Tag Archives: comics

Title Discrimination in Comics

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When it comes to censorship in comic books, I often question the criteria that comic retailers use when deciding what sits on the shelf, as opposed to what is kept behind the counter.  There is a countless number of comics for mature readers on the store shelves, so what exactly is the deciding factor for age-restricted material?

I asked a comic shop owner why are there certain books kept behind the counter, when a certain other book is allowed to sit on the shelf with the rest of the uncensored comic books.  The response to the latter was pretty vague.

That was not the first time that I have asked comic shop owners or employees why

Sex, published by Image Comics
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and

Sex Criminals, also published by Image Comics
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are marked as age-restricted material and kept behind the counter, but

Crossed, published by Avatar Press
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freely sits on the shelf.

It didn’t take but a minute for me to realize why Sex and Sex Criminals are being discriminated against.  It’s because of that three-letter word in their titles.

SEX.

That’s right, comic book titles are being censored.  I haven’t been told this by anyone, but it’s pretty obvious.  I don’t know about all comic shops, so I can only rant about the few I have visited since I started reading Sex Criminals.  These books are being treated as if they are pornography, which they are not.  Although I only read the first two issues of Sex, I am not embarrassed to say that Sex Criminals is on my pulls.

If Crossed can sit on the shelf, then why can’t the two comic books with sex in the title?  That is so unfair.

I don’t know what’s currently going on in Sex, but I know that Sex Criminals is nothing to be all hush-hush about.  It is not porn or a dirty joke book.  It’s a comedy about two people who can stop time while having an orgasm.  They decided to rob a bank to save a library.  They are eventually captured by the sex police.   And there aren’t that many panels showing nude body parts.

On the other hand, Crossed is a bizarre comic about a virus that caused a zombie-like apocalypse.  This is a story of sadism, torture, rape and incest.  When humans are infected, they immediately break-out in a red rash, in the shape of a cross, on their faces.  They develop a crazed grin, and the violence and bloodshed begins.

They also turn into horny lunatics, and will have sex (rape most of the time) with anyone and anything, including children and animals.

Although the graphics speak for itself, the book has no parental advisory warning on the covers.  This is a book that sits on the shelf with other uncensored comic books.  Severed limbs are usually on the cover.

Check out the cover for Crossed Annual 2014.
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A young girl holding a severed hand.

This book sits on a shelf, at a child’s EYE LEVEL.

Now that my ranting blog post is over, I feel so much better.  In fact, I’ve decided to follow my dream and write a comic book.

The comic is about a young female that seeks vengeance on those that have wronged her.  There will be ongoing torture, bloodbath and plenty of sex.  I don’t know if the covers will have a parental advisory warning just yet, but they will definitely be sexually explicit.

To make sure that my comic book make it on the shelf with other uncensored comics, the word sex  won’t be in the title.  It will be named after the leading female character, which will be something like Cupcake, Sunshine or Bubbles.

When I wrote my review of Crossed last year, I received a couple of nasty comments that I moderated and unapproved.  I’m sure I’ll probably get some for this blog post as well.

 

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Ms. Marvel 2 Review

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We were introduced to Kamala Khan, a beautiful 16 year-old teenage girl, in the debut issue of Ms. Marvel.  Kamala is a Muslim who loves comic books.  She is also mouthy, assertive, and appears to stop at nothing to get what she wants.  She even snuck out of the house to attend a party.  In other words, Kamala Khan is a typical teenager in mainstream America.

But we don’t know how much longer all that will last, as Kamala was mysteriously transformed into Ms. Marvel.  So far she knows that she is able to shape-shift, grow, and shrink in size.

In the current issue of Ms. Marvel, Kamala tries to figure out what has happened to her, while at the same time trying to learn what her superpowers are, and how to use them.  But the most important question is, is it meant to be?  Was she purposely chosen to be the new Ms. Marvel?

G. Willow Wilson is the writer of this title, published by Marvel Comics.  Realistic dialogue,  and phenomenal character interactions.  I especially like the distinctive voices of the characters, Kamala’s family most notably.

