One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Recently, actress January Jones discussed her role of portraying Emma Frost to the Daily Mail for the newest installment of the X-Men films, X-Men First Class.

January Jones is Emma Frost

There, she is quoted to say,

“You hold yourself differently and it creates that incredibly feminine shape, though I’m glad I don’t have to wear it every day. Emma Frost, my X-Men character, has an impossible body. She has huge boobs with nice, womanly curves, but she is also ripped with muscle.”

Brilliantly put, Jones. Emma Frost is the impossible. She’s a hyper-sexualized cartoon character. There is no way women or men should be subjected to the blatant impossibilities of how women “should” look.

She goes on to say,

“In the amount of time I had to train it just wasn’t possible to achieve that amount of muscle without losing all the good bits. We finished Mad Men at the end of August and I had one day to fly to London to start X-Men.”

You know what? Nevermind.


Wednesday’s Reviews May 18 – Take Two

Giant Size X-Men

X-Men Giant Size #1
Christopher Yost (writer), Paco Medina (pencils, present story), Dalabor Talajic (penicls, inker, past story), Juan Vlasco (inker, present story), Marte Gracia (colours, present story), Will Quintana (colours, past story), Joe Caramagna (letters), Ed McGuiness (cover). $4.99

Nothing shakes up the X-World than a new Giant Sized X-Men issue. I mean, a X-Men: Giant Size (let’s not get confused here).

Carrying from Gischler’s X-Men run, the team is battling for their lives on Utopia against the Neo’s – a group of highly evolved mutants. Their purpose: to figure out why a mutant baby has been born from humans but not with the Neo’s.

It seems to be a great story to tackle which but is suddenly dissolved when the Evolutionaries come in and decide to wipe out what is left of the Neo’s. Left in fear, the X-Men are beside themselves to see where the Evolutionaries will take them next. It turns out, Cyclops may have all of the answers locked in the back of his mind.

Of course, this can only be done via a retcon which is placed somewhere around X-Men #4 in 1964. Unlike recent retcons, this one still has a lot of room to work with, nor does it seem as if it will drastically change how the X-Men “grew up.” To top it all off, because the Evolutionaries are involved, you cannot really say, “Well Professor X would’ve found blocked memories” because they’re fricken Evolutionaries. It’s a pretty solid retcon.

What is very exciting is the massive cast of artists on board for the story. Medina and Talajic both compliment each other with two different art forms that stylistically blend well together. Talajic actually gives a “classic feel” with his art for his “past story,” leaving Quintana tons of room to colour over and make it still feel modern – a brilliant mix. It definitely is coloured like a 60’s comic but is rendered for current times. My only beef is how Jean Grey changes from a man-face to a woman-face in some panels. However, it’s forgiven with how much emphasis is placed into giving the characters great emotions.

With Medina, his battle spreads are awe-inspiring. The title page was so well-rendered with Gracia’s colours that I still cannot stop looking at it. With the Neo’s deaths too, the fear in the Neo’s eyes move me emotionally and ultimately left me feeling terrified for the enemy. Aside from some impossible clothing worn by Storm and Emma (as per usual), I really cannot complaint about the art.

By the end of the story, I’m asking myself, “What about the Neo’s?” and “Why are the Evolutionaries only doing this now?” That’s the beauty of great story-telling folks – it keeps you begging for more.

Grade: 8/10

As a side, it’s interesting that the Neo’s say, “A year ago, our numbers were decimated. . . for over a year, there have been no live Neo births.” Does that suggest that M-Day was only a year ago? Hmm.

GNamor Annual

Namor: The First Mutant Annual #1
James Asmus (writer), Max Fiumara (pencils, inks), Norman Lee (inks), Jim Charalampiois (colours), Jared K. Fletcher (letters), Black Frog (cover). $3.99

The three-part story “Escape from the Negative Zone” concludes with Namor’s first, and only annual. (Namor: The First Mutant series has been canceled with issue #11).

