Tag Archives: valiant comics

New York Comic Con 2013 Day One Report

Valiant Booth130,000 – Take a minute to absorb that number. This is how many fans descended upon the Javits Center two  weekends ago for New York Comic Con, or #NYCC if you followed the great Twitter hijacking “conspiracy” that brought this geek coveted event into the eyes of the mainstream (read agreements folks, don’t just click “accept”).

The number isn’t as big as the San Diego draw, but the sheer concentration of fan love can’t be denied. When the top selling books these days clock in at 300,000 copies, 130,000 fans paying homage is a fairly dense representation of that love. Sure there were a shit load of girls wearing fuzzy cat ears and tails, widening their eyes and meowing in a reverse anthropomorphism homage to cutesy anime, but the spandex set still clearly outnumbered all.

star-trekKahn…I mean Con, the Undiscovered Country

For me, Cons are about unsung or at least under appreciated talent. I love the stuff done by Marvel and DC, but they get more than enough mainstream press they really don’t need any more. The Marvel booth was practically impenetrable as fans lined up to sniff the seat of Agent Coulson’s Stingray convertible. Also, Marvel really doesn’t give two shits about talking to press. DC offered us plenty of opportunities to do interviews like my one with Scott Snyder, but again their antithesis of Marvel’s press hate mantra allowed me to cover most of their announcements even before the con opened its doors.

Show Floor Javits CenterHere’s a basic map that shows how I hit the event. My feet became a cacophony of blisters as I traversed from creator shifts between artist alley and the main floor. Actually, the big company booths on the main floor were not the place to really get face-time with creators. They were managed tightly by PR wonks and hired hands to get books signed and keep the line moving.

I did however have a few good conversations with some brave indie souls willing to spit in the face of ROI and buy a footprint in here in the name of awareness. Here are a few of the folks that caught the ole’ Patey eye.

first law of mad science oliver metzFIRST LAW OF MAD SCIENCEDon in a lab coat and cackling like…well a mad scientist at passersby, I couldn’t help but give Oliver Metz and his books a moment simply on the “A for effort” principle. FLMS is the story of a world where people are given cybernetic eyes to enhance their field of vision. Made cheap, they become more common than lasik surgery with 2/3 of the world sporting enhanced vision. However, this eventually turns south as the eyes start to provide visions of little evil creatures. Four issues are out right now. Comp received – Full review coming soon.

telikos-protocolTELIKOS PROTOCOLThe imagery grabbed me on this booth. Really gorgeous stuff. The story is set 300 years in the future where the world is an ecological wasteland.  As a result we burrowed underground to form I, ROBOT (the book, not movie) like cities. Once underground and used to dark light we start sniffing around the sea bed where we discover alien technology that could deliver us to a new earth. Problem is the aliens lowjacked their shit and now they have come back to repo what’s theirs. Part disaster story, part alien ass kicking. I mentioned the really pretty art too right? Issues 1 & 2 are done and 3 is on the way. Hefty books as well clocking in at 44 pages. Pictured is writer Peter Cooper and illustrator Adam Burn.

Doctor Atlantis

DOCTOR ATLANTIS Written by Ian Ally-Seals and drawn by Carl Mefferd we set sail into high seas steam punk. The world is flat, the ocean is endless, Star Trek on the above Dave Jones’ Locker.

God Dyslexic Dog

GOD THE DYSLEXIC DOGI’m a dog nut, especially for retrievers. The pretty art drew me in (again), I can’t wait to dig into the story of God coming to earth as a dog who is adopted by a dyslexic dik…I mean kid.Comp received – review coming soon.  

 

Smoke break

valiant 8 bit cover pitfall

Matthew Wait (sic) – The dude that has been doing the 8 bit covers for Valiant. As a fangeezer I love this shit, especially the next ETERNAL WARRIOR one that for legal reasons we can only say is an homage to a game that rhymes with Schmitball.

 

Time to switch gears and head to Artist Alley. 

