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Avengers Undercover #1 Review

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This is a comic book that I went into blindly.  The title and its dark cover (Francesco Mattina) captured my attention.  At the time, I had no idea that Avengers Undercover was a sequel to Avengers Arena.

I wasn’t at all interested in Avengers Arena because it reminded me of Hunger Games.  I watched Hunger Games at the movie theater and hated it.  Children were forced to kill each other.  Avengers Arena was no different.  Arcade, a supervillain, kidnapped 16 superhuman teenagers and placed them in a deathmatch.  That sicko was amused by Murderworld, the name for this reality-type show, that was also aired on television.

Avengers Undercover follows the seven survivors of Murderworld.  However Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) appears to have a tight hold on Cullen Bloodstone, one of the survivors.  He is enraged and obsessed with seeking vengeance on Arcade.  Cullen tracks Arcade to Bagalia, a city that I would not want to live in, and home to Baron Zemo, leader of the Masters of Evil.  The remaining six discover Cullen’s plan and has to decide whether they should brave the dangers of Bagalia and bring Cullen home.

Dennis Hopeless is the writer of this All-New Marvel NOW! title.  Script and pacing are both flawless.  Great character interactions.  The survivors are young badasses, but it’s their distinct personalities and attitudes that hooked me.  Chase is already annoying the heck out of me, but he’s funny.  Cullen is a hardcore badass.  And Anachronism, well, let’s just say I’m still trying to figure him out.

Kev Walker is the artist, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu shows off his artistic skills with the colors.  I have nothing but praise for this great team of visual storytellers.

Avengers Undercover #5 was released last week, and it was the first comic book that I read that day.  The funny thing is, it’s on my husband’s pull list, not mine.  I went through a pile of his comics a couple of months ago.  That’s when the title and cover caught my attention (yes, a cover is a selling point).

I am caught up with this title, and I plan to continue reading this All-New Marvel NOW! series until I get bored.  By the way Hopeless is tearing this script up, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I will read Avengers Undercover anytime rather than Young Avengers.

VERDICT (drum roll please)
I strongly recommend this title, and I am giving it 5/5 stars.

Seven Years in Dog-Land Review

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Alice Carroll is a 10 year-old girl who lives with her dad, Lewis Carroll.  Their relationship is cold and distant, and Alice doesn’t appear to have any recollection of her deceased mother.  When Alice’s pet Labrador Retriever, Charlie, runs away from home, Alice takes it extremely hard.

Alice eventually leaves home to search for Charlie.  During her search, she stumbles upon a magical world ruled by giant dogs.  In Cania, the canines talk and sapiens are their pets.  The sapiens resemble humans, but they’re filthy and act like savages.  The enslaved sapiens are used as household pets, circus acts, and whatever else their owners force on them.  The canines even breed sapiens.

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Alice is considered a special type of sapient because of her cleanliness, intelligence, and most of all, her ability to talk.  She is personable, and has caught the attention of Dulac, the sapiens pet trader.  Dulac decides to keep Alice for himself, and he’s as dirty as dirty can get.

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Not all of the canines are cruel.  There is an activist group that wants all sapiens to be free.

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But will Alice ever find Charlie?  Better yet, will she ever find her way back home?

Seven Years in Dog-Land is an indie comic created by Johny Tay.  Phenomenal script with amazing character interactions.  This enlightening fantasy pretty much resembles our world.  Dogs are kept as pets by humans.  We breed them, dress them up in clothing, and make them perform tricks.  As for selling the sick sapiens to the butcher.  Well, um, I often read about meat recalls.  Sick cows, pigs, green slime, etc.  Anyway, you know what I’m talking about.

The art is in black-and-white, and although I would like to see it in color, it doesn’t take from the story at all.  I especially like how Tay drew Alice to stand apart from the sapiens.  You can definitely tell she’s not one of those savages.

You can read the first half of Seven Years in Dog-Land for FREE online.  Check out Tay’s website for additional information such as a rundown of characters, and ordering information.

VERDICT (drum roll please)

I recommend this title for dog lovers, readers of fantasy, or for those that are looking for a good indie comic to read.  I give this title 4.5/5 stars.

 

Comic Book Donations Should Not Include Fake Charities

I recall following Communities for Kids, a Twitter account that sought comic book donations for kids.  I was new to Twitter, so I don’t remember much about it.  But I strongly remember a Twitter account, Comics4Kids, surface with the same solicitations.  Even back then, I thought it was odd.  Eventually Communities for Kids faded away, but Comics4Kids remained.

Comics for Kids is/was/is/was/is/was (it goes from being open to closed over the past few days), a Twitter account that solicits comic books, original art, and monetary donations.  The books are supposed to be given to children to help promote literacy.  Art is supposed to be a prize for donors.  Monetary donations are supposed to be used for shipping the comics to kids.

