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republic of thieves

I Need The Thorn of Emberlain. Because Republic of Thieves was…

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gardens of the moon

Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen Mic Drop

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wonder woman

Wonder Woman: From DC Trinity to House Pantheon

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new frontier

DC: THE NEW FRONTIER… Stripp’d

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phonogram

Phonogram… Stripp’d

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deadpool

Deadpool | Badass of the Week

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goonies

Troy’s Bucket (and Why I Ain’t Riding Up It)

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sandman

The Sound of Her Wings | Sandman Meditations

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Thanos | Badass of the Week

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Books & Comics

Sheev’s Bored Game – STAR WARS: Aftermath Empire’s End

February 26
star wars aftermath empire's end

So I just finished Empire’s End even earlier than I initially thought I would, though I’ve always been a quick reader. Whether that’s a positive reflection or not is something I mentioned in my previous post but to summarize Empire’s End almost feels like a practice in repetition, as the same qualities inherent in the final chapter of Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars new-canon trilogy also aptly describe my feeling of the series as a whole.

It’s kind of all momentum. It will, in the end, give something to make people happy but not with what I think most wanted and readers will have to decide whether it was all worth it or not. Before you go on understand that I will be spoiling this novel, so stop if for some reason that offends you, I’m not here as a public service, I’m only here to relay my experience.

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Books & Comics

A STAR WARS Aftermath: Empire’s End Friday Reads with New Robin Hobb on Deck

February 24
star wars aftermath empire's end

update: finished Empire’s End, my thoughts. Spoilers in link.

Friday is here and like any true STAR WARS fan this  week I’m checking out the latest new novel by Chuck Wendig, STAR WARS Aftermath: Empire’s End. I’d usually be done by now but I didn’t get an early copy like I usually do this time around but truth be told it’s been a traumatic week for me with a loss of a family pet and I probably would not have got to it until now anyway, plus I’ve been finishing up Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne.  I’m not too far into it yet but thus far it seems to continue an upward that began with the previous Aftermath installment Life Debt.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Peyo’s Smurfs Before Lovato, the Lost Village, Before Everything, in Spirou

February 23
smurfs

In a recent post I talked about my habit of picking up first appearances and debuts of pop culture items, a hobby that definitely came from a childhood of collecting sports cards and comics. Be it a rookie card or debut of a comic character, these are things I was trained to by guides to value more than others things in the hobby and recently I picked up some related to the Smurfs, a cartoon that was on constant rotation when I was really young.

The Smurfs, however, I think are MUCH older than most people think.

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Books & Comics

My Kind(t) of Science Fiction – VALIANT X-O Manowar #1 Review

February 22
x-o manowar 1

Wow, the joy and surprise of super-sized digital.

Typically, especially at my age, I tend to tune out action in comics unless I’m reading manga and it’s partly because I feel like writers today, especially in superhero comics, view them as elements they have to include in the actual character story they want to get to. The number of actual action scenes that I’d consider memorable over the last several years in western comics would not cause me to use all of the digits my two hands afford me to recount. Thor hammer heaves during Infinity are few and far between.

This issue of X-O Manowar does not add to them but it does something rather different. Almost the whole issue feels like a  battle and it somehow works. It feels like so much is happening you feel like the issue has to end two or three times before it actually does because you just can’t have this many pages. Indeed, I asked myself if this was a super-sized issue or is this just the most compact and efficient comic I’ve read in awhile, and indeed it is a 40-pager which makes me now just want to say ALL comics should be 40 pages. I’ve been left pretty cold on first issues for awhile now and X-O Manowar #1 hit the spot.

The Aric we meet is one we see in numerous war stories where a man is drawn back into conflict he’d rather not be in – think Mel in the Patriot – echoing those stories of some master of destruction that has retired and found peace that’s ask to do what he may indeed do best – a man of skills,  a very particular set of skills be it from Taken or literally an episode on The CW of Supernatural I just watched with a former badass Prince of Hell who just wants to fish in a shit-hole town and be left alone.  That Aric becomes a farmer is a common story trope of character in fiction who turned from lives of violence and while I can’t say what he’s hacking on the first page is an alien form of hay, or if those stacks in the foreground are also indeed stacks of hay, I took the initial image we are given in the issue of a powerful man, weapon held high, trapped in the duality of  being hidden on this planet – hiding in a galactic haystack.