Ivan Dacosta IconsIvan DaCosta – ICONS is the name of the book Ivan put together that will coincide with a huge gallery exhibit in Brazil this November. The focus is letting today’s superstars like Rafael Albuquerque, Sean Murphy, Ben Templesmith and a 100 others unleash on their favorite characters and explain why they love them so. Produced both in Spanish and English this is one I can’t wait to dig into. The picture doesn’t do the sheer heft and density this book caries. Comp received – Full review coming soon

Justin-reich-baby-zombie

BABY’S FIRST BOOK OF ZOMBIESBabies are like zombies and turn their parents into zombies. I’ll admit, I went and spoke to creator Justin Reich simply because I love it when people actually tell it like it is when it comes to kids. I can’t really do a full review of it since it’s a kid’s book that basically correlates baby traits to zombie traits, but I can say it was damn cute. It was also a damn sight better than the crap I know my friends have to read their kids.

Luthor-Strode-Team

STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHOR STRODE TEAM – We love it and we’ve reviewed it a thousand times here on Ain’t It Cool. This is the book that got Jordan a chance at the big leagues. It’s kind of like KICK-ASS, but actually makes sense since the hero waits for powers before he puts himself in the line of danger. It’s also amazingly bloody and gory. Check out Justin Jordan and Felipe Sobreiro’s great work. The gang was also giddier than Japanese schoolgirls at the Hello kitty booths over being together for the first time.

hoax hunters

HOAX HUNTERS – Myth busters meets X-Files is eleven issues with a volume one ending at issue 13. Catch-up PDFs available for volumes one and two on the site. Pictured above creators Moreci and Seeley.


deadly class

DEADLY CLASSHigh school for assassins tale coming out in January from Image written by the great Rick Remender. Despite the obvious Wanted comparisons I’m willing to give anything Remender does at least one issue.

rocket-girl

ROCKET GIRL – Teen cop from the future who comes back to the 80s to whack down some time criminals. To add to kookiness it all takes place in an alternate 2013 where everything promised to us in Back to the Future actually came to fruition. Weird with copious 80s should appeal to all.  Or at least all over 35. Pictured are creators Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare.

chris-claremontChris Claremont – Chris was a jovial sort, sharing some 80s work called MARADA THE SHE-WOLF being reprinted by Titan. Also, Chris is making his way back to X-Men this November to celebrate the mighty mutants 50th anniversary. Comp received – review coming soon

 

shane-davis

Shane Davis – Famed EARTH 1 artist doing some sketches and hocking a new book with Max Brooks from Legendary pictures promoting SHADOW WALK. Mark Waid writing, Max doing concept, Shane on art, yeah I’m in.

charles-soule

Charles Soule – A lot going on for this guy. STRANGE ATTRACTORS from Archaia, two mathematicians that turn NYC into a machine. More than it already is I guess. Charles was also pushing LETTER 44 from Oni Press. Click the link to hear our Podcast review of a President who gets a succession letter that changes everything.

Two Tangaray and tonics break. Back to the main floor.

kelly sue deconnik

Kelly Sue Deconnick – New comic PRETTY DEADLY from Image is a mythic Western coming out in October. It’s being released in the CRIMINAL mold with five issue arcs.

patrick-riley

Patrick Riley – THE MISADVENTURES OF ELECTROLYTE AND THE JUSTICE PURVEYORS is a superhero who…cures hangovers. There’s also a telepath who can only finishes sentences, a shrink hero that is not more than a mite and a billionaire who uses his money to bribe criminals not to commit crimes. Six issues and a trade are now available.

 

 

 

josh-ortega-greg-goldsteinMy feet blistered and shoulder sore from overflowing man bag, I went back to my hotel Yotel for a shower, a foot soak, and power nap. The evening ended spending some time at the Toy Tokyo Underground launch party of THE OTHER DEAD from IDW. A good time, but alas I was exhausted. I drank three complimentary ales and quickly proceeded to crash for Day Two festivities. Pictured are writer/creator Joshua Ortega and IDW President /COO Greg Goldstein.

