagonists in this universe are maudlin solitary sufferers. I’d like to present a challenge, I want to see a family book. Not the dysfunctional families of SIDEKICK or PROTECTOR’S INK, I mean a true family, an intricate lattice of inseparable personalities nor matter how dystopian their trials and tribulations become. Or don’t, I’ll still pick up every damn issue until Joe stops writing them.

APOCALYPSE AL 1 REVIEW – Retailers and Readers Will Rejoice at New JMS Creation

apocalypse-al-01webTHE ADVENTURES OF APOCALYPSE AL 1 (Release February)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Publisher: Image – Joe’s Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

As much as I love JMS’ writing, there’s something that else that compels me to play a megaphone heralding his work – candor. Joe is one of the last strongholds of no bullshit, he tells it like it is even when it comes to his own foibles. Our steady stream of bitching about delays (THE TWELVE), boredom (SUPERMAN walking) and continuity cataclysm (totem SPIDERMAN) are all subjects Joe will gladly bend your ear on for hours and never place scapegoat shields in front of him. It’s important to understand this fact when reading APOCALYPSE AL because Joe is once again taking a no bullshit approach to correcting a common comic book cluster fuck – retailer ordering.

Not to belabor the point, but I think a bit of context is in order. Retailers must order books months ahead of time from a little book called Previews in most cases. Previews offers not a morsel of actual information about books, each title is articulated with 50 words of pure Public Relations pabulum. To leave retailers and ultimately readers further in the dark, publishers place gag orders on folks like yours truly so we can’t open the kimono on pieces until release date in stores. A few publishers, OK one, Titan Comics, has broken this model by at least giving reviewers open speaking rights about books when they are about to come out in Previews. And you know what, it’s worked. They’ve gone from 0 to some big sellers in a short time through this open information sharing. Now, Joe’s Comics is taking the same approach, but expanding it several thousand fold. Not only has Joe thrown reviewers worldwide an issue of APOCALYPSE AL, but retailers will also be getting a copy this Wednesday BEFORE they have to submit their February Previews’ order. Everybody loves free shit, I predict the simple good will of this gesture alone will help Joe’s Comics move more copies than any of the other #1’s from the imprint released this year.

All right, I’ll get off my soapbox, let’s talk about the actual book. When last we left Joe’s Comics I had reviewed my NYCC copy of PROTECTORS INC. Not a bad book, but parts and purpose left me scratching my head. Again, I say “not a bad book,” but that’s a relative statement. Other Joe’s imprints like TEN GRAND and SIDEKICKS are spectacular books, so PROTECTORS had a very high benchmark to live up to. Even though, I only went through a B&W version of APOCALYPSE AL, I’m putting it up on the spectacular shelf.

I’ll skip the PR blurb, because when you read it you’ll have a hard time discerning between APOCALYPSE AL and TEN GRAND. Both deal with the mystical and things that go bump in the night. Annnd…right there is where we end the comparisons. Superficially, Al is a woman (aka Allison) where our hero of TEN GRAND is a dude. Dig a little deeper, Al is a late twenty-something serving an ancient family legacy to keep the world safe from demons. Joe, the hero of TEN GRAND is serving the world to meet his own ends of salvation for him and his deceased ladylove. Plus Joe is a dude in his late thirties/early forties. Anyone with enough time on this earth knows the difference of mindset a twenty-year age gap brings, even if we’re too fucking stupid to realize it when it comes to second marriages. Salty versus sweet would be the culinary description between the two protagonists.

There’s also a geographical shift between APOCALYPSE AL and TEN GRAND. TEN GRAND is all New York, a dark and gritty land suffocated by grittier people who bathe in a brutal honesty with one another and life itself.  Al is all L.A. baby; the demons have all the permanence of a back-lot set and are as equally three dimensional. Al is fully realized, but she’s leagues of happy happy joy joy above Joe. There’s something about constantly being exposed to the sun that makes people infinitely happier and far more optimistic about life even though Al mainly deals with and in death.

Quirky side characters make for better main players. It’s for this reason I beg for character parts versus leading man roles in my annual trip back to the footlights of community theater. Bit parts have the best lines and are often remembered long after the main characters fade into the memory ether. Al has a whole host of these friends that help her on her way to uncovering the absconding of an apocalyptic set of keys that will tarnish Tinsel Town and eventually the rest of the world (kind of like the Kardashians have already). A dead LAPD cop feeds Al intel, and is the voicebox for the shadow organization that has been feeding her father and his father before him jobs against the paranormal. She has a homeless seer with no filter on his prognosticating so Al gets ten times more mundane information than actual leads or clues.

I think (hope) I’ve said enough to entreat retailers into stocking the shelves with the next Joe’s Comics creation. If not, let me say that JMS has given us a strong yet still feminine protagonist. She is as equally cavalier as serious, and is just as conscious of her style as her character. As a man married to a shoe connoisseur, I’ll give JMS uncanny accuracy as Allison gets lost in a dream where she’s a temp forever stuck in sensible footwear. Kotian does a great job with expressions in this book. JMS deals on many emotional planes when he writes so getting the facial structure to deliver snark coupled sincerity is no small feat, especially when some of the faces are half rotted or from a nether realm.

I’m saddened by the fact this is only going to be a 4 issue miniseries. Apparently this book was in line with some special partnership for MTV Geek. Don’t know, don’t care – I barely knew MTV Geek existed before it went away. I’m really pissed because there could be a great intertwining between this book and TEN GRAND, the yin and yang of demon hunting would give a nice waft of cohesion in drawing the Joe’s Comics universe together.