Here are a couple of pages from the current issue, showcasing sharp dialogue among Kamala’s family.

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The creative art time includes Adrian Alphona (artist) and Ian Herring (colors).  Superb art, especially the transformation into Ms. Marvel.  I especially like the distinctive coloring on both Kamala and Ms. Marvel.  Brown skin vs. white, dark hair vs. blonde.  I also liked the panels where Kamala didn’t realize she shape-shifted back to herself, as she snuck back into her home and faced her brother.   Alphona and Herring makes a great visual storytelling team.

To let their work speak for itself, here are a few pages from the current issue of Ms. Marvel.

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Ms. Marvel is more than a superhero comic book.  It also focuses on family values.  Kamala is torn between abiding by the principles upon which she was raised, and that of mainstream society.  The comic is centered around a Muslim family, but there are themes in the book that applies to every family, no matter what culture or religion you belong to.

Last Friday at the shopping mall, I met a lady that was standing outside the library handing out literature.  She greeted me with a smile and asked if I was interested in some reading.  She pointed inside the library, and I saw a small group of women sitting at a table with pamphlets and books.  The lady said they were trying to get out and meet people, and talk to them, because a lot of people don’t know who they are, and what they are about.  They were Muslims.

I said, “You may find it funny, because a lot of people do when they find out, but I read comic books.”  She laughed, leaned forward and said, “I have a secret too!”  She told me what she reads and we burst with loud laughter.  As soon as I mentioned Ms. Marvel, she said they all knew about the book, but didn’t know that it was already out.

I told her that I had been curious since I started reading Ms. Marvel, and wanted to learn more about Muslims in hopes of me getting a better understanding of the story.  I then started telling her about the comic.  She was very excited and asked where she could find a comic book shop.  I told her the locations of the two that are in the area, but I could tell she wasn’t familiar with the streets.  She asked if she could buy it online and read it, because she really wanted to read the book.

I also mentioned a physician that I work with, who’s from Pakistan.  I told her we occasionally discuss world issues.  He will mention what the Quran says, then ask me what the Bible says.  She asked his name and immediately knew who I was speaking about!

She invited me invited me inside the library to meet the other ladies.  She told them that I read the comic, and mentioned my co-worker.  They were all very friendly and said the Muslim community knew about the comic, and they wanted to read it.  I told them I wouldn’t be able to make it to their informational meeting later on, so they let me grab whatever handouts I wanted from the table, including a copy of the English translated Quran.

When I picked my son up from school a few minutes later, we went to the nearest comic shop to look for Ms. Marvel.  We found a copy of the first issue, second print.  I purchased the book, and took it to the group at the mall.  The lady I met and spoke with first wasn’t there.  It was a different group.  But they were already aware of me, and said they would make sure that she read the book first.

By the way, the comic was placed into a Free Comic Book Day bag.  Hopefully that bag will attract new comic book readers!

I have another physician co-worker that is from Yemen.  He purchased a home last summer in a high-demand area.  He was outside building a retaining wall, when he sensed that he was being watched.  Sure enough, he turned and saw his next-door-neighbors staring at him from their fence.

He immediately walked over to the fence, smiled, stuck out his hand for a handshake, and introduced himself.  He killed the heck out of them with kindness.  That quickly ended all the staring and whispering.

When you ask people what they wish for, a lot of them always say world peace.  It’s not difficult to achieve world peace.  We have to be at peace with ourselves first, then be at peace with our neighbors.

I am definitely going to continue reading this awesome new title.  If you are looking for new comics to read, I strongly suggest Ms. Marvel.

Verdict (drum roll please)

There is no doubt that this issue gets 5/5 stars.

Indie Comic Review: The Dead

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The Dead, an indie horror comic, is definitely a book that can’t be judged by its title.  This comic is not about zombies, but what happens in the afterlife.

After his death, Sam Coleman enters the house, a mysterious and dangerous entity.  The house consists of an endless amount of doors, all leading to rooms filled with bizarre adventures.  The rooms are created by its residents, but Sam couldn’t create his room because he was chased away by a wave of wailing souls.

