The Casual Geek

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Animosity: A review

This is the title to show you that if you are an animal asshole, you better hope they don’t do anything about it.

Animosity is a new title (4 issues so far) from Aftershock Comics. Animosity is written by the marvelous Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells), drawn by the ruffian Rafael De Latorre (SuperZero), colored by the righteous Rob Schwager (Marvel 1602), and lettered by the meticulous Marshall Dillon (Street Fighter). The series is about a little girl named Jesse and her bloodhound Sandor (named after the Game of Thrones character) as they make their way across the country from New York to California to find Jesse’s estranged older brother. What makes it hard is that animals have gained complete sentience and the ability to speak. They all remember EVERYTHING and they are angry at the humans.

 

I happened to come across this series in the back of another aftershock comic and picked the whole series up at once. I was hooked within the first five pages. The story is razor sharp and highlights the whole gambit of human and animal reactions with the realization of well…realization. Bennett has shown once again how she is one of the masters (mistresses) of handling emotions, unique character voices, and situational awareness. The comic rewards the detailed minded with panels that harken back to Animal Farm, Planet of the Apes, and pop culture just to name a few. Latorre does a fantastic job with adapting animals to human items such as guns, kitchen, and my favorite, rocket launchers. Jesse and Sandor are strong characters that have a genuine bond, though at times it is unclear who is protecting who. I am sad that I do not have more issues to read but I am glad that I was able to start this title early and see where it goes.

 

I want to share a few of the very first pages of the book that blew me away, this was when the animals gained thought:

Pandas with Guns!!!

When is a Zombie also a Realtor?

When Drew Barrymore is rocking it out!

This Netflix show premiered yesterday, Feb 3rd and I binged hard on this show. 

As many of you have seen, Netflix has been pushing this show really hard in the last few weeks. From the two or three “diet advertisements” that gave absolutely no hints what the show was about, to the few traditional trailers, I have been curious to check this show out. 

The basic run down of this show is Sheila (Barrymore), husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant), and daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) live the cookie cutter life in the suburbs. Sheila and Joel are struggling realtors who live between a dickish Sheriff’s deputy and a Santa Monica policeman who are in a perpetual pissing match. Abby is the typical 16 year old, rebelling against her parents. Joel was the High School Prom King to Sheila’s Prom Queen, a classic situation where the husband peaked in High School. To start off, this show looked kind of boring. Well, that changes fast, at a home showing Sheila vomits A LOT, now you may think that I meant more than just a bucket, I am talking wall covering, humans don’t have that much liquid in their whole body vomit. It was CRAZY! Shortly later, Sheila lacks a heartbeat and hungers for uncooked meat. She is undead. There are jokes thrown here and there with her situation making her ravenously sexual and her lack of self-control. Like all undead shows, she quickly discovers that she craves human flesh and kills her first victim. What follows are hijinks, such as Sheila killing a man and freezes his body in a storage unit, hiding the fact that Sheila eats human flesh from Abby, a funny scene about Polish desserts, “ant” spray, a stepson trying to get back at his stepdad, and peppered throughout is a good story about a family trying to stay together in a situation that is beyond comprehension. The jokes go from tongue and cheek, fast sexual ones, and ones that build as characters develop.

The episodes are fast paced and after watching six in a row, you will be surprised where the time went. I felt that character development is solid for a show that plays more on the jokes than the drama. The writers put in solid storytelling for a basic plot.

What makes this undead (they don’t like the Z-word) show different than all the other shows (TWD, Izombie, and more) is the story that is focused more on what life is like after the changes. Sheila is more worried about being a better mom than finding a cure. She is bold, empowered, and aggressive, all qualities she self-described did not have beforehand. Joel has found a purpose and is trying to adjust just as much as Sheila. Abby doesn’t know what to make of it and knows that her parents are hiding something from her.

I look forward to the second half of the season and I think that Netflix has found a possible, offbeat hit.

 

2017 Television Reviews (Ongoing)

I will be the first to admit I have been slacking. With the current events happening so far this year, work as been hectic. The New Year brought a new administration that has been changing the game at bullet speed. That being said, I have found myself woefully behind on new TV shows this year. Every time I try to sit down and binge (or at least watch even one episode) life gives me something that needs more immediate attention. Next thing I know it is 10pm and time for bed.