Sorry, I’m not an editor, just a reviewer. BUY THIS BOOK, you’ll love Al instantly and will be totally on board with the ultimate antagonist that appears in the final panel.



SEX CRIMINALS 3 REVIEW – Biting into Apple’s Censorship Issues

sexcriminals3SEX CRIMINALS #3
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

For the first time in three years, I am ashamed to be an Apple user. While I love my iMac, Mac Air, iPad, Apple TV and the iTunes experience (the inception point for the Apple device switch from Windows), I am beyond livid on the Good Taste Gestapo’s choice to omit SEX CRIMINALS from the purchase lineup.

Sure, if one just looked at the title, you would expect a tour of the pedo bear picnic, or the secret diary of Rapey McRaperson. Thank goodness Fraction and Zdarsky put pictures, words and other details inside this book like a plot that has nothing to do with our traditional definition of sex crimes after the cover.

If someone on the modern-day Warren commission decided to take a look inside in the book what they would find is one of the most honest and touching explorations of human sexuality slathered with the trappings of great sci fi, mystery and adventure. SEX CRIMINALS is an honest and engaging delight that can titillate traditional comic fans while bringing in a slew of new readers (i.e. women) if people simply get past the puritanical prickly sensation we get from the association of the words sex and criminal.

I didn’t know what to make of issue 1. Here I was, reading about a young woman describing the sexual awakening of her even younger self. Young men hold the female species at arm’s length because we find them to be so very different from us. Society doesn’t help in this regard, teaching women repression while teaching men reckless abandon with our naughty bits. Fraction dispels the rumor that female desire doesn’t exist, but does regale the truism that women are far more reserved when it comes to discussing the most holy of holes. I laughed as our protagonist Suzy fumbled through first crushes, first touches and first blushes. I was then flabbergasted when Fraction made the climax of these explorations her super power. When Suzy cums, the rest of the world stops. There was a movie back in 1980 starring Pam Dawber and Robert Hays called “The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything,” where Hays stops time to do bawdy nonsense like Scott Baio did in “Zapped.” SEX CRIMINALS is the reality of this power, but also packs in true and not just insipid humor. As Suzy tries to learn about sex from friends, and thinks her experience is normal, we realize just how alone she actually is in the world. That’s when the laughter stops and the heart of this title kicks into full gear.

Then Suzy met Jon, a man suffering from the same “affliction.” Issue 2 explored Jon’s experience with this wonderful gift. Here is where we see how men and women process puberty differently. Suzy was amazed by this time-stopped world, imbibing the color and sound, simply content to just be inside in her rapture of what she dubbed The Quiet. Jon called it Cumworld and used it as an excuse to get his hands on as much porn as possible at the local smut shop.

The story is not told in the same linear fashion as my synopsis. All of the exploration and our two protagonists falling in love only happens after a scene in the present, when the two enter a bank bathroom, get their freak on, and then decide to make Cumworld their personal ATM. Issue 3 reveals, though, that these two are Robin Hoods, not robber barons. They are trying to get together enough scratch to save the library Suzy works at. Jon is also using this as an excuse for a little comeuppance against this institution that has made his workday a living hell for so many years.

Issue 3 reveals more about Suzy and Jon’s relationship while unveiling the impetus for the plan we’ve been watching in action for the past two issues. The big reveal, though, is that Cumworld is not Blue Lagoon; there are others on the island that are more organized, brutal and really pissed off that Cumworld has multiple denizens.

I guess if I was a complete moron who believed society is comprised of other morons who need to be told what to do I could rationalize Apple’s decision not to carry this book. After all, if you just look at the title and read the first page of issue #1 this is pretty salacious stuff. Sure, SEX CRIMINALS is not as salacious as the thousands of movies that simulate fucking available on iTunes, not as salacious as the millions of pages of porn one can access from their Safari browser, and not as salacious as the Blu-Ray cum bonanza one can upload to iCloud, but it still pretty risqué for a comic. Oh wait, I’m sorry – I forgot about books like CROSSED or anything written by Alan Moore ever that can be easily accessed via Apple digital. Never mind–Apple is simply kowtowing to public frenzy versus making an informed decision.

As a staunch libertarian I find all censorship deplorable, but as a man entering my parenting years I understand how digital items can be easily accessed by children. I ask Apple, though, to focus on areas where kids are actually playing in the digital playground. As I watch my godson look for Minecraft videos and receive a plethora of suggested Minecum videos, I wonder if we should be looking at other places in the Wild West of the World Wide Web that kids are actually inhabiting, instead of places primarily occupied by the middle-aged. Look to places where smut is free with no gatekeepers versus areas that require purchase passwords, and parents should be policing to begin with. I ask them to look, truly look, before they leap with the banhammer ready to strike.

New York Comic Con 2013 Day 2 Report

cosplayersIf you missed my first Con Report from this years’ New York Comic Con follow this link here and then come back and read this second chapter in my trek! Day One ruined my feet; this is what happens when one dresses for style versus comfort. I applaud the Cosplay girls (and I guess some of the guys) who hit this thing in seven inch fuck me pumps. Though to be fair, they spend most of the day posturing and posing whereas I moved across the entire center between Artist Alley and the Main Floor to talk to as many creators as I could before the closing bell.

Given the fact my pinky toes were bleeding into my shoes (literally), I took a slightly more relaxed approach to this day. Spending a little more time with creators, banging out a scheduled interview, and actually sitting in on a panel.