I don’t really think Aric truly wants to be left alone. I think he knows he should want to be left alone but as a hidden nuke, never truly inert. This assumption leads me to a confession. I am a big VALIANT fan but I’m not caught up on X-O Manowar. Beyond what’s going on in the current Stalinverse storyline (which I’m really enjoying and did not expect to) I don’t know how the previous X-O series ended.

This has an unexpected positive, or at least opportune, outcome in that I can ask myself if this issue serves as a capable  jump off and offers a story that keeps me looking forward. I think it does so very well, the art by Tomas Giorello is always engaging, constantly leading you eye to what’s next, everything is clear and alien. It’s infinitely better art than I’ve seen in some VALIANT “event” titles and if they have a choice, Tomas is a keeper.

I mentioned I haven’t been following X-O. The last year or so I’ve felt myself most engaged with Matt Kindt bloc of VALIANT titles, and while I certainly venture away from when other issues look interesting, Kindt is the writer that I feel delivers the most of what I enjoy and it shows in this issue. I rather extensively reviewed his first Divinity series and saw new wave science fiction being played out even as we got panels of a kid reading pulp-forebearers. He uses Science fiction elements but wraps them in pulp clothes that fit the medium more and it just always give me confidence in Kindt series’, even when there are odd happenstances (I  have issues with recent Ninjak events – loved the early stuff). Take this issue, which feels like a high octane story you’d imagine happens in something like Warhammer, even when you don’t know what Warhammer is, but just noticed the cool art. Yet Kindt also drops what Aric found on this planet. Schon. Literally beauty. Urth, what he ran from, the past, or if you are a science fiction head, Earth in one of headiest science fiction book series ever written by Gene Wolfe.

So while many can look at the obvious analogies of Conan, and indeed the barbarian, could be come the warlord, could become King (or for VALIANT: Soldier, General, Emperor), I combine that with my own thought of a man in possession of his own special kind of Terminus Est.

There is a scene where he digs up his armor and while it is presented to us as a man asserting his control of it, his mastery over it, a panel we see is one we often see in images of fantasy publications or films with treasure hunters, a character face forward looking at treasure and its glow cascading off his face, a face of a person enamoured with what he’s looking at. In love with it. Addicted to it. Look at the interaction between Aric and Schon, and then his interaction with his armor and tell me which one he values more, even if acknowledging, especially acknowledging, he values the former quite a a bit.

I like that while we have what I feel is a conflicted man, we are shown that without the armor Aric is formidable on his own. He’s kicking a lot of ass and we are left with the thought that he has assessed the next step of this war and had deduced he needs the armor for it, a tool he uses and controls at will, instead of simply being in denial that the armor is his natural partner, fit for him, even though the union is connected by a ring.

The X-O Manowar relaunch is a winner in the first issue and breaks a trend that I’ve been feeling of first issues not really being true complete first issues until halfway through the second issue, and this 40-pager introduction was the perfect solution for that. This brings up questions regarding the ability of comics to deliver in their more traditional length but simply judging what’s in front of me, I really enjoyed this issue, and because it’s Matt Kindt writing it I’m confident that at least the 1st arc will continue in quality, and the second issue will probably be a nice change-up. I do wish we’d be seeing more of Tomas Giorello though because it’s working.

I do want to clarify something regarding the use of the space in this issue. There’s not a whole lot of extra content here regarding characters and nuance from a regular sized issue but what you are getting feels more like a  good normal sized issue that doesn’t feel short because the extra pages allow for the heavy action act. So while technically you are getting extra, I’d describe it more as you are getting something that simply feels right and complete.

I expect Matt Kindt comics to be good and it was.

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Books & Comics

Left Out But Must Haves On Any Top 100 Must Read Science Fiction / Fantasy Debuts

February 21
ready player one

So earlier this year I read this piece on Book Riot titled 100 Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Debuts. I’m not too into lists but also know that one I made a few years ago about the great speculative fiction novels of the last decade is a piece that I casually still have random people hit me up on social media about and be like “are you the guy who wrote that?”, and it’s usually about having played a (very) small part in expanding upon what were then prevalent conceits about what fantasy was in particular (people tend to get science fiction). It’s pretty flattering and don’t really take too much credit in what what probably an exercise in laziness as it was easier to make premade list than join discussions asking for new books. For this reason I realize the value of such lists and it was reading it, and bringing back memories of getting initial publisher promo material and advance galleys.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Word is BORNE by Jeff VanderMeer and Read Pile Status in Binge World

February 19
borne jeff vandermeer

Just thought I’d start blogging again with a small update on what I’m currently reading and what I have been reading. It’s been a bit of a rough week for me with my dog (and friend’s) terminal health issues and to be honest I haven’t been reading a whole lot lately, mostly because I like going outside and looking out at oceans, with beautiful people on them, and when I am indoors, writing on television has just become so much better with so many more outlets, I haven’t felt the need to find other things to do. I also haven’t been seeing much that had the look of a must read in the midst of a bunch of that could be cools.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Beren and Luthien Primer as More Tolkien Book Love Coming

October 23
beren and Luthien

And I do mean love. This is THE love story of the Middle-earth.

