COC Spotlight: Do We Really Have to Leave Megalopolis

Maybe the title of this Creator-Owned Comics Spotlight should be Leaving Me Wanting More.

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After a recent move, I have been looking for a new comic book store to call home. While trying out a couple of different locations, I found Leaving Megalopolis on the shelf. This great book is written by Gail Simone with art by Jim Calafiore. Colors were provided by Jason Wright and the letterer is Dave Sharpe.

The truth is I had missed the boat on this book because I hadn’t been familiar with Kickstarter at the time this book was crowd funded. For those of you not in the know like I was, Kickstarter allows various creators to help get funding from the public (crowd funding right) to help on production costs for their work.

I had heard about this book after the fact on various podcasts, but the opportunity didn’t arise to get my greedy hands on it until I stumbled on it in this shop. And man it was worth every penny.

Like just about everyone else, I really enjoyed Simone and Calafiore’s run on the Secret Six from DC. Watching these two collaborate on any project is like watching your favorite band throw a reunion tour. It scratches that itch you have and is certainly a performance to remember.

What can I say about this story? It is a wonderful look at what humans will do to survive in a war zone. For the citizens of Megalopolis, the end times are nigh and they are living in an apocalyptic setting.

And what of the dangers lying around every corner? These poor souls aren’t faced with slow moving zombies or a super rabies virus. Instead they are at odds with their former superhuman protectors who once made Megalopolis the world’s safest city.

Super speed death attacks, scooped up by flyers and given the swan dive of doom, and super strength feats of killing are the norm for those stuck in the city.

The creative team wastes no time showing us the destruction in Megalopolis as well as the dangers thatvawait our main characters. The focal point of the story is Mina, who becomes the leader of a group of survivors even though she seems reluctant.

She tries to come off as rough and uncaring but her icy exterior melts as she looks to protect a battered teenager and picks up other survivors along the way. The story also flashes back to Mina’s backstory to show how she became the type of person who distances her self from others and the many hard times she has faced in her life up to and including the current crisis in the city.

The writing and art in this story do an amazing job of showing how people struggle to survive in a city gone mad. It draws us in with concern for our main characters and shows how they come together as a group in order to survive. However, it also effectively uses the story and pages to show another group. While this group did manage to come together, the methods they employ for survival are a stark contrast to our main group a highlight the heart these characters truly have.

Thanks to the efforts of Simone and Calafiore, this story has great world building without losing any focus on character building. The visuals are stunning as the designs for the super-heroes are really cool and distinct.

But what would the art look like without the colorist or the script be without the letterer. The art and designs really are complemented by the colors used by Jason Wright. His use of earthier colors and tones in the flashback sequences to Mina’s past are provide a nice contrast to the colors employed in the city scenes. And the city absolutely looks like a war zone from the darker hues that seem to permeate through the current day events down to the details of the dirt and grime all over the devastation.

Dave Sharpe also does a tremendous job with his well placed lettering. The word balloons and caption boxes are easy to follow and never diminish the art. He also shows his chops in sections where the lettering is a call back to the style we see on the front of covers or in intro pages to comics we are all familiar with.

In closing, this book has a fantastic journey with a real poignant ending that really needs to be read. There is also a great 14 page story at the end this time with the whole team minus Gail Simone further expanding on this world. In short I would love to visit Megalopolis again with this creative team, though it probably wouldn’t be a good time to live there.

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COC Spotlight: Bloodstrike, Covenant, and a Detachable Penis.COC Spotlight Now with Twice as Much COC

Hot on the heals of my origin story (and in its honor), I gift to you twice the comic book offerings than usual. That’s right it’s SDCC week, and with the big show comes a bigger COC than usual.

As I shared last week, I am a big fan of Rob Liefeld’s work since Brigade issue 2 cemented my fandom for comic books. That of course had the unintentional effect of making my wife despise the man. Just kidding. She thinks the amount of energy he has and enthusiasm is awesomely ridiculous.

On to the meat of this week’s spotlight. This week Image released two works from Liefeld in Bloodstrike #1 and Covenant #2.

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Cover by Rob Liefeld

What can I say about Covenant other than I was not initially interested in a bible based story when issue 1 was solicited. However, after reading some interviews with its creator, I realized this would be more of a heist story. And what has been stolen? None other than the Ark of the Covenant and since I grew up on a steady diet of Indiana Jones, why not give it a shot.

After two issues, I’m glad I have this book a chance and can see what Rob means when he says that the bible characters are like the original superheroes. It also doesn’t hurt that the creative team on this book are doing tremendous work together.

As I mentioned this is a Liefeld book. Rob is listed as the creator and writer in the credits and has done a really good job establishing the protagonist, Samuel. Despite 9 years of Catholic schooling and a healthy dose of church going, I wasn’t at all familiar with this character. This book on the other hand has provided me solid insight into who he is and his motivations.

Now let’s get to the art. Who is Matt Horak? To be honest, going into this I knew Horak about as well as I knew the character of Samuel. But like That character, I am greatly enjoying Matt’s story (see what I did there).  The action is really well done and I have had no problem following the story. Characters are expressive and there is a great scene that shows the power of the Ark. He aslo knocked a scene out of the park of a feverish older character Eli where the details on his sweat soaked face were incredible.