Fortunately, this story still packs quite a punch. Namor has gone berserk without water, and Hope is dying with Cyclops and Steve Rogers running out of time to save her. To top it off, Blastaar’s still trying to remove the intruders from his realm. Complete anarchy ensues!

But what brings the story around full-circle, is closure for the X-Men fans. In every X-book, we’ve gotten used to seeing Cyclops baby Hope followed by Hope disobeying Cyclops right after. With some intervention to Hope by Steve Rogers, it is fair to say she is a new woman. Even more so, Cyclops gives Hope full reign to use her powers which, I suppose, can close the argument on what Hope’s powers can do. By the end of the story, I can say that I see Hope in a new light (pun?) and am comforted knowing that the X-Men are not on the backs of Steve Rogers mind, thusly making the mutants relevant in the Marvel U.

But lest we forget Dr. Nemesis and his hilarious banter throughout the story, keeping me smile with every panel appearance.

Fiumara’s work is pretty impressive at times. I can really understand what the characters are feeling on their faces as their expressions are so well-drawn, I do not need letters to tell me what’s happening in the panel. Unfortunately, my problems lie with limb proportions and heads. From time to time, Namor’s head looks like he’s “Forever Alone,” while Hope’s foot in one panel suggests that her leg is five feet long. Little issues like this perk out but are ultimately saved by the good rendering of Charalampiois’ colours. I especially love how well coloured the scenes with Rogers and Hope are together.

As a conclusion to the three annuals, I can see that it was to develop both the X-Men’s roles in the Marvel U, as well as Cyclops’ and Hope’s relationship together.

Was the story at all necessary? Probably not. Was it a lot of fun to read? Absolutely.

Grade: 6/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Wednesday’s Reviews May 18 – Take One

After a hectic work week, I hath returned to bring you reviews beyond your wildest imagination!

Or something like that.

I’m still on a Thor high, alright?


Avengers #13
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils, colours), Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jamie Mendoza & Al Vey (inkers), Clayton Cowles (letters), Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Javier Rodriguez (cover). $3.99

“Fear Itself” hits the Avengers with. . . nothing happening. In fact, this issue takes us back to Fear Itself #1 with the end of the book showing Stark announcing the Avengers promise to rebuild Asgard. Needless to say, the book really does not pick up much steam and simply holds one constant tone of nothing-happening-at-all throughout. When the action that takes place is Spider-Woman crossing her arms or Thor laughing, you know you’re in for a thrill-ride.

The story does show a bit of promise. We’re given little tidbits of information that something has gone wrong, or currently is. It’s not too clear. The readers are teased about the events of Fear Itself in this book with an unknown interviewing each Avenger separately. But like I’ve mentioned before, Bendis is yet again doing his panels in the most repetitive way, which I’d like to now trademark as the “Block Page.”

. . . It’ll take off. Just you wait.

As for plot, we’re given a sense that Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are going to form a relationship, and Volstagg has no chance with Ms. Marvel. We’re also given plenty of giggle moments with Rulk and Spider-Man from time to time which made up for some of the Block Pages.

But thank god for Chris Bachalo and his rag-tag group of inkers (which came with him after his X-Men run). If it wasn’t for his fun-filled artwork, I think my eyeballs would have melted from seeing another Romita-Block Page. Bachalo shakes things up with some fun in the colour department too. A great spread of the Avengers in the ruins of Asgard definitely shine as one of the highlights to this issue. However, minor issues like Thor suddenly having a beard for a panel and Beast looking like Dark Beast are a bit unnerving for me.

Avengers #13 becomes a story that really fails to launch yet fortunately has some saving grace from Bachalo and friends.

Grade: 5/10

Alpha Flight

Alpha Flight #0.1
Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Ben Oliver & Dan Green (pencils, inks), Frank Martin (colours), Simon Bowland (letters), Phil Jimenez & Frank D’Armata (cover). $2.99

Alpha Flight is back as Marvel’s #0.1 series brings you a good-sized introduction to the team. If you haven’t read about Canada’s superheroes before, now is the best time to jump on!