The news dropped this week that we’d be getting our first new Middle-Earth based book since The Children of Hurin from 2007. This time around they cooked up something that speaks directly to, or at least more directly, to even non-diehard fans of JRR Tolkien, revealing that Beren and Luthien will be published next year. This is great news for me because The Silmarillion is perhaps my favorites of Tolkien’s writings.

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Books & Comics | Interviews

Peter V. Brett Interview – The Warded Man Himself

October 22
Peter V. Brett

For the longest time I knew I had conducted an interview with Peter V. Brett but for some reason maybe the file never carried over during various iterations of the site. I finally found a copy in my email circa 2008. This would have been right before his debut novel was released and I recall vividly I had one question I really wanted to ask him after reading, so I knew my interview wasn’t something I was just imagining. Here it is and I must say he gave some great thoughtful answers to some rather base questions by yours truly.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Who is directing X-O Manowar?? VALIANT Boss Drops X-O Movie Tidbit

October 2
x-omanowar

Last week we got some VALIANT movie news related to Harbinger and Bloodshot where I expressed caution to VALIANT fans who have been hearing rumors about films forever, from Matthew Vaughn circling Bloodshot to J. Michael Straczynski writing a Shadowman script, a property I think could work, even if the comics themselves have been at best so-so. This week we have VALIANT’s boss dropping that he wishes someone  would drop who is attached to direct X-O Manowar. What can we take from this?

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Books & Comics

BKV’s The Escapists – Going Back to a Coming of Age

September 29
escapists

While often times I think fans of comics and thus their creators are a bit too preoccupied with the same ailment that some Fantasy and Science Fiction writers and tend to trade the walking stick for the mirror often and further, stand so close they fog up the picture. Thus my conclusion is that one Brian K. Vaughan has no reflection but truly exists in both worlds, one the fan, one the creator, all the skills, that he has taken on a project spurned on by the creation of another planewalker, Michael Chabon, whose Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay certainly won the Pulitzer throughout the Multiverse in a socially acceptable double dip. Either that, or he doesn’t breath.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Before Youtube, Ninjak Debuts with a Bloodshot Problem in VALIANT Comics

ninjak

Okay, so Ninjak is going to be featured in an upcoming live action webseries on Youtube by Bat in the Sun, which considering they don’t do cosmetics tutorials is a reasonably big channel on youtube and has more subscribers/watchers than any American comic book has. I say American because I think One Piece still keeps comics alive and hovers around that 7 figure readership. I follow some entertainment channels on Youtube obsessively but can’t claim to have heard of them until the Ninjak announcement, which is no shade, this is just not really my type of thing, though I will admit that I did see an Epic Rap Battle pitting George R.R. Martin against J.R.R. Tolkien which was one of the funniest (and passed my fact check) things I’ve seen all year.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Thought Bubble (VALIANT edition): Sony Swaps Harbinger and Bloodshot.

September 27

harbinger

So word has dropped that Sony may be fast tracking VALIANT into our lives after a couple years ago having to prematurely announce a possible slate due to the Sony hacks. The Wrap indicates that Harbinger has shifted places with Bloodshot, the long thought to be launch title for a VALIANT shared cinematic universe, and now Bloodshot will follow Harbinger, though the story will be based on the Bloodshot run that began in 2012.

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Books & Comics | featured

I Need The Thorn of Emberlain. Because Republic of Thieves was…

republic of thieves

Okay. So let me be clear, I dig me some Scott Lynch books. I really liked his debut, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and I think I might find myself in the minority when I say I enjoyed the follow-up in his Gentlemen Bastard cycle, Red Seas Under Red Skies, even more. I go back when it comes to reading about the exploits of the Thorn of Camorr. I was on this probably just after choice frameshifters were after hearing about it from other authors I was interviewing who had read early drafts/manuscripts and were telling me behind the scenes that Scott Lynch was what was next. I have documentation.