 

QUANTUM & WOODY #1 REVIEW – Bwahaha for a new generation

quantumwoody1QUANTUM & WOODY #1
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Tom Fowler
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

There’s a sect of fangeezers out there that have been on a quest for the better part of twenty years. Desperately we have traversed the comic book stands for what we affectionately once dubbed the Bwahaha. This seemingly nonsensical phrase refers to a time at DC Comics when the books were able to deliver an equal balance of humor along with emotionally weighty moments. Most of the Bwa came from JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, the team that was manipulated together in a scheme begging for them to fail. They didn’t fail, they triumphed, and characters like Booster Gold and Blue Beetle kept us laughing until Doomsday cleaned Superman’s clock in 1992, at the same time making us believe that comics could have heart. We all thought there would be a chance for the Bwa to return when JLI launched post-New 52. Sadly it more blech than Bwa, and as such was one of the first titles to be voted off the island. Well, I am now here to herald the return of Bwa; it simply now resides over in Valiant’s QUANTUM & WOODY.

QUANTUM AND WOODY is the ultimate buddy comedy, an Odd Couple in spandex. These two brothers couldn’t be more polar opposites, and I say this without even acknowledging the fact that one is black and one is white. Now, while I won’t acknowledge this point, the book has no qualms in pointing out the Oreo on the shelf. In between jibes at Woody’s complete ineptitude and Quantum’s overly anal retentiveness there is a sprinkling of racial recognition, but Asmus never crosses any lines of good taste. In fact, at best their adopted nature is a footnote, but it is poetically delivered by the father of the pair in a flashback after his murder.

That’s right: QUANTUM & WOODY band together after years of estrangement to try and solve who killed their father, a scientist hell-bent on unlocking the secrets of the universe. Their estrangement is delivered in an interspersed style of flashbacks that really helped the book keep moving so there isn’t an ounce of heavily belabored exposition. From schoolyard fights vehemently protecting the other’s honor, to their teenage finding of self and ultimate separation of ways, Asmus always remembers the true love/hate of honest brotherhood. In fact, the two get their powers (whatever those might be) in a toddler-level scuffle to don a HAZMAT suit when they lock themselves inside their father’s particle thingamabobby. Being an only child, I’ve never understood this desire to man-wrestle for things, but I have enough cousins that ‘ve seen bloody noses delivered over who gets to hold the fucking Nintendo controller. Madness, but hilarious madness.

Despite my fervent lifelong love affair with all things Valiant, I missed QUANTUM & WOODY during valiant 1.0 in the 90s. I bailed on most titles after Shooter was shown the door, and by ‘96 all of my free money was being used to procure brick weed to seduce a bunch of Ani DeFranco fans (shhh–I still don’t believe they don’t like guys). Some of my contemporaries say this first issue lacked the bite of that series. Never having read it, I would be a charlatan to disagree. I will say after hearing some of the blatant racial jokes, though: times have changed, guys, and some of those jokes simply feel hackneyed in the context of society today. There are a shit ton more multicultural households today, and thankfully most of us have moved passed the idea that color versus environment defines the individual.

For me, Asmus and crew simply need to poke fun at the superhero genre like they did cover to cover on this book. Speaking of the covers, they are pretty spot-on about what’s inside the book. From the goat proclaiming “meh” to the cover where they slap bracelets and sarcastically battle cry the sound effect klang, this series is dryer than a new Maytag.

My only question, quandary and general cornfusion stems from how this integrates into the rest of the Valiant U. Valiant of yore and the current run set the bar for editorial excellence and communication across titles. Even before mini-events like the current HARBINGER WARS, Valiant would sprinkle small little morsels of other title happenings. QUANTUM & WOODY for now is completely off the reservation. From newscasters talking about superheroes to nary a word about a little stand-off that has shut down Las Vegas, these guys are islands in their own stream. That’s OK, I guess. I still naively believe books should serve a larger universal whole, but I don’t fault those that tell me my thinking is antiquated and just enjoy the damn story.