All in all both writing and art have improved from the first issue. Both were very good last time around but there is less need for expository set up and Horak seems like he is the type of artist that will continue to improve with each page. Keep your eyes out for his name in the future.

The final members of the creative team are Chris Eliopolous on letters and Jeremy Colwell on colors. Both of these guys help to make this a very good looking finished product. The coloring enhances the art and really makes certain scenes look incredible (again check out that Ark scene). And the lettering is clear and for my money Chris Eliopolous is one of the best and really helps add to the emotion on the page when necessary. His sound effects look great as well.

This team is working perfectly together and have really sold me on continuing to pick up a book I was initially going to pass on. This is another reason I am excited that Colwell and Eliopolous are back with Liefeld on our next book.

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I snagged this amazing Dan Fraga cover

My dear reader, make no mistake when I say that Bloodstrike was preordered without hesitation. A book about soldiers continuously brought back from the dead written and drawn by Rob Liefeld? Yes please. The book that is leading up to the Brigade relaunch that was funded by Kickstarter? Try and stop me from getting it. No really. Try.

As I mentioned I like the man’s work. And this story has him taking it to a place that I haven’t often seen. This book is graphically violent, has curse words and some nudity here and there. Finally the fact that this issue has a COC Spotlight is completely fitting. If you’ve read it you know.

This issue starts off with the character of Operative Alpha chained to the wall with his intestines dripping out (all right just half of him is chained to the wall). Right off the bat this is a fun new take on these reanimated soldiers and the trouble they find themselves in while clueing new readers in on what this series is about. Alpha has already been killed a few times and resurrected by Project Born Again. However without the Project finding Alpha who is on an off the books mission there won’t be any regeneration.

This issue starts off in the blood soaked present with Alpha doing his best to free himself from his current predicament, but how did he get there. Liefeld then flashes the story back to 15 hours earlier where Alpha or “JT” as he is referred to by the villain, is on a lone mission infiltrating a stronghold while slicing and dicing his way to his objective.

This issue is action packed and shows how Rob Liefeld has a tight grasp on keeping the action fluid. And what about the reveal from the villain that this Bloodstrike operative’s initials are JT while having some previous relationship to the villain, Tragedy Ann.

Interestingly enough, the solicits mention Alpha as a mystery man character from Extreme’s past who is new to the program and the story reveals a connection to Tragedy Ann who bears quite the resemblance to Vogue of Youngblood. Drop me a line of you think you know Alpha’s identity based on this info.

Bloodstrike 1 was a fun ride as we see some old favorites like Bloodwulf, and some other characters from the Bloodstrike of old who have some really cool designs. Fans of old will love to see these old faces.

There’s also a bit of male on female and female on male violence in this issue, which warrants the mature label. However, I have never seen Bloodstrike as a group of “good guys.” These are mercenaries working for a paycheck so their morals aren’t always in the right place.

Mixed in with the violence is also some dark humor which works well in the framework of the story. The best example is during a scene where a character from the team is regenerated and Liefeld presents a neat visual right before a funny reference to a popular children’s toy. Honestly, the visual, dialogue, and distress I would feel as a man made me laugh. And a bit uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, I can’t recommend this enough providing you have the stomach for a book that isn’t about shiny heroes. If you can handle the uncomfortable scenes you have to give it a shot.

This book is about protagonists that aren’t very nice, a ruthless villain who is intelligent and powerful, and an epilogue that sets up another formidable female adversary looking to bring Bloodstrike down.

If this is the direction Rob wants to take his Extreme books in leading up to the Brigade relaunch, I am really going to enjoy the ride as I suspect other fans of his work will as well.

Does this issue take risks? Yes. Will it possibly alienate some readers who shy away from graphic violence, language and morally suspect actions from the characters we are reading? You bet it could. But I have come to expect nothing less from Image and this book is from one of the guy’s who started it.

For me, I enjoy this and feel it is in a similar vein to the movie Shoot Em’ Up or John Wick. Unstoppable characters are coming together for epic action. Brigade can’t get here fast enough and this is an amazing lead up.

I urge you to check it out, but if you’re on the fence, check back here where we will be covering each issue in a spotlight for the first arc.

You can also look forward to other spotlight’s as we will be looking at Leaving Megalopolis for our next installment by the talented team of Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore.

My Origin Story – Bitten by a Radioactive Comic Book

Today I thought would be a fun exercise in sharing my origin story with you comic book loving world.

My story starts out when I could barely even read (at least more than a few weeks ago) and on trips to one of my mother’s doctors. It may have been a general doctor or a chiropractor, but that’s not as important as the result.

Within the office was a Green Lantern comic that the doctor would let me keep when he saw how it was the only thing in the office I was interested in. I don’t know the issue number as the issue had been read to pieces years ago. I do know that it starred Hal Jordan (to this day my favorite GL), referenced a power battery exploding in Guy Gardner’s face, and had a back up featuring the Golden Age Sandman in full gas mask glory.