First stop though was the main floor while I had some energy!

kill shakespereKILL SHAKESPEARE – I have a personal history with this title. As a theater major in college I grew to abhor the bard, so I have dickishly avoided all requests to review this book that is actually wildly successful and well praised. I asked the guys how they would sway a naysayer like myself to imbibe the three volumes already available, they kindly said, “it’s an awesome action adventure if you like books like FABLES. If you hate the bard, look at your 8th grade teacher and shake you your fist at them for making you that way.” I retorted I’ll bite my thumb in protest or throw a cabbage. Nerd laughter ensues. Pictured are creators Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery.

ryan browneRyan Browne – Ryan was signing some MANHATTAN PROJECTS issues and hocking his new title GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS from Image. This time around Ryan is taking on writing and art duties to tell the tale of super powered narcissist who are charged with policing barn storming farmers who keep trying to launch themselves into now commoditized space. There’s also talking bears and other crazy shit. Originally a Web comic, this hard cover collects the entire series with some surprise guest artists thrown in for good measure. If you’re too cheap to buy the book you can read it online.



dave schulner

David Schulner – Author of CLONE from Image about a protagonist who is part of a government cloning conspiracy. With eleven issues under its belt, the book was just picked up by NBC for a series with David and Robert Kirkman at the helm.





monty nero

Monty NeroDEATH SENTENCE is Monty’s brainchild from Titan Comics. The book explores a world where an AIDS like virus gives you superpowers for 6 months before you shuffle off your mortal coil. What would you do with that precious time and who would try to stop your before your 6 months are up?

Smoke, 2 Tanqueray & Tonics break so shit can get real down in artist alley where no PR wonks are around to keep things moving.

ben-templesmithBen Templesmith – I loved Templesmith’s work on TEN GRAND, but he’s no longer on that anymore. A big to-do amongst con chatter by the way. Here’s Ben doing some great technique with blood work on the page for a commission. He basically spits it through a straw for a true splatter effect. Get a commission, get some Ben DNA. I also like this picture because I feel like I genuinely made him laugh and spit some blood on the table.




peter tomasiPeter Tomasi – Peter worked his career in reverse from editor to writer and frankly I couldn’t be happier. Damian Wayne basically lived in two books in the New 52, BATMAN INC and BATMAN & ROBIN. All along though, BATMAN & ROBIN stood shoulders above for the heart and trueness of a little boy fighting against his gruesome nurture. I tried to get Peter to spill the beans on when the BATMAN & INSERT SOMEONE ELSE HERE would be ending and he said soon. When I asked him if it would be Carrie Kelly, he laughed at me and mimed zipping his lips. You won today Tomasi.



bad karmaBAD KARMA – Kickstarter done good. This 200 page hardcover is the culmination of four creators bringing together their ideas in one beautifully rendered trade. The guys were mum on the overall plot, but I did peruse some of the art and it is beautiful. Pictured are Alex Grecian, Jeremy Haun, B. Clay Moore, and Seth Peck.





JMSJ. Michael Straczynski Panel – My devotion to JMS stories is no secret. We’ve done about 6 interviews together and I always pester him personally when I know a new book is on the way. Here’s the thing though, instead of ignoring me, he actually responds. Granted if it’s a book like EARTH 1 we need to vet things through proper PR channels, but when it comes to creator owned stuff like JOE’S COMICS, the man is a machine of deep and honest responses to even my most ridiculous of questions.

I abhor panels and I hate lines even more. Thankfully they put JMS in a big enough hall there was no line and secondly once the door shut, this was a conversation not some PT Barnum like spectacle like the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY screening (and screaming happening next door).

As much as I’ve “hung” with Joe and read his work, I realize I am but balls deep in one of Joe’s many genres. When he finally opened up the floor for questions the Babylon 5 flood gates opened wide, along with a shit ton of movie questions. There was also some Dutch kid that kept trying to make him eat cookies. I would say I wish I were tripping if it I didn’t feel like I already was. Joe ended the, hell let’s call it what it is, the discussion, with some very uplifting words about following one’s dreams and handing out copies of the newest Joe’s Comics title, PROTECTORS INC #1.

With the panel over and an hour to kill before my Scott Snyder interview soon…

Back to Artists’ Alley I go!

glen brunswickGlen Brunswick – I love talking to creators who offer me a copy of a their book and my quote is already on the cover. To be fair though, I only read issue 1 of Brunswick’s NON HUMANS. We still had a good laugh though. I rectified my 1/5 review and gave the full TPB the review treatment last week. I love the concept of dolls coming to life spurred by humanity’s imagination so I was happy to see the tale come to a close. In addition to volume 2 of NON HUMANS coming out in April, Glen also recently wrote REALITY CHECK, the story of a creator’s super hero coming to life and not having a freaking clue what to do.

daniel coreyDaniel Corey – Author of MORIARTY from Image was selling the recently dropped trade. In Corey’s world, Moriarty wins at the falls and must find meaning without his greatest nemesis. For anyone who read the first two volumes and enjoyed them, help Daniel out by contributing to the volume 3 Kickstarter campaign.





peter davidPeter David – I simply love this man, he hits all the East coast cons and hasn’t seemed to age a day in the 7 years I’ve been pestering him for Ain’t It Cool (An even more remarkable feat at this con giving the recent stroke nonsense. Personally, I don’t buy it, he was Peter through and through) The coolest thing about Peter is that he talks all original properties at his table despite having written one of the best X-titles of all time, X-FACTOR. At this show Peter was all about SIR APROPOS OF NOTHING, the tale of an amoral knight thrust into destiny despite his best efforts to simply make a galleon. IDW has released the graphic novel version or you can read some of those non picture books to learn more about this less than chivalrous knight.

james tynionJames Tynion IV – It would almost be easier to list what isn’t Scott Snyder’s protégé doing right now for DC? Starting as a back-up writer for one of the best runs DETECTIVE Comics has ever seen, he has now moved into the big chair in RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS and the recently announced BATMAN ETERNAL (for more on B.E. read my interview with Scott Snyder). In Artist Alley though, the guys like to talk pet projects; James’ is a web series called THE EIGHTH SEAL where politics is infested by things that go bump in the night.