Make no mistake: I did enjoy QUANTUM & WOODY, thoroughly. Fowler draws action as adeptly as douchebaggery. Asmus is as funny as he is sincere. Plausible implausibility makes for some of the best comics, and in that regard QUANTUM & WOODY is bar none.

HARBINGER 13 REVIEW – The Best Laid Plans

harbinger 13 16 bit coverHARBINGER 13
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Khari Evans
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka –  Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

Here’s where I become a bit of a Hypocrite Douche for a second. I’ve railed for years against covers not having a Goddamn thing to do with the interior material. However, I’m giving Valiant a pass because these 16-bit video game homages stroke my nostalgia nads like no other. No, the material doesn’t take place in the late 80s or early 90s and no on plays video games. If I have to craft a loose defense, HARBINGER does fight Toyo Harada so in that sense the cover delivers on the material inside, but again I know that I’m reaching. I guess what I have a problem with is traditional covers that are all pose and no posse, wherein a splash page of ridiculous poses transplants original thought welcoming a reader. I know I’m old, but I found all of Valiant’s 16-bit month delightful and this was simply the icing on the HARBINGER WARS cake of goodness.

So what happened inside the book? Basically a plan gone very very wrong. This is the elongated seconds of HARBINGER WARS issue 3 where Pete Stancheck and the rest of his renegades completely garbazzled stopping BLOODSHOT and his fellow Project Rising Spirit refugees from reaching the casino compound in now deserted Las Vegas.

The entire mini event that’s run through BLOODSHOT, HARBINGER and HARBINGER WARS has rolled this way and quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any differently. This is cross-over in the truest form and clearly indicative of tight reins being pulled from an editorial standpoint. Not once has there been a gaffe, a misstep or anyone dialing it in as we see all too often when the Big 2 decide to blow our doors off. What’s also been great about this series as a whole is how much richness and much needed back-story this has added to the entire universe. We see what caused the bad blood behind Harada and PRS in some very groovy flashbacks to 1969. We’ve seen early forays into super human development with the power downloading H.A.R.D. corps and finally we’ve learned more about the children of this universe and their inescapable fate as pawns to the world’s power brokers.

This issue specifically was all hilarity as a plan that seemed unstoppable falls flat on its face from the get-go. Using a model (not built to scale of course), Pete masterfully crafts a way to actually sue everyone’s powers to stop BLOODSHOT and crew. Zephyr the early warning, Torque the tank to stop the armored Humvees from barreling  forward, Flamingo to toast the insdies, hell even Kris gets to use her non-powered tactical acumen to guide this eventual folly from inside their penthouse sanctuary.

What’s been the best part in all of this has been our position as readers. We know that both BLOODSHOT and the HARBINGER gang are fighting in the same side, the only problem is that no one has been able to talk to one another yet to realize it. I’ve also been enchanted with the calling out of Pete’s crew ridiculous idea to wear the costume of their enemy. That bad choice comes to full fruition this issue.

As we reach the story’s climax, I’m most intrigued to see the aftermath. Will we see a joining of the PRS kids with Pete’s crew? Will BLOODSHOT join them, give the kids up completely and continue the search for his lost identity. What about PRS and Harada, will we see the olive branch extended and a conglomerate formed or this merely the initial whispers of a much bigger war ahead.

I don’t have the answers and I don’t want them. The Valiant universe is more than a read, it’s the unfolding of a new epic mythology that knows the best part of comics comes from a symbiotic relationship of story instead of a forced parasitic appearance.

SHADOWMAN 5 REVIEW – Jump on NOW!

shadowman 5 coverSHADOWMAN 5
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Publisher: Valiant
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I’m pretty much a gushing fantween when it comes to Valiant. I’ve expressed borderline adulation for the universe that once was, and 2.0 titles like ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, X-O and HARBINGER. However, SHADOWMAN has remained off my radar for a few reasons.