Here’s a look at the first two pages of the The Dead, the beginning of Sam’s never-ending adventures.

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The rooms can be as frightening as a monster hiding under a bed, or as fun as a child’s birthday party.

The Dead is a supernatural, horror comic filled with bizarre twists and creepiness.  It’s weird, mysterious, frightening, and fun.

One of my favorite characters is Alex, a good guy that never wears a shirt (and that is perfectly alright with me).  There are words displayed all over his body, and it didn’t take long for me to notice that the words on his body constantly change.

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Another one of my favorite characters is Velouria, a hatchet-carrying house wanderer.  And she’s a badass.

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One of the most dangerous beings to stay away from is the wretched.  The wretched looks like a decomposed human, and it nestles inside of a room.  The room eventually turns into nasty, rotten who-knows-what, and the wretched will attack you before you realize it.

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Another danger in the house is the frail.  The frail floats around, and looks like an angel.  Appearing calm and innocent, the frail turns the complete opposite once you get close enough to it.

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The house is so mysterious, that no one really knows much about it, except that it holds hidden dangers, secrets, and that there’s no way out.

James Maddox is the writer of this adventure-filled, adrenalin rushing, indie comic.  Dialogue is intense and complex, and it’s not hard to follow once you get a grasp of what’s going on in the story.  Superb character interactions.  Original characters are a huge selling point, and Velouria and Alex are two perfect examples of originality.

The outstanding visuals are provided by Jen Hickman.  I shouldn’t have to type much about her awesome work, because the pages I included above should all speak for themselves.  Text is not really needed to know what’s going on in the story.  Hickman did a wonderful job on this title.

I really enjoyed this comic, and I look forward to reading more from Maddox and Hickman in the future.  You can purchase the dead on Comixology.  You can also visit the comic’s website at www.thedeadcomic.net.

Verdict (drum roll please)

Horror, supernatural, bizarre, twisted, strange, deceit, and magnificent.  This title gets 5/5 stars.

Night of the Living Deadpool #4 Review

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Talking about a mini-series is hard for me to do, because I can easily get carried away and spoil the story without realizing it.  So this blog post is going to be short and simple.  This is the final issue of Night of the Living Deadpool, and the ending is somewhere along the lines of what I was expecting.  Hint:  It’s Deadpool, so you know it’s something twisted, but comical.

Previously, Deadpool was zombified for a brief moment or two.  However that brief moment was enough time to wipe out the small, virus-free town he discovered earlier in the series.

Before turning into a zombie, Deadpool discovered that Clarence, a former A.I.M. agent, was living in seclusion in that same town.  The mad scientist revealed to Deadpool that A.I.M.’s experiments could have been the cause of the zombie virus outbreak.

In the final issue of this dark and fun story, Deadpool, using Clarence’s head as a guide (remember the zombies talk until their brains rot away), finds his way to the laboratory in hopes of finding a cure for the zombie virus.

Did he find a cure?  You’ll find out when you read Night of the Living Deadpool #4.

It is no surprise that Cullen Bunn is the writer of this warped tale.  After following his Deadpool Kills, The Fearless Defenders, and Superior Carnage Annual, it was easy for me to recognize Bunn’s writing style from the beginning.

Ramon Rosanas is the creative artist, and Jay Shaw provided the cover art.  The black-and-white images, with only Deadpool in color, gives a dark and creepy feel throughout the series.

Thanks to Rosanas and VC’s Joe Sabino, Deadpool’s speech bubbles and sound effects are in color.  Check out these two pages from the current issue.

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You can’t say that’s not awesome lettering.

Verdict (drum roll please)

I enjoyed reading Night of the Living Deadpool.  If you have not read this comic book yet, and you’re a Deadpool or zombie fan, then I suggest that you read this mini-series.  It’s only four issues, and it’s full of action and laughs.

This story gets 5/5 stars.