Scott-Snyder-Rob-PateyIronically I now had to run across the building (make that hobble) for my 3:15 with Tynion’s Obi-Wan, Scott Snyder. I’m not retyping the full interview, just go here to read it.






I’ve been to enough cons now to know when the shift times flip. After my interview with Scott I knew I had an hour to kill before there would be new folks to talk to in Artist Alley. I hunkered down in the press room with my cohorts Ambush Bug and Matt Adler to plan the evening’s shenanigans.

Drunk, I’m now drunk. Fuck you, Ambush Bug. And fuck you Matt Adler for laughing at the lushes. My feet feeling fine at this point I stumble to artist alley in hopes of some last few coherent conversations. All of you have my deepest apologies from this point forward.

ed brissonEd Brisson – While best known for his new Image book called SHELTERED, a tale of the pre post apocalypse gone wrong, Brisson was also at the con showing off some of his pre-discovery titles like MURDER BOOK and COMEBACK.





brian clevengerBrian ClevingerATOMIC ROBO is the name of the book and it is already 8 volumes strong. I know a ton of people who are fans of this little indie that could which is an amalgam of every 80s adventure you could imagine all wrapped into…a robot, so this is shot is for you folks.





unmaskedUNMASKED – Mike Sarro and John Broglia. Another Kickstarter team done good. UNMASKED is about a young journalist going around unmasking new heroes who have no problem with killing. She does it all in hopes for a return to the true golden age of heroes. Get volume 1 now from Arch Enemy Entertainment before volume 2 launches.




joe harris Joe Harris – Last, but certainly not least Joe Harris showed off his Image series GREAT PACIFIC, his IDW X-FILES project and GHOST PROJECT from Oni Press. GHOST PROJECT was intriguing not only for the fact it is being courted for TV, but also it’s just a cool concept about weaponized supernatural beings built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Flash-forward to today and the cadre is unleashed on the world by a few bumbling thieves.

And with that the closing bell rang and I hobbled back to my hotel to recharge for an evening of parties and glad-handing. NY Comic Con 2013 I thank you for an experience I will never forget.


Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Gordon Purcell
Publisher: Image
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)

PROTECTORS INC at the high level is Joe’s Comics answer to the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Naturally though, it has the JMS flourish of cynicism and truth powering the masks. There’s nothing idealistic here. Just like SIDEKICK and TEN GRAND, PROTECTORS INC. takes the traditional superhero tropes and indicts the bullshit black and white moralities that tend to permeate the capes and spandex site.

I received my copy of PROTECTORS INC during New York Comic Con last weekend. Actually everyone who decided to attend JMS panel on writing and well…anything that came into Joe’s head, received a copy as well. Joe didn’t do a hell of a lot plugging of the book, in fact he did a very cursory overview of the entire Joe’s Comics line. That’s a compliment, not a slight. Between advice and frivolity he made the panel about us and our questions. He left the panel by giving all of us a copy to let us go off and draw our own conclusions.

Now, I’ve interviewed Joe about six times over the years, the man is a bastion of candor and honesty. As a fellow Jersey boy, I can’t handle pretense either. If you’re going to say something, just fucking say it. So here it goes. I’m confused. There are many streams feeding into the tributary of the story about people disappearing amidst strange lightning storms and the first superhero The Patriot.

JMS PANEL NYCCIn the world of PROTECTORS INC., capes arrived on the front lines of WWII in 1944. After kicking some kraut ass The Patriot comes home and the next seventy years see the rise of 50 other powered individuals like the beautiful Angel, the machismo endowed Huntsman and a host of others. They don’t get a lot of play in the book, merely serving as exposition fodder for our narrator detective lamenting his very laisez-faire feelings towards the whole lot. In this world there are no caped bad guys, everyone with a power is good (or at least we’re supposed to believe they are) and the heroes serve as more celebrity in the skies than thwarting any real danger. Joe is definitely sending a message here about the corporatization of American ideals (like Times Square), but it might be too early for that. I think we needed a few less characters and a little more why we should care about these fifty fuckbags filling the skies.

I’m not an overly obtuse person, so I think part of my confusion stems from Purcell’s artwork. There’s a CIA agent in the beginning of the book, looks like a middle-aged blonde white guy. His human cargo disappears by lightening.  That’s the last we see of the guy. Now he may very well be The Patriot who simply disappeared ten years ago, but I’m not sure. Next is our detective who looks a lot like The Patriot both in and out of garb and the CIA dude (again assuming they aren’t the same person).

Despite my grimacing on the overarching plot, the book is rife with Joe’s natural dialog and flair for humor. This means I’m definitely in for the first arc. I have a feeling that will give enough time to crystalize why I should care about these incorporated protectors.


jupiters legacy 3 coverJUPITER’S LEGACY 3
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Image
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

While the comic purists like to deride Millar’s work as superficial pastiches, I challenge them to spew their vitriol at JUPITER’S LEGACY. Yes, it’s another story of comic commonalities taken to hyperbole, but now Millar is putting these themes under indictment – and us as well.

I don’t mean “us” as in the comic community (that was 1985), I mean the collective us that is society. This tale of the Great Generation of heroes being dethroned is as much a cautionary tale for now and tomorrow, as it is a tale of what never was.