What’s most interesting is that the team is split up for the majority of the story. Sasquatch, Marrina, Shaman, Vindicator and Aurora are off in the St. Lawrence River fighting Citadel, while the remaining team fight Persuasion (Purple Man’s daughter and ex-member of Beta Flight) in Montreal. Both stories eventually tie in together with a “Fear Itself” angle at the conclusion of both battles. By the end of the story, Alpha Flight is whole, while Northstar questions whether or not he should join.

Building a set-up for the Fear Itself series tie-in, only little bits of the team are fleshed throughout the book. Surprisingly, given Northstar is the only member who didn’t die and has been seen in X-Men; he was given a lot of development with his relationship while the rest of Alpha Flight seems neglected. Also surprising is that there is no mention that Aurora is his sister. In fact, Sasquatch and Marrina hardly gets any time in the story at all.

The art leaves me skeptical. Although the brilliant colours really bring out the life of the story, the actual characters seem stiff. A lot of scenes seem like character poses, while particular face close-ups seem like photo references or possible traces. I could be wrong, but its definitely the vibe I feel from the art.

Despite the peculiar set-up for our Canadian heroes, Alpha Flight does what its supposed to do with a 0.1 issue of Marvel. Let us just hope the eight-issue series gives the team some justice.

Grade: 6/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic Book News Update!

I’m pretty busy with so-called “real life” work this week. Since I won’t be able to get out reviews or other fun things, I figure I’d fill you all in with some extra-special stuff.

Jim Shooter’s Storytelling Lecture

Iconic writer, editor and all things in-between, Jim Shooter, has recently been posting transcripts from a 1994 seminar he did about art telling stories through Jack Kirby’s art. They’re absolutely astounding and breathtaking to read and witness. Most importantly, it is still relevant today! (And unfortunately goes ignored). Please check out what he has posted so far, and keep checking back regularly for more updates!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Comic Sales & Highlights

Two classics were recently sold over and Ebay, making milestones for Showcase #4 and Journey Into Mystery #83.

“Mark Zaid of and are reporting the sale of a CGC-certified NM- 9.2 copy of Showcase #4 featuring the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash for $100,000.” –

Showcase Flash

Meanwhile, the first appearance of Thor. . .

“. . . is autographed by Stan Lee and part of the CGC Signature Series. Graded at 6.5 by CGC, this copy of Journey Into Mystery #83 recently sold for $7,500.00 on eBay.” –

CGC Stan Lee Thor

Comics Sales Slump

In more depressing news, comic sales are continuously slipping. As ICv2 reports,

“Sales of the Top 300 graphic novels through Diamond Comic Distributors in March were down a substantial 18.6%, while sales of the Top 300 periodical comics fell 4.28%. Combined sales of the Top 300 Graphic Novels and Comics in March were off by 7.58%.”

Despite the drop, the 15 comics from March 2011 keep us hopeful with quantities sold being the last set of numbers in the list below. If you’d like to see the top 300, just click here.

1. FF#1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 114,472
2. Green Lantern #64 – $2.99 – DC – 76,898
3. Green Lantern #63 – $2.99 – DC – 75,632
4. Batman: The Dark Knight – $2.99 – DC – 71,108
5. Brightest Day #21 – $2.99 – DC – 70,204
6. Brightest Day #22 – $2.99 – DC – 69,824
7. Batman Incorporated #3 – $2.99 – DC – 66,772
8. Avengers #11 – $3.99 – Marvel – 66,618
9. Batman Incorporated #4 – $2.99 – DC – 65,315
10. Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 62,714
11. Kick-Ass 2 #2 – $2.99 – Marvel – 62,235
12. Green Lantern Corps #58 – $2.99 – DC – 60,100
13. New Avengers #10 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,929
14. Batman and Robin #21 – $2.99 – DC – 59,818
15. Amazing Spider-Man #656 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,626

And to think that in the 90’s comics were selling by the millions. These numbers reflect North America, by the by. *Sigh*

***UPDATE 5/13***

Here’s the official sales numbers for Marvel over at ComicsBeat.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays: X-Men – God Loves, Man Kills

The first Friday of each month, I will review a classic comic from my own personal collection.