But for you dear readers, I trudged up the snow-covered mountain and watched into the wee hours of the morning, plus Sundays are made for laziness to give you a handful of thoughts on some new shows. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Young Pope (House of Cardinals) Review

 

 

Young Pope (HBO)

Jude Law as Pious XIII

In a nutshell, this is a 10 episode “limited series” about the first American elected to Pope. Jude Law plays Lenny, a boy dropped off at a Catholic orphanage at an early age who becomes Pope Pious XIII. I have to get this out of the way; Jude Law has an American accent that needs some work. His accent is non-regional but has been mixed with a jumbling of accents. There are times that you want the scene to change just so he stops talking but he is very charismatic no matter the scene. Pious XIII is only 47 years old (the youngest in hundreds of years) and was elected not by his merits but as a political move by one of the Cardinal factions. The show makes a point to reinforce that fact that very little was known about his view of the Catholic Church prior to his election. People just made assumptions based on their own conclusions. The Cardinals think they can manipulate him to their will and be the ones in charge. How far from the truth they go!

Pious XIII is far from what the Cardinal suspected. He is abrasive, independent, and a paradox. He is shown to be deeply faithful one scene (privately praying) and then telling a priest he doubts God’s existence another scene. He wants to bring people closer to God, but does not want to be seen by the public (going so far as to darken the balcony for the first Papal address) at all. He is an obviously kind man but also merciless when he is speaking to others. He loves being the Pope, but hates the ceremonial duties. There are so many more but more than all, he will not be controlled by anyone.

This show is a great demonstration of sometimes the Devil that you do know is better than the Devil that you do. Before Papal election, ANY research was done about Lenny, he would have shown to be a TERRIBLE choice as the Pope. One of my favorite stories he tells has him punishing Bishops and Cardinals by sending them to Alaska (TWICE).

That being said this show is GREAT! The mix of dark humor, power jockeying, political intrigue, and a fantastic ensemble cast of characters makes this show addictive. I watched all four (what is currently available) episodes back to back. The three main story arches are building gracefully but one of the aspects of Pope Pious XIII that I am most interested in is: “Is he just playing everyone?”. There is a level of the character that does things so outlandish and there are snippets of dialogue where maybe there is more than meets the eye. He is a person that never had control until now and yet he does not come to me as power hungry. There is a smirk at the end of the title sequence that I think is the most telling of the whole show. Maybe all of his wild new rules are part of one larger scheme he has created. We will have to wait and see!

A Sleeper Hit: Rough Riders Vol 1

The one that started it all!

First off, full disclosure, I am very excited to write about this title. When I first say an article in Comic Shop News about a new title that had Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, AND Annie Oakley, my interest was peaked. I loved the idea of REAL figures of American history (still one of my favorite trivia subjects) being put in to a comic with a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, I could not wait to read it. Unfortunately, after I did some digging I found out that the release date for #1 was not for several months. To make a long story short, none of the comic stores in Dallas (one of the largest cities in America) carried the title and I really was interested in reading it. Through the power of social media, I was able to receive a copy of the first volume last week from one of the artists and WOW! Is this a good book! Let me back up a little bit and give you some back history…

 

As a teenager in the early 2000’s I saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the film based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s 1999 comic series. While the movie left much to be desired, I loved the comic title and the following spin off series. The idea of famous literary characters coming together to save the world just resonated with me. What I also gravitated to, much to do with Alan Moore’s writing, was the non “marquee” characters that made up the team. Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, and Allan Quartermain, all from massively important books, but not characters that the ordinary person would think of when they recall heroes of literature. The blending of elements from different 19th century works fell perfectly together and was familiar yet new. Rough Riders continues in this spirit and definitely adds to it.

 

The basic arc of Rough Riders Vol. 1 is that a no-nonsense, brash, adventurous, scotch-drinking (Pre-President) Teddy Roosevelt, assembles a team to go to Cuba due to some questionable circumstances. What follows is an engaging look at the sides of very familiar names in American history that I doubt they would want you to see. Adam Glass does a great job with writing stories that are fast pace, memorable, and does not waste a panel. The action makes sense and I actually took a moment to realize that the amount of character development that is done in seven issues is huge. I understand that it is fictionalized, but to have Oakley’s drinking explained in two panels and you can understand why Teddy found her the way he did is satisfying for the reader more than I think the writer would believe. I do want to commend Glass for putting in some important details that really helped to sell the story. Peppered throughout the dialogue are comments about how Blacks, Jews, and Women are treated and viewed by society at this time. It shows that there is a sense of realism and acknowledgement that you rarely see in modern comments. Even having the main characters show bigotry demonstrates that the characters are not the best versions of themselves.

 

A book is only as good as the author, for a comic book, the art has to be just as good for a story to hold your attention. Patrick Olliffe makes some very interesting choices for his panels. You will not find a page of panels where characters just look at one another and nothing is conveyed. One of the details that Olliffe created especially well were the characters’ eyes. After I finished the book, I went back and looked at how the eyes were drawn corresponding with what was occurring in the story at that time. To compare, I flipped through a couple of popular current titles with well-regarded artists and looked at their eyes. I noticed in many cases that it was just a filler space. My two favorite artistic parts in the book were Teddy’s dream scene and Houdini freeing himself from a tree. With the art is the coloring. Gabe Eltaeb did phenomenal work creating color pallets of each character that were distinct yet cohesive. Annie Oakley’s (sorry if you are color blind) clothes could be pulled lickity split even if you are flipping through the pages. Eltaeb contributes just as much in the storytelling with his hues and shades as any other member of the team. The work that he puts in to the smallest thing to make a detail stand out for the betterment of the reader is something that Eltaeb does particularly well in all his titles.