Western culture is in trouble, whoever doesn’t want to admit this fact better be on the ATF watch-list to survive the great thud when our recessions become full depressions (personally, I ordered my ass some Chinese Rosetta Stone). Western culture is in the same malaise in JUPITER’S LEGACY, but this world has capes to slap them out of the mire – whether through old fashioned tactics or the modern-day pill popping culture inspired “quick fix.” And therein lies the rub and the overarching theme of JUPITER’S LEGACY. The oh so Kryptonian like Utopian is fighting for truth, justice and the American way (including an unwavering belief in “the system”), while his Brother Walter and all of the “kids” in the book truly believe the heroes have the answers to what ails humanity, politics and petty squabbles be damned. Of course the problem with this, as explored in countless Elseworlds, is that the rest of humanity will need to be subjugated and willing to abandon free-will.

So how does this book differ from a KINGDOM COME type tale? The answer is simply generational. There was a proactive nature in KINGDOM COME, where those Gen X heroes looking to supplant the Golden and Silver Age heroes went after what they wanted with gusto and fervor. Now, the kids are lazy as shit. These twenty-soemthings live in a malaise of media consumption and passive debauchery until someone tells them…wait, make that shows them and guides them down the path of succession.

As for this issue itself, this is truly the climax of Freytag’s pyramid. Chloe ends up on the run after a brief visit to move back home turns into an attack on Mr. and Mrs. Utopian from Walter and the rabble rousers. Chloe escapes with her baby daddy through some clever teleportation jumps and some hilarious carnage. The fight between the Utopians and their usurpers is a brutal bag of carnage cleverly played out thanks to Walt’s ability to control the mind. Whether the favorite son of Utopian, Brandon is being controlled by Walt remains to be seen. But for now the appearance is just that Walter is a Rasputin merely whispering kill words to inflate Brandon’s ego and incite him to fry his Father’s face off.

While Quitely draws some stark images during the battle, what really resonated was the quiet before the storm when Utopian was talking to Chloe’s baby-daddy about the plethora of reasons he won’t let a drug pusher raise his grandchild. Again, it’s another societal theme we see all too often these days. How many Baby Boomers are day-care for their kid’s kids or just outright raising them because this generation can fuck, but certainly can’t live with the repercussions?

Another theme that came to light before the lights went out for the old guard was the need of a secret identity. The Utopian is a garage mechanic completely unknown to the world at large, living in a quiet suburb. This is different than the Clark Kent model where he was almost as famous as his secret identity. Utopian lives a true dual life as a simple auto mechanic. I think this makes way more sense than being a reporter. It’s much easier to duck out from a carburetor repair than during a press conference given by the President. He does this as much for sanity as for safety as he so eloquently describes to the man courting his daughter.

Next issue promises to jump us ahead 9 years into the future, and herein is my only complaint with this book and I guess Millar as a whole. There is a certain lack of depth to the Millar World oeuvre. I would say JUPITER’S LEGACY is the “deepest” piece to date given the material, but I know the ride will be over shortly and thus my skin in the game is just as shallow. I would like to see Millar challenge himself at some point with his own consistent and persistent universe, one where it feels as though there’s a long-haul instead of just a pitch for a TV series or movie. I think Millar could truly take his already astounding success to the next level if he just follows the advice of Saturday Night Live by “simmerin down now” just a little bit.


Writer: Ken Kristensen
Art: M.K. Perker
Publisher: Image
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Satirical horror isn’t a new genre, but I’ll say that Perker & Kristensen have positioned themselves as the new masters of uncomfortable and downright dark guffaws.

Regular readers know that my soul is a dark abyss of re-re jokes and laughs at the expense of others. The one thing I often forget though is to let my moral base shine through. In those reviews where I hide my humanity, the fervor I stir is warranted. TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH would suffer the same fate of public ire as the supporting cast confuses Asian nationalities, regresses to Bush era Republicanism and revels in the flaws of others if not for one simple thing: Todd, the ugliest kid on earth. Because while Todd’s outer visage is a reminder why most animals eat their less than genetically favorable young, it’s also a cautionary tale of the human spirit triumphing over a stacked deck of inborn adversity.

Todd’s message would be a bludgeoned cliché if not for the honesty and originality in which this team clubs the baby seal of life. In a world of ridiculous and horrific people, Todd’s ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside being keeps this book terrific instead of a trope. I stayed away from this paper bag headed unknown comedian harken back because I simply didn’t know what to make of the title from the cover. I thought it would be another slice o’ life book that seems to permeate the pet project circuit. I was wrong – so fucking wrong. TODD is a slice o’ life, but it’s utterly fantastical enough to live in the world of comics.

Volume 1. follows the first arc of Todd and the freakshows that drive his eternal optimism and can-do attitude. Todd is appropriately never in on the joke, much like Mr. Magoo. While Magoo suffered from literal blindness, Todd is blinded to how terrible a place the world is. This ability to mire in filth yet allow Todd to take another meaning from his parents, the school bully and the psycho beheading children in town shows an adept use of the English language on the part of Kristensen. Not puns per say, more a rude subtlety to all jabs.

The plot of this first volume is simple, yet woven together intricately. The connective thread is a Ken doll banging Barbie doggie style after the town bully glues their hermaphroditic bits together. Once Todd is framed for this deed, it’s easy to pin the murder of a little girl whose nationality is never quite articulated correctly. She’s Korean, but in the world of Todd she’s also every other form of Asian country when being talked to by the town folks. From this one event, we get a series of mishaps that ultimately lead to Todd being put on death row. The logic is actually there on how A+B=C and it always comes back to those sticky crotched dolls.