Comics for Kids, or Comics4_Kids (this Twitter handle will not get hyperlinked anywhere on my blog), claims to be a non-profit organization based out of Tishomingo, MS.  Michael Whitehead is the CEO, and appears to be the only employee.  A few days ago, I began to read several tweets questioning the non-profit organization’s true motive.  I saw a tweet with a picture of a young boy holding a certificate.  I zoomed in on the picture to read the child’s name.  His last name is Whitehead.  I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if he’s related to Michael Whitehead.”  After reading a few more tweets, I learned the Twitter war apparently started from that picture.

The purported charity was asked if the child in the picture was related to the CEO.  It didn’t take long for Michael Whitehead to become enraged and start going off and blocking those who questioned his ethics.  He talked big-time smack, and even tweeted “You honestly make me sick,” to one individual, and “Fuck you (person’s name)” to another.  And guess what?  All of this was tweeted under the charity’s brand.

Here’s Bleeding Cool’s article about the chaotic Twitter war that expanded over a few days.

I became suspicious of this charity months ago.  The account always asks for comics (including CGC), rare comics, original art and money.  I have never seen pictures showing where the donations have gone.  Several times a month a picture is posted showing two stacks of USPS packages ready to ship, along with a tweet asking for money to ship them.  First of all, we don’t know what’s in those envelopes.  Second, it’s the same damn picture every time.  You don’t see any pictures of kids with their books, or the comic drives the organization claims to host.  Contest winners for original art are never announced.  The same two pictures of the same two original drawings are tweeted all the time.  So yeah, I was on to that Comics4Kids Twitter scam a while back.

By the way, there is no active website, and they removed their Facebook page.

The Twitter feud was so intense that Mark Waid, a well-known, respected, and influential comic creator, stepped in.  Waid is hotheaded, but he tells it like it is.  He was out with it and called Michael Whitehead out on key issues.

I am not known in the comic community, but I’m vocal whenever I feel the need.  I tweeted a couple of comments, basically telling Comics for Kids to show us they want to help kids.  I was blocked from their Twitter account a few hours later.

There is always someone looking for comics to read.  And there are several ways to get comic books in the hands of those who want them, including children.

  • Garage/yard sale
  • Mom2Mom sale.  These sales are gaining in popularity.  My family participated in two of these sales over the past year.  Kids went wild over the comic books.  We sold them for 25 cents each.  I gave a lot of them away, simply because we didn’t want to take anything back home.
  • Your local library.  Call and see if they accept donations.
  • Shelters
  • Physician offices
  • Hospitals.  Call the volunteer office, or Nurse Manager on a specific unit, and ask if they will accept comic books to be placed in the waiting rooms.  Volunteers may even take them into the patient rooms.  I work in an ER and our pediatric ER receives donated books all the time, including a few comics.  They’ll be getting more soon, because I’m in the process of going through my own kids comics.

You don’t need to send money to these so-called charities to help ship comics either.  Why do such a thing when there are kids in your own neighborhood that would love to have a comic book?  We’re surrounded by children, so let’s help them.  Sponsor a child by taking him or her to a comic shop, or giving them your child’s unwanted books.

I have a cousin with a daughter in middle school.  Her daughter often asks to stop by the comic shop on their way home, because it’s down the street from the school.  So of course I told my cousin that I will take her daughter to the store and let her get whatever book(s) she wants.

There are plenty of ways to help people, children and adults, obtain comic books.  Supporting a fake charity should not be one of them.

Promoting literacy goes beyond just handing a book to a child.  Can the child read?  Is it age appropriate?  Is there any parent involvement?  You just can’t hand a book to a child and say you’re helping to promote literacy.  That’s why it’s a good idea to start helping kids to read comics at home.  By home, I mean with relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers.  They all have children that want comic books.  Start with the locals.

I have a co-worker whose 5 year-old son loves anything and everything Spider-Man.  My son reads and collects Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man.  A couple of times while at the comic shop, I bought an extra copy for her son.

A few months ago, a man took his young son into the comic shop to buy his first comic book.  The man had enough money for maybe one or two books.  I grabbed a $5 bill from my purse because I wanted to make sure that little boy did not leave the store without his first comic book(s).

If you insist on donating to charity (some like to do it for bragging rights), please play it safe and research the organization first.

Original Sin #1 Review

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Uatu the watcher, one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, has been murdered.  First of all, how is that even possible?  Second, who was bold enough to kill the Watcher, and what gun was large and powerful enough to blast a hole in his ginormous head?  The killer(s) even stole his eyes.

I would say the Watcher was caught off guard, but that would be silly of me.  Uatu was the Watcher, he saw EVERYTHING in the universe.

Nick Fury is the leader of a stellar cast of heroes and vigilants, including some of my favorites such as Black Widow, Thor, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Punisher, Moon Knight, and Gamora, as they work endlessly to solve the greatest murder mystery in the history of comics.  Not just comic books by Marvel, but ALL COMICS.