 

In closing, I called Rough Riders a sleeper hit because I do not feel that a lot of people have read it just yet but when they do, they love it. It has the mix of all the elements that a reader wants in a title. The only sad part was that there aren’t any more issues to read. Thank you Gabe for letting me read this.

Final thought, it becomes more and more obvious to me that with smaller publishers, in this case Aftershock, live or die based on word of mouth about their titles. Please check them out, Aftershock has some amazing concepts and I am actually really interested to see some of the titles featured in the back of the book.

Click HERE to check out Aftershock

 

Ongoing Series That You Should Be Reading (Part 2)

SAGA 

Link to Volume 1 of Saga

Thank you for checking out the second installment of titles you should be reading. Like many comic readers, I have my weekly/monthly pull list but there are some titles that are more worthy of a share than others. Not saying that other titles aren’t good, they are just not ones that you answer immediately to “do you have a comic that you would recommend?”.

Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s epic space opera gets you lassoed in like a steer at the rodeo from issue one. It has had such an affect on me, it contributed to my resurgence in comic reading. I remember exactly where I was when I read the first issue. I downloaded a digital copy off Comixology when they offered it back in 2013 for free. I knew nothing about it other than I had heard of it on a list somewhere of new titles. I downloaded it and immediately bought the first two volumes. It was so good that I got my (now wife) girlfriend hooked as well to the point that she would ask me and still does to read my copy after they come out.

If you have not read it before or live under a rock, the cliff notes summary is that Alana and Marko, who are soldiers on opposite sides of a planetary war fall in love and have a child together. They then become wanted fugitives because of their love and the child it produces. The story is given an extra twist by being told from the narrations of their daughter, Hazel at some unknown time in the future. Vaughan weaves a tale that includes flying trees, bounty hunters, a ghost babysitter, robot princes, kidnapping, and a seal creature that is both the bravest and cutest thing in comics short of being a kids’ comic. This is not what earns it its place.

The reason that this is a title that needs to hold a spot in your buy pile is the world that is created and the realism that you would not expect to find in a science fiction comic. The series starts with a tale of two people trying to escape a hostile environment and find a place that they can raise a child and live out their lives in relative peace. Their fears and concerns are the same ones that you would expect to have in a similar situation yourself. You see yourself in the arguments (both the intensity and the frivolousness) that they have in the books, in your own household. Fiona Staples then masterfully crafts these characters in simply amazing places. The depth of characters and their motivations are well done and I feel that there isn’t a page that doesn’t serve a purpose. The purpose may not be apparent immediately, I have actually had to go to back issues and remind myself where a character popped up before and their introduction. Unfortunately, this is probably my own doing since there have been times where I will have 2 or 3 issues backed up. Saga is done with a sense of love and genuine interest in writing something special. While Saga does have parts that lag and the story can go off in tangents, it is a highly rewarding story that will go in directions that make perfect sense but incredibly unexpected.

Ongoing Series That You Should Be Reading (Part 1)

Aquaman Rebirth:

I will say first off, previous to the Rebirth line, I was not a follower of Aquaman very closely. I would put myself somewhere around 40% on the spectrum of believing that Aquaman was a lame superhero to the end of the spectrum where he is the king of the vast majority of the planet’s entire mass and can kick ass to untold levels. That being said, I spent a lot of time watching videos such as Comic Explained to catch me up with the mythos of the King of the Ocean. The character interested me and I wanted to see what this next iteration of one of DC’s mainstays would be like. As I did with all the main characters (Bat-Family, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, The Flash, and Aquaman) Rebirth line, I grabbed the one shot and the number one to see what the future held. It was an added bonus that the covers of the first few issues had an aesthetic to them that was so rich and summed up so much at just a quick glance.

 

I am hooked. The writing of Dan Abnett and the drawing of Walker are a one two punch with me, but what really put me over and what I gravitated to was Gabe Eltaeb’s color work and Drew Hennessy’s inking. Eltaeb has done a great job at making the work come alive and create a look to the panels that really spoke to me. From the depths of the sea to the surface world, the work pops. The writing highlights a man stuck between numerous worlds. Is he the King? The Hero? The Criminal? Or all of the above? The story can be sluggish at times while information is parceled out but the slow speed is quickly changed to action that you would see on a summer blockbuster storyboard. I am still new to this hero but so far the title is one that I will be closely following.