One, this wasn’t one of my faves from yore. SHADOWMAN was part of a second wave of characters that never integrated as well as the originals. By the time he hit the scene the industry was already starting to choke on its own hubris, making for huge scale backs in cross pollination – a Valiant staple. Note I said cross-pollination here and not crossover. Big difference. Pollination enhances instead of necessitating the read of every title and it’s a practice that is starting to arise in Valiant 2.0 between HARBINGER and BLOODSHOT. If you haven’t read Valiant, trust me here please. Pollination is different than a crossover and Valiant is simply one of the bests.

There I go ajulating again…sorry.

My other bugaboo about SHADOWMAN back in the day was an unrealized potential for magic. Basically SHADOWMAN is the fighter of evil mystical forces (get the name now?), and the concept of those forces were simply never universally integrated in old Valiant. You could read the book and nothing mattered. Made for a tough read when everything else melded together so successfully.

Finally, I didn’t quite get the book back then. SHADOWMAN was a “middle-aged” jazz musician by trade and a defender of New Orleans by night; two themes that have little resonance to a 16 year old kid from Jersey circa 1992.

But that was then, so what’s my excuse for ignoring the past four issues of the new SHADOWMAN? Jack Boniface is still the title character, but at least he’s now sporting a younger visage. Voodoo and dark magic are still the order of the day, and naturally the book is set in the epicenter for such things, The Big Easy. Basically my reasons for non-review are one part confusion and one part I was simply distracted by the other doings in Valiant.

I love Jordan as a writer; his creator owned book, LUTHER STRODE, is exceptional. SHADOWMAN though has suffered from too frantic of a pace trying to squeeze in exposition and hasn’t had enough time to let the antagonists and protagonists breath into fully realized characters – until now.

Even demons need a personality as do sidekicks. Jack’s counterparts, who like him work at the museum for the Dark Arts, have played their roles of Hermione and Dumbedore well, but haven’t lived much beyond that. Likewise the demons he’s faced were all self-proclaimed harbingers of the true big baddy who finally reveals himself this issue – Master Darque. It’s all seemed very much like a waiting game – until now.

In case you haven’t caught on to my subtle build-up yet, BUY SHADOWMAN NOW! Issue 5 reveals all and does so in the most action packed and downright fucking weirdest way yet. Want to know the history of the SHADOWMAN and his fight against evil? It’s here. Want to see Jack’s realization that being a hero comes with foregoing the life he once knew – you get here inside a blood soaked diner. Want to meet the creepiest place and mother fucker in comics? Guess where you’ll find it.

In a place beyond our world and the true world of the damned, Master Darque has been unleashed. He’s so evil that even the denizens of the dark limbo zone crumble to dust before him. His goal is to resurrect a voodoo King who’s operating from limbo at about 2% power. How we find all of this out is another treat. I’m a sucker for a monkey in a hat and one that smokes and talks-wise is even more endearing – this is Master Darque’s companion and I want as much monkey as I want Darque.

Number 5 marks Jordan and SHADOWMAN both hitting their respective strides. If Valiant finds a way to weave in these N’orleans happenings into the larger universe they have another fine piece of fabric for their rich tapestry of a universe. Get Darque – Get SHADOWMAN 5.

P.S. Try to score the all black “Smell the Glove” homage cover. You can then show it to non-comic fans and tell them to relax their eyes like the “magic” images from the 90s. In ten minutes they will either think all comic collectors are crazy, learning disabled or the person will have an aneurysm. Either way it’s extra entertainment value.

HARBINGER 5 Review – Stark Realism from the Spandex Set

Harbinger 5 CoverHARBINGER 5
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Khari Evans
Publisher: Valiant
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I know some are going to bemoan my fossilization, but sorry, it’s virtually impossible for me to traverse these first New Valiant reviews without waxing a bit nostalgic. A good brand will induce a flood of emotions and memories. 20 years ago, Valiant was a distinct, unique, and great voice in comics. They were a salvation from the hyper-stylized popcorn of the early 90s. As we enter an early 90’s renaissance with folks like Rob Liefeld finding work again, Image characters collapsed into DC canon, and the ACTUAL resurrection of early 90s Image titles, Valiant is once again poised to provide an oasis of complex storytelling saving us from the rocky waters of these shallow pouch laden ghosts of yore.