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Books & Comics

VALIANT Beyond Gold Key – Early Harbinger, X-Manowar, & Rai Revisited

harbinger

In a recent post about Toyo Harada I talked about the order of VALIANT character appearances in the original VALIANT universe from the early 1990s. I thought about it some and decided to piece together three reviews I did of first three original (post-Magnus and Solar) VALIANT properties in their initial arcs as titles. Please note that these are several years old so some of the references might not be up to date and I’m not a good writer now, so you can imagine how I was then. These cover the two hardcovers that the current VALIANT owner released of the classic material, Harbinger: The Beginning and X-O Manowar: Birth, along with the classic first TPB of Rai from the ‘90s.

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Movies & TV

Thought Bubble: Know I’m Late But I Just Caught NBC’s This Is Us…

September 26

this is us

I very rarely catch any network TV. I don’t say that from an annoying hipster friend vantage point, it’s just that I typically don’t watch any shows that aren’t called Game of Thrones as they first air so rarely ever have to watch cable, and any consumption of  TV I do is usually on any of the major streaming providers who have their own, and often, better original content. Hell, it’s hard to get me off Youtube as we have this odd thing occurring where the discussion of some shows or film are actually more entertaining and convenient than the actual shows or films themselves.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Almost 30 Years Later, Let’s Remember the G.I. Joe Rawhides

gi joe

Back in 1987 fans of G.I. Joe got an animated film that has gone on to become a pretty divisive movie during a time which was probably the height of the popularity for the G.I. Joe brand. Much like the Transformers animated film from the previous year it can quite plainly be seen as a feature length commercial for a new wave, maybe even a generation, of characters. I was overseas as a kid and when one of my friends got this on VHS it was HUGE news in my circle, a part of a close knit U.S. military community in Italy. Back then it was just awesome and when you click it on now you realize that the intro remains one of the best in cartoon history.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Vos and Asajj Golden in STAR WARS Dark Disciple

dark disciple star wars

I want to get the basics out of the way first. If you don’t like or want spoilers don’t read on. I will tell you the point of a person reading a book and then sitting down to write up about what they didn’t just read when there is one. Seems like a waste of time to me, so go read the book and watch Thrawn return to new canon like any good Star Wars fan this week and come back here.

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Books & Comics

The Wonders of Jonathan Carroll’s Wooden Sea

September 25

the wooden seaJonathan Carroll is one of, and perhaps the first writer who went on that list of “all I need to know is that the book is out” authors. I don’t need to know what it’s about. I don’t need to know where or when it takes place. I don’t need to know if it’s called fantasy, mystery, horror or science fiction — because such questions, such words, cannot contain Carroll.

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Books & Comics

Behold The Man – VALIANT’s Divinity #1-4, a Flawed But Real Review of a Great Comic

Much like waiting for the trade I decided to combine my reviews of the first four issues of VALIANT’s Divinity, the Matt Kindt written introduction of a new character into the VALIANT universe, and as an aside, one of the best comics of last year. Why should you care? Well, I’m pretty smart so you should read my reviews. Actually, I’m actually not smart at all but I do actually try to give my thoughts and convey my experience from reading the comic and not just summarize them, and I enjoy people who do the same so you might too. Or you might hate it, and that’s totally cool too. I should remind people that I did these as the single issues came out, so if I look dumb with some, well tbh most, of my guesses it’s because I didn’t just read a trade and review the issues.

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Movies & TV

Grand Admiral Thrawn Steps into Canon on STAR WARS Rebels

September 24

thrawn

I’m going to guess I’m not the only person my age who did an unusual thing for them and sat around waiting for a live watching of an episode of a cartoon. In the name of Thrawn.

Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels starts in the middle of action with Steps into Shadow but I won’t be touching on any of that. You will with little doubt be able to get terrible full episode review write ups all around the web and you can listen to probably great commentary from places like Making Star Wars or Rebel Grrrl, two Star Wars podcasts I highly recommend. Add them both to your Itunes as soon as possible.

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Books & Comics | Movies & TV

Pocket Sized But Full Flavor Ice and Fire for Japanese Game of Thrones Fans

game of thrones

Ah… Game of Thrones in Japanese on marble in the house. Almost better than the Robb Report right here. Perfect credit at the Iron Bank.

I’m thinking it may be time to do a reread of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire since HBO hasn’t blessed us yet with a off-season spin-off, even though I need Robert’s Rebellion or Dunk and Egg stat, nor has Martin delivered Winds of Winter yet.

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