God Loves Man Kills

I’ve been doing something a bit different with these past few CCF reviews. To keep that going, and to celebrate its release on trade paperback earlier last month, comes Marvel Graphic Novel #5: X-Men – God Loves, Man Kills. I really wanted to speak about it because of it’s overall message.

The story is a turning point in the world of the X-Men. It’s probably one of the most in-your-face stories without trying to hide behind some super villain like Magneto, or huge robots like the Sentinels. This is a story which is very plausible. The results are anything less than astounding.

X-Men God Loves Man Kills

Marvel Graphic Novel #5: X-Men – God Loves, Man Kills (December, 1982)
Chris Claremont (writer), Brent Anderson (pencils, inks, cover), Steve Oliff (colours), Tom Orzechowski (letterer). $5.95

I’m sure you’ve heard of William Stryker. You remember the main villain in the movie X2: X-Men United – the one guilty for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton? The one guilty for the Weapon X project? Well this is where Stryker first appeared. But he was nothing of what he was in the movie.

Here, in God Loves, Man Kills (GLMK), William Stryker is a reverend, and we see early in the story that he hates mutants and wishes them all to be cleansed from the earth. In fact, he has a team of religious fanatics called the Purifiers (which you may of heard in X-stories already) who do Stryker’s mutant assassination for him. All of this is done in the name of god. Stryker believes mutants are indeed the “homo superior”, but are not “homo sapien.” Thus, they are products of the devil and must be destroyed.

Stryker’s seems nothing like how he’s portrayed in the second X-Men movie, is he? Neither is the story.

This story is blunt with its readers by contrasting humans and mutants with racial subjection. Within the story’s first few pages, a black family is killed in cold blood – not because of colour – but because the parents bore a son who was a mutant. Then the mutant son and human daughter are executed in the first two pages, then strung up on a swing set for the rest of the world to see. A sign posted on the boy reads “Muties.”

Cut to Kitty Pryde fighting a boy at Stevie Hunters dance studio. She’s fighting because the boy’s family supports Stryker’s endeavors. The boy is unaware of Kitty’s powers, so Stevie jumps in to stop the fight and tells Kitty to back down before she uses them on the boy. Despite knowing that Kitty’s a mutant, Stevie talks to Kitty to calm her down:

God Loves Man Kills

These blatant comparisons to real-life issues are what the basis of the X-Men grew to be. Lately, there have not been many comparisons between racism and mutants, but it is stories like in GLMK which bring us a wake up call by a slap to the face.

GLMK is not a story about hate upon religion. It is definitely not a spite against god, either. It is the idea of hate reaching out and becoming ever-engrossing by shielding itself behind an ideal to be justified. GLMK successfully shows us this with its story.

Stryker becomes so powerful with his rhetoric that he gets to speak at a stadium to preach his word on behalf of god. There, he faces a final showdown with the X-Men with quite a surprise twist.

That twist, too, is a perfect example of how society operates. Without spoiling it, the end recedes what Claremont built up in the entire story. In a way, GLMK becomes a story of Good versus Evil versus Good. It implies the analogy of grass being green on the other side and shows that there is still a continuous loop to what is defined as both good and evil.

I cannot talk about the moral of the story without mention of Brent Anderson’s moody pages. As a graphic novel, these stories get a lot more attention to than regular comic books. It shows.

Immense time and effort was placed into crafting a grim story amongst a fearful backdrop of hate and despair. Anderson successfully hits every mood with every turn of the page. Even when the climactic ending comes into play, the positive feeling the reader should get with the falling action is narrowed by Anderson’s art. As both the drawer and inker, Anderson has no boundaries to how he makes wonderful sketches seem downright terrifying.