While Todd is our moral beacon and narrator it’s really the ancillary characters that make this world shine…or tarnish depending on the depths of your depravity. The reason is that Kristensen and Perker pulled no punches in pummeling typical American stereotypes. It also helps they flushed out rich back stories for everyone. Todd’s Dad is an armchair activist, believing and following the latest TV fads of the moment. From Bush Republicans on FOX news, to a rabid interest in celebrity, Todd’s Dad is that person we all hate at parties who tries to talk philosophical after watching 10 minutes of a subject on TV.  Todd’s Mom is a woman who placed all of her value on her looks. As she approaches the wall of thirty she’s realizing gravity is a bitch and men lose interest once the saddlebags start showing. Even the aforementioned serial killer in town was once the executive producer of KIDS Incorporated before he started his nefarious ways (sadly for all of us he couldn’t have started when he was the actual producer – that way we could have missed both Martika and Fergie’s solo careers). It’s little cultural infusions like this that make Todd even funnier if you’re in on the joke.

The art is cartoony, but that only helps to make the wrong wronger in my opinion. When you see a roll call of the various sub Aryan nations inside prison, it just becomes funnier when they look like they stepped out of a Saturday Morning TV slot. I’ll admit it was also funny they put a child on death row simply because he’s so damn ugly.

There was not one page of TODD THE UGLIEST KID ON EARTH where I broke my smile. I laughed and laughed hard at almost every other page. I don’t mean those conciliatory titters we give writers when they try to make a joke, I mean outright belly aching guffaws.  However, I’m a sick fuck. I find humor in the awfulness of mankind. If you’re squeamish or overly sensitive about…well anything…go read MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC because TODD doesn’t need fantasy to make one believe that the world isn’t bad – he shows us it can be good no matter how bad the world actually is.

SIDEKICK 1 REVIEW: Deconstructing Robin

sidekick01-coverSIDEKICK 1
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Tom Mandrake
Publisher: Image (Joe’s Comics)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

As a child of the 80s I imagined a time when THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS would one day move from “What If” to actual continuity. A day when a Robin, any Robin would actually don the Cowl and take on his own little grunger, gother, emo or hipster as an assistant in short pants. As we all know this is a pipe dream, as soon as characters become too long in tooth a mystical reset button is pushed that forces fountain of youth elixir down the throats of all our heroes. With the exception of Nightwing, it’s virtually impossible for sidekicks to graduate to full-blown heroes.

Not in the Joe’s Comics world though. If you’re looking for a love letter to those that live in the shadow of heroes, look elsewhere. By Straczynski’s own admission in the letter that closes this inaugural issue, he has little love or respect for the mighty tykes put on sentry duty. In short, JMS has never bought the bullshit that kids are competent and disciplined enough to take on the mighty task of saving lives.

Quite honestly, incompetent is the best way to describe a Sidekick’s value sans their hero counterparts. JMS has a definitive dark take on heroes. Not as dark as Ennis, but there’s little sunshine and rainbow unicorn droppings when JMS takes on capes outside of already established brands. Fly-Boy of Sol city is one such fallen angel.

The book starts with optimism to help herald the true nature of a heroics. Sadly this golden age tarnishes quickly when the Fly-Boy’s mentor, the Red-Cowl, is assassinated during a parade of all places. Actually it happens before that. To keep the exposition moving JMS jumps time periods more often than Marty McFly. An opening of heroics in way back when, followed by a present day extorted blow-job for Fly-Boy from a hooker who is more Julia Childs than Julia Roberts. Back to remember when and we see the Red-Cowl, Fly-Boys mentor take a slug to the chest during an honorary parade, back to present and Fly-Boy is drinking himself into a stupor.

Apparently the Red-Cowl didn’t leave his affairs in order and superheroing is a much bigger drain on corporate coffers than Batman ever let on. I’ve always hated the concept of Batman Inc., but then I never considered the tax shelters it apparently provides. Also, being a super hero is a less coveted job than being President. No one and I mean no one wants to step into Red-Cowl’s shoes. No other Playboy millionaires, no even guerilla heroes like Rorschach. No one wants the gig and sadly our friend Fly-Boy sprouts one pube too many to be taken seriously as a Sidekick anymore.

The metaphor is apparent; Fly-Boy is the comic equivalent of so many child stars who ride the wave of cuteness only to grow up with the face of Fred Savage instead of Danica McKellar. These reflections of real life slathered in fantastic always make for the best books and are becoming the running theme for Joe’s Comics.

The book ends with a surprise I refuse to ruin; it will obliterate the aesthetic distance you need to enjoy the pages prior. I will say though, that Fly-Boy’s suffering has been needless.

With only the second offering from Joe’s Comics, we can’t claim Skybound success yet however I can applaud JMS’ commitment to variety over Kirkman’s offerings. Kirkman has been a slow bleed over the years with spin-offs more than original books. JMS is creating universes instead of suns within one contained spiral. Read SIDEKICK for the story, to revel in Mandrake’s pretty pretty pictures and to get in on the ground floor of Image’s true next big thing. TV and movies make or break comic value people, and JMS studios is the only #1’s from Image that have the clout to get there quickly.

P.S.:  +2 creativity and marketing attributes for the QR code driven audio plays of the books that Joe keeps Easter Egging inside his #1’s.