Worthy Reads: Marvel’s Civil War II Kingpin #4

 

Thanks for joining me! Here is my next installment of worthy reads. I am doing another, while much shorter than my last, issue of Kingpin. Enjoy!

If you are interested, I will start adding links for Comixology for the issues referred to. Just click the issue picture.

The story opens with Kingpin announced “dead”. We get to see a swath of Marvel characters react to the news. Punisher is of course smug with himself. I particularly got a kick out of Daredevil and Spider-man’s respective surprised reactions. DD is stopped in his track in court and Spidey is of course found to watch the news report upside down in supposedly Time Square. Small details like these can be found throughout this issue. For the most part, this issue is sluggish with a few bright spots. I understand that there would be a power vacuum when the Kingpin is thought to be out of the picture and it is interesting to see that Fisk will always find a way to reach out to advance and protect his empire. But I did not like the swift killing of people after they seemed to be working for Fisk by other Fisk goons. It did not seem that Fisk’s rehab was all that lengthy considering the extreme amount of damage sustained to him the previous issue. By the time it gets to the confrontation at the end, the Kingpin is back to full form, ready to take on all challengers. This issue is the last of this volume but on February 8th, a new volume of Kingpin will be published. I will keep you updated.

Worthy Reads: Marvel’s Civil War II Kingpin #3

I know it has been a while since I wrote anything but I am making a concerted effort so bare with me. With the support of some people close to me, I have the fire back to post a bunch of material in the coming weeks. The biggest hurdle that I faced was the fact that my laptop died and I do not have to a computer otherwise to use. I am borrowing a Mac but as a PC user for my whole life, there is a little adjustment. Plus, since I have been off for so long, I have forgotten a few things about website design and posting.

Over the Christmas break I wrote a few articles and polished some ideas for reoccurring titles. This is a short little series about comic titles I am reading that are worth a pick up. I will do my best to highlight but not spoil. Regardless, I think they are worth a pick up.

Back when Marvel introduced their Civil War II line, I picked up Matthew Rosenberg’s Kingpin #1. Wilson Fisk is a character that I have always found interesting. He was introduced as a Spider-man villain in Amazing Spider-man #50 and since then has been a thorn in the side of a smorgousboard of Marvel heroes. He is always calculated, uses people’s underestimation of him to his benefit, and I am impressed how he is a character that is given as much depth when he could just as easily be a crime boss that comes in and out of comics when an overarching villain is needed. I digress…

Rosenberg’s writing to this point is fast and sheds light into the train of thought of Wilson Fisk as he is trying to discover who betrayed him. Kingpin’s violence is depicted as much as for survival as it is a battle within himself with the man he wants to be and the image that the world expects of him. The issue is also well paired with Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and Hayden Sherman’s style of drawing. They are both able to depict very clear messages and highlight intensity of the characters actions. The one panel that stood out to me from the whole book was when The Punisher is hanging on to dear life to the knife handle embedded into Kingpin’s chest before it slips out. I got the sense of both the resiliency and strength that Kingpin is known for, and the vulnerability of what was about to happen. SHIELD coming at the end seemed over the top though on the last page. All in all, a great read

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San Diego Comic Con Bingo Cards

Welcome to another post by ME, The Casual Geek, I am getting back into the swing of things. Comic Con season has begun for me. Like many, I have been CONSUMING information regarding San Diego Comic Con 2016. So much of what I have heard from people that have gone in the past are blah, blah, all you will do is wait in line, blah, blah, be prepared to spend all this money, and such. Well there is so much more to this colossal event. After watching a great video about free swag and the importance of experiences over just spending money at SDCC. I made up bingo cards of different things to look for and created a simple game for my fiance and I to play while we are there for the two days. Perfect for 1-10 people. Please feel free to use any of these cards for yourself! They ten cards are a mix of about 55 different items I thought would be fun. I know some are common place, but give me suggestions and I will make more.

Let me know what you think!

Rules:

  1. First one to get 5 in a row wins (Duh). Photo or Physical evidence is needed to get the square. (We are playing that you need to be in at least 50% of the cosplay pictures)
  2. Only one person can claim the same “item” (I.E. two people don’t get credit for the exact same person cosplaying as Mexican Batman). Flip a coin to see who gets credit.
  3. Have Fun with the catagories! Here are some of my ideas
    1. Hearts Desire – Freebie, but has to be something you like
    2. WTF Costume – A Cosplayer that you have no idea where it comes from
    3. Booth Employee – Must have company logo (will break a tie if said employee is in costume)
    4. Cosplay in a wheel chair – There are some GREAT costumes where people have tricked out their chairs.

 

Bingo Card 1Bingo Card 10 Bingo Card 9 Bingo Card 8 Bingo Card 7 Bingo Card 6 Bingo Card 5 Bingo Card 4 Bingo Card 3 Bingo Card 2

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