Steve Oliff’s colours hit the mark. Rarely are pages splashed with colours to give any sort of hope to the mutants. Even on a sunny day, Oliff works the panels to still suggest danger afoot. Even with the image above between Stevie and Kitty, Oliff’s use with white, red and black tones really separate the different feels in each panel.

GLMK is a phenomenal story which I would suggest is deeply prevalent, even today. With the recent reactions and discussions from the public on the death of Osama bin Laden, it is somewhat frightening that thirty years later, GLMK could still a possible and harsh reality.

A story that never stops teaching is a story always worth reading.

Grade: 8/10

As a side note: I went to the midnight viewing of Thor. I would definitely say it was the most accurate portrayal of a Marvel character, and I was quite happy with the film. It is certainly worth seeing a few times. Tons of love and screen time was given to Sif and the Warrior’s Three – which is something I was not expecting. There’s also tons of little tidbits added into the film for Marvel fans to enjoy – so stay sharp!

Don’t forget to stay after the credits.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

FanExpo Comic Guest List Announced! CGC Stuff, Too!

Being from Southern Ontario, it’s not often that comic conventions come out our way. However, one annual convention called Fan Expo comes to Toronto every year and brings in some of the biggest names in the business. In a nutshell, it’s the San Diego Comic Con on a smaller scale, centered in Toronto.

It focuses on Comics, Horror, Science Fiction, Anime and Video Games. It’s quite a well-rounded event.

Last year, I was able to meet my childhood hero, Stan Lee. Olivier Copiel, Gary Frank, Leonard Kirk, and Steve McNiven, to name a few, all made their appearances too. The year before that, I was lucky enough to meet Joe Quesada. This years list is beyond impressive:

JEFF SMITH (artist/creator – BONE)

JOE KUBERT (Legendary Artist)



























DOUG SNEYD (Legendary Playboy cartoonist)

Of course, there’s even more!

Kei Acedara
Attila Adorjany
Sam Agro
Adrian Alphona
Kalman Andrasofszky
Andy Belanger
J. Bone
Kent Burles
C.B. Cebulski
Scott Chantler
Bobby Chiu
Michael Cho
Charlene Chua
Aaron Costain
Wes Craig
David J. Cutler
Willow Dawson
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Valentine DeLandro
Anthony Del Col
Michael Del Mundo
Jason Edmiston
Nick Evans
Ray Fawkes
W. Scott Forbes
Mike Gagnon
Agnes Garbowska
Holly Halftone
Clayton Hanmer
Scott Hepburn
Greg Hyland
Raffaelle Ienco
Jesse Jacobs
Eric Kim
Leonard Kirk
Shane Kirshenblatt
Scott Kowalchuk
Annie Koyama
Drazen Kozjan
Jessie Lam
Marvin Law
Alvin Lee
Kurt Lehner
Leo Leibelman
Nimit Malavia
Steven Charles Manale
Steve Mannion
Marvin Mariano
Nick Marinkovich
John Martz
Richard Maurizio
Conor McCreery
Brian McLachlan
Kagan McLeod
Diana McNally
Alex Milne
Vicki Nerino
Richard Pace
Dan Parent
Ramon K. Perez
Alex Perkins
Nick Postic
Gibson Quarter
Peter Repovski
Ethan Rilly
Benjamin Rivers
Hugh Rookwood
Dave Ross
Riley Rossmo
Salgood Sam
K.T. Smith
Fiona Smyth
Steve Sprayson
Diana Tamblyn
Ty Templeton
Kelly Tindall
Marcus To
J. Torres
James Turner
Alina Urusov
Eric Vedder
Joe Vriens
Tigh Walker
Ken Wheaton
Kurtis Wiebe
Britt Wilson
Steve Wolfhard
Howard Wong
Tory Woollcott
Craig Yeung
Richard Zajac
Jim Zubkavich

Publishes and Studios:

DC Comics
Marvel Comics
Image Comics
Archie Comics
Udon Entertainment
DK Canada
Koyama Press
Imaginism Studios
Transmission-X (TX Comics)

Check out more updates as they come along on FanExpo’s Website.