JUPITER’S LEGACY 1 REVIEW: The Entropy of Humanity

jupiters_legacyJUPITER’S LEGACY 1
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
Publisher: Image
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

@RobPatey: Finished ‪@mrmarkmillar‘s JUPITER’S LEGACY #1. “comics, world, selves.LOOK at yourselves and sigh defeat.” ‪#SoulEntropy ‪@ImageComics

Twitter truly is the reporter’s friend in crafting the most concise inverted pyramids. It’s also a wonderful way to harness that final visceral reaction an instant after finishing a book.

Like 1985, Millar once again peels back the first layer of our reality’s onion to expose the pungent truth underneath. Except this time, righteousness and belief in a shiny tomorrow don’t prevail. No, JUPITER’S LEGACY is a mirror darkly reflecting the truths we all feel, but blissfully choose to ignore. We are exhausted in imagination, spirit and morality…and we kind of like it that way. JUPITER’S LEGACY forces us to face the truths of America’s decline from the Greatest Generation to today’s Generation Inert.

We start in the early 1930’s, when America was a nation on the brink of collapse. As bread lines and shanty towns replace the decadent fervor of the roaring twenties, a young industrialist by the name of Sheldon Sampson, who lost everything in the stock market crash, follows a dream…actually a prophecy, to find a lost island that will change the world.

We’ve seen alternate takes on the birth of heroes before, especially Superman. But where Millar zigs against other’s zags is that humanity is the catalyst for the dawn of heroes instead of some damn dirty aliens (Hey, get off my keyboard Lex).

It’s in these initial scenes we see a maturation of Quitely’s style. We’ve been waiting awhile for his return, and I’ll tell you now the wait was worth it. As Sheldon traverses the streets of our fallen nation, Quitely paints the urchin experience in vivid detail and splendor. The traditional Quitely complaint of “ugly” is here, but it’s no longer the character’s faces, it’s now an authenticity of the time period’s scene scape.

Back to the plot, Sheldon dreams of an island that will somehow save the world. So he, his love Grace, his brother Walter, and a reluctant yet blinded by Sheldon’s belief ship crew set sail for tomorrow to become the most powerful heroes the world has ever known.

Before we see what happened to Sheldon and the crew, we are whisked forward to 70 years to meet their children. They gather at a star studded gala event at a club with music that’s too loud, paparazzi who are too hungry, and Superheroes who are anything but.

This isn’t the KINGDOM COME portrayal of superhero evolution; they were bloodthirsty yet still were looking to “save the day” even if it crossed all lines of morality. JUPITER’S LEGACY is far more grounded in reality. Sheldon and all of the original heroes’ progeny are worried about their Q and Klout scores versus saving or changing the world. They imbibe copious amounts of drugs, bitch incessantly that the world offers nothing, and focus more on how their visages appear on Instagram versus elevating humanity to new heights of greatness. If this isn’t an indictment of our celebrity culture I don’t know what is. I could take any of the Golden Age’s kids and instantly transpose them with a bunch of fat-ass alliterated K sisters who are famous because their Daddy helped release a criminal versus having any real merit of their own.

About half-way through the book, one of the next generation laments, “There is just no one cool to fight anymore.” If that isn’t the perfect embodiment of our current propensity to passively protest 140 characters at a time from the safety of our homes I don’t what is. Despite infinite resources at the progenies’ and our disposal, we create excuses versus something tangibly fantastic. Meanwhile the original heroes are out actually fighting whether it’s glorious or not, just as my Grandmother riddled with Alzheimer’s disease still tried to make a difference in the world through volunteering until her body literally crumpled.

It’s during this fight that the original heroes realize they are the last of their kind – only one of their children comes to help them as another cowers off in the distance and tries to pretend he was fighting all along. This is the breaking point for Sheldon, the Superman of the group. In a moment of AUTHORITY level arrogance, Sheldon decides that perhaps it’s time this original team decides to fix their children and all of humanity in the process. This is also the point of schism between the team. Sheldon’s brother, Walter, is OK with letting time pass and if sloth is the direction of choice so be it. The kids were born into this world, they didn’t volunteer for it.

It all ends as most catalysts for change begin…death. Well, I think death. One of the kids decides to imbibe one too many lines of designer drugs and takes a nosedive through a glass coffee table akin to the Draino drinking moment in “Heathers.”

The cynical will attribute the underlying message of this book to a middle-aged curmudgeon state of mind that happens each generation. I disagree; I think this societal malaise on American soil is unique to this time period. Never before have we felt such a collective state of helplessness, which is truly bred in large part from our own cowardice in losing the spoils of consumerism. This isn’t just a theory, it’s an idea that has slipped into the zeitgeist and grown daily. I have a graphic novel coming out soon called AVERAGE JOE. While greatly different in plot and tonality, an underlying thread is this degradation of ambition from the Great Generation to its predecessors. Millar and I are far from the only two who feel this way and with that I can’t believe this many authors independently create work so on theme without it carrying a collective truth.

And with that comes my obligatory critique of JUPITER’S LEGACY. As Sheldon and Walter squabble, I had to question with all of their wonderful powers, now is only the first time they think they should do something? Basically, I felt almost too much of the book is close to our own reality. I have to believe if humans were truly imbued with super powers two generations ago, Obama would not be in the White House today, the world economy would not be collapsing, and our advances in space and science would be light years ahead of our reality. Again, my graphic novel is different. In AVERAGE JOE all of humanity gets some form of Superman’s powers, where in JUPITER’S LEGACY it’s only the team and their children. Also, each have powers that range from super punches to Professor X level reality warping instead of my constraints of the basic five power set. However, even if it was only a small number of people gifted with powers, I believe the butterfly effect would have been greater and it’s shockwaves felt much sooner than in 2013.