She-Hulk #1 Review

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Writer:  Charles Soule
Art:  Javier Pulido
Colors:  Muntsa Vicente

She-Hulk is a title I had been hyped about for months.  Unfortunately, that excitement vanished before I even finished reading its debut issue.

The story begins with Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, going up for her first annual review at a law firm.  Not only was she told she would not be getting a bonus, she was also informed that she was only hired for her ties to superheroes.

She later meets a potential client who is looking for someone to represent her in a case against Tony Stark.  After being put on the run-around by Starks attorneys, Jennifer decided that it was time for She-Hulk to pay him a visit.

The story was quirky and too comical, not at all what I expected from a She-Hulk title.  I read that Soule intends for the book to be fun, but I would like to see She-Hulk utilized in a more aggressive and mature way.

I was greatly disappointed with the art.  Instead of an attractive woman with a voluptuous body, Jennifer Walters looks like a green, and lanky, alien lady.

INSTEAD OF HER LOOKING LIKE THIS:

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AND THIS:

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I WOULD PREFER THAT SHE-HULK WOULD LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

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OR THIS:

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OR EVEN THIS:

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I won’t be reading beyond this issue, as I felt as if I was reading the Sunday comics in the newspaper.

Too bad Red She-Hulk was cancelled.  I enjoyed the story and the art, especially Betty Ross, aka Red She-Hulk, appearance.

Verdict (drum roll please)
I wasn’t impressed at all by this title. I’m giving it 3/5 stars.

Monica Rambeau: What’s Hair Got to do With it?

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I knew from the beginning that Mighty Avengers, the predominantly minority-led superhero team by Marvel Comics, would draw a lot of slack.  But what I didn’t expect was negative comments about Monica Rambeau’s new appearance, specifically her new hairstyle, to pour in by the masses.

Monica Rambeau, aka Spectrum, is a beautiful, intelligent, strong, and determined  African-American woman.  I am also an African-American female, with hair of black texture.  Monica is representing to the fullest.  So if you’re talking about her, then you’re also talking about me.

In case you don’t already know, this blog consists of my HONEST comic reviews, and my HONEST rants and tantrums.  Every blog post consists of my thoughts only, because I am not influenced by anyone.

I am literally shocked by the comments that I have been reading since Mighty Avengers debut issue.  Out of 20+ pages of this wonderfully crafted comic, written by Al Ewing, the only thing a lot of people mention is Monica’s hair.  The haters and complainers of Mighty Avengers are complaining about Monica’s new hairstyle, as if her hair is a character.  Last I checked, hair didn’t talk or fight.  Well at least mine don’t.

What disturbs me, most of all, is the fact that I can tell that MOST of those comments about Monica’s hair are not even written by African-Americans.

First of all, what the hell does Monica’s hair has to do with anything?

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 Nothing at all.

How is it affecting her role in comics?  It’s not.

Second, please stop with the notion that we (black women) relax our hair to conform to the standards of white beauty, because that’s just a pile of bullshit.  Black women have worn relaxed hairstyles for years.  We relax our hair to make it straight, just as white women perm their hair to make it curly.

And as for the mother mentioning the “burn” in the current issue, and above picture, a relaxer is a chemical.  Chemicals burn irritated skin, especially relaxers that contain dye.  So if you scratch your scalp before a relaxer application, it becomes irritated, and a possible burning sensation from the relaxer dye may occur.

So fucking  what Monica Rambeau is no longer wearing braids and a damn trench coat.  Getting rid of braids, afro, and opting to relax our hair instead, does not make us less black.

I read comments that stated a lot of black women like to stay natural, stick to our culture.  Well that may be the case, but for those women.  It’s not like that for all of us.

The main reason black women relax their hair is manageability/flexibility.  Relaxed hair is easier to comb and style, and we’re not spending a lot of time in the mirror trying to “make do.”

Hair of black texture is coarse and dry.  Our hair comes in three grades, fine (or good hair), medium, and coarse.  My hair is medium grade, and I haven’t relaxed it in almost a year.  But so what, it’s my choice.  Just like it’s Al Ewing, Greg Land, and Valerio Schiti’s choice to design Monica’s appearance however they like.