I’m very excited for Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Matt Fraction, Steve McNiven, Marko Djurdjevic, Alex Maleev, Oliver Coipel, Dale Keown, Steve Epting, Jimmy Cheung, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leonard Kirk, and Tony Moore.

It’s going to be a blast!

In other news, CGC Comics just announced that they’ve reached a milestone with 100,000 Signature Series books being certified through them.

“All collectibles certified with the prestigious CGC Signature Series label have been signed in the presence of a CGC representative, and are then submitted for CGC certification. CGC authenticates the signatures and indicates all pertinent information on the prestigious CGC Signature Series label. The Signature Series label includes security features such as an official hologram seal and a unique serial number. The item is then graded and encapsulated in CGC’s patented, tamper-evident holder, to become a treasured part of a collection. Thanks to CGC Signature Series, collectors know their signed items bear the seal of the most-trusted name in collecting.”

I’m proud to be part of that 100,000 with my copy of X-Men #15 signed by Stan Lee. (Who knows why I’m proud – I just am.)

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Reviews: New Mutants #24

Hey folks. My power has been out for a few days due to a storm, so I haven’t been able to respond to any replies or update the site at all since Thursday.

Just hang in there!

New Mutants

New Mutants #24
Mike Carey (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Brian Reber (colours), Joe Caramanga (letters), Mico Suayan & Marte Gracia (cover). $2.99

The triumphant conclusion to the Age of X concludes in New Mutants #24, leaving with both desirable and undesirable results.

Spanning multiple issues, the Age of X began as a huge mystery for readers. The question, “What is the Age of X?” sprawled over comics for months prepping this event. As the story unfolded, readers began gathering pieces of what kind of world our favourite mutants were living in. Rogue looked like the main character to the story with Magneto as a potential villain and savior. Mutants were in disarray fighting a human army who were relentless on letting mutants stay alive. In the last two chapters, things started falling apart and we see Legion and Xavier as main characters, with Moira MacTaggert as an extension of Legion’s mind and being the true villain.

With a shift in characters from Rouge to Legion, instantaneously it throws readers for a loop. Not only was it a shocker to find that the Age of X is all Legion’s doing, but it is a shocker to see how characters completely disappeared with their importance in the story. By this last issue, Legion fights himself with Xavier by his side, while the inevitable Wolverine-getting-his-powers-back-moment finally arrived. A final brawl between humans and mutants leaves the conclusion to the story even more confusing. However, the ending does have some positive notes to it.

Firstly, most of the mutants still retain their memories from the Age of X. With Cyclops and Frenzy’s relationship in the AoX “universe,” they share a kiss in front of Emma Frost back on Utopia. I definitely sense some exciting problems in the future.

Secondly, some de-powered mutants are back! Most importantly a favourite of mine, Chamber!

But alas, this only comes with confusing pitfalls. If Chamber was de-powered in real life, but was in the AoX with powers, when he returned he got his powers back in the real universe. That makes sense to me. However, since Cannonball died in the Age of X (as he did in this issue), is he alive now? It’s inconsistencies like this which throw me for a loop. Also, why was Chamber in the AoX if he was not on Utopia to begin with? What about the Age of X Universe? If it all was in Legion’s head, how do other players fit into this? Obvious continuity issues plague the Age of X leaving me to wonder if the story was as well thought out as it seemed.

On a more positive note, Steve Kurth it a pretty good job on the artwork in the battles. Great detail and spreads made the action very intense, leaving much to the imagination on the chaos the battle raged. Kurth had some issues with individuals doing some awkward faces or postures. On the second page, the running mutant army is making all sorts of odd stances, while on the Cyclops/Frenzy revelation page, Frenzy is making the weirdest contortions, and Emma Frost has quite the mannish face. Little things like these make the battles look awesome, but the serious moments seem silly.

The Age of X definitely has shaken up the X-Men’s universe. I just wish it was done a lot better.

Grade: 5/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!