This is a nit though, that is easily overlooked given the rest of the book’s splendor. I already mentioned Quitely’s maturation of style, leaving the wrinkles on the clothes instead of every face in the book. Millar has also matured. He has crafted a tale where the characterization is as original as the plot. Where there is more message than sensationalism and shock value. Where the book haunts you for hours after reading it, instead of merely stroking your fanboy boner during the initial read. I pray from the depths of my soul JUPITER’S LEGACY is more than a mini-series. There is so much to explore here, so much character depth to uncover, so much societal reflection to take place, I don’t want to see one moment of it rushed because of page count.

TEN GRAND 1 REVIEW – Joe’s Comics Has Wings Baby

ten-grand-cover-1TEN GRAND 1 (In Stores This May)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Publisher Image (Joe’s Comics)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Layers…when you read a JMS book, the main story is never the whole story. TEN GRAND imbibes this Straczynski staple as it transcends planes both mortal and nether in nature.

Just when you think TEN GRAND is a book about the down trodden, it becomes a book of the damned. Just when you think you’re reading a story about a gun for hire, you realize there’s a much higher power at play. Just when you think this is a story of revenge, you realize it’s truly about love. Just when you think you have everything figured out in TEN GRAND, you realize you don’t know Jack…or to speak more succinctly, you don’t know Joe.

No, I don’t mean Joe Straczynski. We all know him. SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, SPIDER-MAN, RISING STARS, SUPREME POWER… If you haven’t read these books, go now. You’ve been missing good comics. Plus, you’ll have time since TEN GRAND 1 doesn’t drop until May. No, the Joe I refer to is Fitzgerald, the protagonist of TEN GRAND who miraculously leads 3 distinct lives in this series opener. We learn about where Joe is now, where’s he been, and where he is going in perfect exposition form. Once a gun man for the mob, he now works on the side of angels — literally. Where’s he going? Some very very very dark places.

When Joe was “alive” he was in love. So in love he was ready to forego his chosen profession and start anew with his Juliette. Joe takes one last job to get enough cash to get out of town, unfortunately for Joe, but fortunate for readers, this last mark was much more than just a bad person. This mark was actually the embodiment of evil, a demon from the depths of hell that lays waste to Joe and his woman in seconds flat. Instead of crossing over though, Joe is visited by an angel. An angel like we think of them; ethereal, beautiful and presenting Joe with an offer he simply can’t refuse.

Joe is allowed to remain on earth even though his love is not granted the same stay of execution. However, the angel tells Joe that he can have five minutes with his woman every time he dies moving forward. Here’s the catch, Joe must die a virtuous death to be granted these five minutes.

But these are all events from the end of the first issue. TEN GRAND actually begins, in the gutters of the city where the disenfranchised dwell.  Before we learn one whisper about angels and secret pacts, we learn Joe is essentially a champion of the down trodden. Now, even though he’s their champion he’s also a bit of an urban legend. His first client, a young woman trying to find her sister who recently ran off with a group of new-age religious nut bags, is honestly amazed that this man exists upon first meeting. Even more amazing is that her miracle worker is rife with the same salty comments most middle-aged people throw at the young instead of just gruff grunts and nods. This was a great scene to humanize Joe as he applauds the young woman for not overusing the word “like” and also rides her for over using her face as a pincushion. It’s a conversation I’ve heard a million times and truly works in humanizing the book before it goes off into the realms beyond normal human understanding.

So, why TEN GRAND the title? That’s the price to hire Joe for help. Why TEN GRAND as a monetary value? Because as Joe explains to the young woman, it’s not too much to keep people asking for help, but just enough to weed out the nut jobs and those that might ask him to do a job of less than virtuous intent. He doesn’t count the money, because he doesn’t need to. It’s not about the money; it’s about ensuring the sincerity of the task at hand so if things go south Joe is at least guaranteed five minutes in paradise.

From here is where we start to learn of the angels and demons amongst us. Before things get too feathery though, JMS does another great grounding moment by having Joe circumvent a dead-end in his search for the cult by using the language of angels to unlock the truest Easter Eggs the Internet has to offer. Again, it’s not a big moment, but one more amazing beat to make all of the fantastic events feel real.

Templesmith’s art fits the morose tone of JMS’ words to the tea. There’s really not much to dissect or analyze here, Ben is THE MAN to draw TEN GRAND.

Delivery dates have plagued a few JMS titles in the past. There’s no reason to hide it. However, Joe was never fully in the driver seat. Now, it’s truly Joe’s Comics, he’s not just the writer, but also the editor-in-chief setting the schedule as he recently illuminated to me in this lengthy interview. I read this first issue of TEN GRAND way back in January – and I mean a completed cut of the book. You know what; I’ve also read issue 2 and issue 3 is actually already set in rough cut. So I can keep some wonderment from my childhood I respectfully decline reading anything but what’s going to the printer. For the scheduling challenged out there, this means that TEN GRAND is ready with issues today that won’t ship until August. I don’t know of any comic company this far ahead of the game.

I also give you a little whisper of a clue from issue 2. Remember that Angels are first and foremost soldiers and the only thing separating them from demons is altitude.

I’m a JMS fan through and through, but I’m an apologist for no man. I was as pissed off about THE TWELVE as everyone else. Again though, to paraphrase a quote the great Alex Karras in Blazing Saddles, “Writers are but a pawn in game of life.” Hence I think why we see so many writers jumping the corporate ships to reach the shores of autonomous publishing these days.

One part detective story, one part a tale of love, and one part angelic mind-fuck, look for TEN GRAND special editions at C2E2 in a few weeks (lucky bastards, all I have is a god damn PDF) and the full release this May.