Let’s take a look at Misty Knight.

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Hairstyles, just like clothing, has to appropriately fit the occasion.  Misty Knight, the African-American badass from The Fearless Defenders does not have the same abilities as Monica.  She’s neither a beam of light, nor does she fly in the air.  She kicks ass on the ground.  Therefore, Misty’s braids and ponytail is befitting to her appearance in the comic.

On the other hand, I definitely would not want to look up and see Monica flying around with braids or a ‘fro.  That would look totally ridiculous.  Just as ridiculous as all those silly comments I read.

In other words, leave Monica Rambeau the hell alone.

With Schiti as the artist for the current issue, I thought maybe there would be more comments on his work, and Ewing’s writing.  And less negative comments about Land’s work and Monica’s hair.  I was wrong.

After reading the dialogue between Monica and the mother, I just knew all this nonsense about her hair would cease.  Wrong again.

I like to visit comic message boards to interact with other comic fans.  I don’t always comment, but I like to read a variety of posts and comments.  But lately I’ve found it hard to find intellectual discussions about some of my favorite comic books, especially Mighty Avengers.

By the way, if you think black women wearing straightened hair is conforming to white society, then wait until this summer when I attend the 2014 World TSC Conference in Washington, D.C.  My hair is going to be waist-length, silky-smooth and straight.

Since black heroes are not allowed to change their hairstyles,

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then I guess Luke Cage should still look like this:

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Happy Colorist Appreciation Day

I read a lot of comic books, so I have a long list of color artists that I am grateful for.  Without a color artist, we would just be staring at page after page of text and sketches.  And there is no way that I would read all of my comics in black-and-white.

Color artists bring our comic book pages to life, like Prince Charming kissing a damsel in distress.  Therefore, color artists are the backbones of the art team.

I am a bookworm, and I comb everything I read with a fine-toothed comb.  So it should be no surprise that I know the name of nearly every colorist on the comics I read, without looking.  I have no problem reading ALL of the credits on the inside cover, or wherever the credit page appears in a book.  I run an honest blog, and I feel the need to give credit where it’s due.

Just as comic fans are familiar with the work of their favorite artists, so am I.  But I can also spot the work of a few colorists, and I haven’t been wrong yet (I won’t brag too much, I don’t want to jinx myself and be wrong one day).

So I would like to wish the following people a HAPPY COLORIST APPRECIATION DAY!

  • Alex Sinclair
  • Alex Sollazzo
  • Andres Mossa
  • Antonio Fabela
  • Brad Anderson
  • Edgar Delgado
  • Frank D’ Armata
  • Ive Svorcina
  • Jeremy Cox
  • Jordie Bellaire
  • Justin Ponsor
  • Lee Loughridge
  • Frank Martin
  • Matthew Wilson
  • Mike Spicer
  • Paul Little
  • Rod Reis
  • Val Staples
  • Veronica Gandini

I read A LOT of comic books every month.  I read ongoing, mini-series, and one-shots.  Superhero, supernatural and horror have always been my favorite genres.  So that I wouldn’t omit the names of color artists on the books I’m currently reading, I went through my comics from the last 3 weeks and wrote down all their names, right before I started typing this post.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here is what I’m currently reading.

  • Afterlife with Archie
  • Avengers World
  • Black Widow
  • Constantine
  • Curse
  • Daredevil: Dark Knights
  • Deadly Class
  • Deadpool
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Harley Quinn
  • Hoax Hunters
  • Justice League
  • Justice League Dark
  • Justice League of America
  • Mighty Avengers
  • Morning Glories
  • Night of the Living Deadpool
  • Sex Criminals
  • Superior Spider-Man
  • Thor:  God of Thunder
  • Trinity of Sin:  Pandora
  • Trinity of Sin:  The Phantom Stranger
  • Wonder Woman

I told you I read A LOT of comics!

If I missed anyone, then I am apologizing in advance.

If you’re reading this blog, and you’re a colorist who’s not on my list, then HAPPY COLORIST APPRECIATION DAY to you as well!