Jason Aaron is the writer of this chilling eight-part mini-series, published by Marvel Comics.  Sharp dialogue with great character interactions.  Aaron created a diverse team of heroes and vigilantes, and I can’t wait to see them work as a team.  With snarks such as Punisher and Wolverine, I’m sure I’ll be laughing at some point.  Well I already did, the scenes with Punisher and Dr. Strange.  But for now, I need to focus on Aaron’s frightening script, because this is one murder mystery that is definitely getting my full attention.

The superb artwork was provided by Mike Deodato (artist) and Frank Martin (colors).  Their frightening panels match Aaron’s script perfectly.  I especially like that magnificent spread of the Watcher sprawled out on the floor with blood gushing from his eyes, and the gunshot wound to his head (I work in an ER so I’ve seen it all, nothing is gross to me).

I’m definitely going to read the entire the Original Sin mini-series.  However, I’m not going to read all of the tie-ins, just the titles I currently read.

VERDICT (drum roll please)
Original Sin is a great murder mystery that I strongly recommend.  Along with the art, the writing is sharp and gives that frightening feel that’s needed to appreciate this suspensful comic to the fullest.

I also recommend that you read Original Sin #0, it’s an introduction to Uatu the Watcher. 

Original Sin #1 gets 5/5 stars.

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Helsing #1 Review

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Liesel Van Helsing escaped the Shadowlands, after being trapped for more than a century, and is adapting to life in the present.  Not only is Liesel an inventor and a skilled hunter, she is also the daughter of the famous vampire slayer, Abraham Van Helsing.  And Liesel Van Helsing has already proven to be a badass in this debut issue.  Helsing is a 4-part horror comic mini-series, published by Zenescope.

Liesel invents and uses her own weapons to extinguish vampires.  Her latest weapon is a gun that shoots stakes, laced with a chemical that explodes upon contact with the vampire.  The explosion emits a sunlight effect, causing an instant kill.

When her father’s diary mysteriously appears, Liesel Van Helsing travels to Italy to search for answers, starting with who sent it and why.

Pat Shand is the writer of this horror comic mini-series.  Well-written script, especially Liesel’s stern voice.  I don’t like modern-day vampire stories, I prefer the classics, vampires that only come out to play at night, and are killed by a wooden stake driven through the heart.  Shand appears to have kept the classic vampire traits and that is what hooked me to this comic.

The awesome visuals are provided by Tony Brescini (art), Andress Esparza (art), Fran Gamboa (colors), and J.C. Ruiz (colors).  I especially like the cold and eerie feeling I got while looking at Walt Melville.  It’s like a warning for me to read the rest of the series in the daylight.  But I’m not.  I’m a horror, especially classic vampire fan, so I’m not scared to read the book at night.

VERDICT (drum roll please)
If you’re a fan of classic vampire stories, or horror in general, then I strongly recommend this 4-part mini-series.  Helsing is a classic vampire story with a modern-day twist.  And I don’t mean that vampire walking around in broad daylight and taking forever to turn into a vampire twist (ugh).  I know that sentence was long-winded sentence, I just always wanted to write one.   The debut issue of Helsing gets 5/5 stars.

Elektra #1 Review

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To escape the memories of certain individuals in New York City, Elektra Natchios, or just simply Elektra, the beautiful but world’s most deadly ninja assassin, pays the matchmaker a visit and requests a contract.  The matchmaker gives her a job that no one else can come close to cashing in on, the capture of Cape Crow, an assassin that may prove to be Elektra’s biggest rival.  Not only does Elektra has to get to Cape Crow before other assassins, she also has to turn him in alive.

If you’re already familiar with this female assassin, then you know that she is no joke, and I’m more than sure that this All-New Marvel NOW! title won’t be one either.  I’ve read Elektra:  Assassin and a few issues of Marvel NOW! Thunderbolts, so I have high expectations for this new comic series.

W. Haden Blackman did a great job at setting up the story, and introducing Elektra to readers who may be unfamiliar with her.  Well-written script, especially Elektra’s sharp tone.

Unfortunately, I am not fond of the art.  I’m not saying that Michael Del Mundo (art, colors) and Marco D’Alfonso (colors) didn’t do a good job, because they did.  It’s just not for me.  It looks like a painting, and that’s not the style I was looking for in this type of comic.

Although I don’t like the art in this story, I still plan to finish the first arc.  I need to know what’s going to happen on Monster Island, and just who the heck Bloody Lips is.

Verdict (drum roll please)  
Elektra, the new comic series by Marvel, has a strong opening.  Just because I don’t like the style of art for this title doesn’t mean I’m not going to recommend it.  I recommend this title for the mature readers.  I give this issue 4/5 stars.