HARBINGER is Valiant’s answer to the end result of humanity’s dalliances futzing with the fabric of the universe when we entered the nuclear age.  Think the X-MEN 50 years ago without the bullshit sanitization of a comic’s code to water down the shock, horror and awe the world would have at someone who can control minds, fly, convert mass to energy…you get my drift. HARBINGER, while being about the next generation of humans who can do fantastic things also plays on the much deeper level of change as each powered youth deals with growing up and discovering their place in the world. The travesty in coming of age, combined with the wonderment of humanity’s next phase of existence is the perfect word-blurb nutshell for HARBINGER.

Valiant has always captured the zeitgeist of the time period. When I fell in love with Valiant twenty years ago, there was still a sense of Morning in America, an optimism left over from the Ragan years – or at the very least it was Brunch in America. Now, we are Mourning in America and Valiant expertly shifted the tonality of all their titles to stay relevant while still adhering to every staple that made their books a success so many years ago.

Gone are kids who are simply rebellious. Kids who took to the road, kids discontent with their future as kids have always been. However, they weren’t despondent over tomorrow like today’s emo fueled youth. Pete Stancheck, the protagonist of HARBINGER then and now, is the perfect case point for this change in youth culture. 20 years ago, Pete was weird, but mostly harmless. Like most odd ducks he was simply ostracized back in the 90s version, and mostly harmless (aside from the mind control thing). Keeping in line with our current culture, Dysart transformed Pete into today’s weird kid, complete with a menagerie of misdiagnosed mental disorders and a cornucopia of psychotropic substances to substitute parenting and a warm glass of “quit your bitching” from Dad. Right from issue one of HARBINGER 2.0 Pete was a much darker character, even going so far as to use his powers to mind control the girl he has a crush on. The old Pete never would have considered such a literal and figurative mind fuck. But again we didn’t have a society 20 years ago where our favorite fetish could be broadcast on 14 devices in our homes in seconds. Dysart understands the instant gratification generation and extends this impudent impatience to Pete and all of the HARBINGERS we’ve met thus far.

Another drastic change in this modernization is the mantra of the book itself. Back in the day, the book was way more about all the HARBINGER kids as they escaped being part of the evil Toyo Harada’s plans to rule the world. Harada, the baby-boomer first HARBINGER, is explored much deeper in this new version.

Part of this is a function of legality. In Valiant 1.0, Harada was introduced as a mother-fucker supreme in SOLAR. Without this property in the stable, HARBINGER now becomes just as much Harada’s story as it is Stancheck’s and the rest of the kids. Dysart also does an excellent job adding to Harada’s creep factor with the introduction of The Bleeding Monk. As the name implies, he’s a monk that…bleeds everywhere. Outside of the creepy visuals this induces, the Monk is also symbolic of Harada’s quest to control…well…everything. The BM can see the future and Harada keeps this personal oracle captive to glean cryptic images of what might be.

One thing I NEED to see from Valiant that I haven’t yet is a cross-pollination of characters in titles. It was a true benchmark of the original Valiant. Jim Shooter’s editorial fastidiousness kept all events in order and never allowed earth shattering events to remain self-contained in one title. Comics are about a complete universe, for me anyway. I don’t want to see New York destroyed in the X-men and have Peter Parker swinging care free the same month in Spiderman, it feels lazy to me (and this has actually happened more than once). The new Valiant stands poised to build just as cohesive a universe, if not better, since they are currently dealing with less titles and time periods than the original universe.

HARBINGER doesn’t let one spandex trope escape its grasp before slathering it with a dark pall reflective of our real-world fears and tribulations.