On a personal note if anyone knows the issue in question feel free to drop me a line.

This was one of my first experiences with comic books. Years later I recall seeing an HBO special (you know the series with an episode of Ben Affleck on steroids). This one in particular was about a boy named Joey DiPaolo who had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion.

While I had no idea in 1992 what HIV was, my young self learned about it and the main character, Joey, and the way he and his friends looked up to a blind superhero called Daredevil. This was around the time that I started getting into the X-Men as well, when my older brother and I would ride our bikes down to the local hobby shop to pick up comics.

As you can see, slowly but surely I was being pulled deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole as I discovered these characters across multiple media. The final push would come in the summer of my 3rd grade year.

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This is the issue that sealed it

A friend of my older brother was visiting from out of state that summer. One day he came home with an issue titled Brigade, which I had never heard of. What’s more it was from a publisher called Image and its creator, Rob Liefeld, who I had previously seen on X-Force.

But man, this issue was something else for my young self. I would sneak in and read the issue when my brother and his friend were out until I managed to get my own copy. The issue was something I had not seen before. Insane action and a scene where Seahawk, the character on the cover of issue 2, impaled his helmet through his opponent. His fricking helmet!

I didn’t see this in the other comics I was getting and it sucked me in completely. All my allowance went toward picking up issues of Brigade in multiple comic pack from the CVS, Toys R’ Us and my local comic shop.

It’s 22 years later and I still love comics. I love Image and the indie publishers and artists out there. Ok maybe I wasn’t bitten by a radioactive comic, but a chrome covered one captured my imagination.

I thought this post would be a bit fun in preparation for this week. It’s SDCC and while I still haven’t made it out to that comic book mecca, I will be heading to the comic shop and picking up a new issue of Bloodstrike from Rob Liefeld and Image.

You can look forward to a new COC this week. For those of you who made it out to SDCC, enjoy it, soak it in. For those of you like me, at least it’s new comic book day tomorrow. And we can all enjoy that.

P.S. I do still have Brigade issue 2 and I still love it.

COC Spotlight: Wynter Cometh

What better way to celebrate the Independence Day weekend than by reading an indie comic book. Today we will be looking at a COC from New Worlds Comics. Wynter 1 was written by Guy Hasson and the art chores were handled by Aron Elekes.

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Liz may not be special but her story is

This is a fun one for me as I have been watching a fair bit of Doctor Who lately and this scratches my sci-fi itch.

The tag line on the cover is “Meet Liz Wynter…She’s No One Special.” This line brings up one of the cool philosophical questions that seem to be at the root of the story. And this is a very cerebral story.

Guy does an excellent job of world-building in this issue as we learn about the world Liz lives in and what makes her “No One Special.” This is set in a dystopian future where everyone including Liz have their own personal computer in their heads to remind them they will never be special.

This tale is of a humanity that has expanded across galaxies and colonized planets. The reason Liz is not special is because her DNA combinations have been expressed numerous times on numerous worlds and it is all catalogues and recorded down to her thoughts.

Did I mention this is scratching that love of sci-fi? This is a killer concept that Guy Hasson has come up with asking us the question “What if every thought you had was already thought by countless others?”

There are also neat tricks like the people in this story being given a percent of how attracted someone is to them by their onboard computer. Much like the smart phones of today, the characters in this story have apps for their personal systems and this is what sets up our key mystery and a cliffhanger ending.

This book has pulled me in with the story and some parallels to our own modern times which is always a hallmark of great sci-fi stories. That being said, what is a comic without art?

I have never seen Aron Elekes’s art before but it really creates the mood of the story. While I am no art expert, it seems to me that his art has a painterly quality to it. The characters are often expressive and sell the general feeling of the story and the lack of hope Liz feels at times.

The world itself when glimpsed around our main characters is futuristic while at the same time striking a balance of the familiar. This future is played as if most of the characters believe it is a utopia except for mentions of the teenaged residents wanting to rebel against it. This mention is handled cleverly in story by a commercial from a familiar face.

There is a second photo referenced character that made me laugh toward the end of the issue as it seemed very fitting to the protagonist’s situation.

The coloring and lighting which I believe was also handled by Mr. Elekes is really handled well throughout the story. I don’t know of it was his intention, but the environment shown is Orwellian to me. It is actually how I would see 1984 in my own head.

At times this world seems sterile and wrong despite the underlying idea thatbot is part of an expanding empire. There were times throughout the story where the lighting and coloring had me convinced something truly evil was going on behind the scenes.

This story pulled me right in and I will be interested to see what comes next. I recommend this for any fan of hard sci-fi with a bit of mystery sewn into the story. You can find Wynter issues 1 through 4 on Comixology so stop on by and give this series a shot.

COC Spotlight: What’s the Scam Part 2

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Characters and Creators

Welcome back to the second part of our spotlight on Joe Mulvey’s Scam, which was released through Comixtribe. In this section we will be focusing on some stories from the Scamthology collection part of the book. All creators even of stories not spotlighted will be listed at the end.

The first story we look at features Midas in a story called Withdrawal Symptoms. This story is written by Jamie Gambell with art and colors by Daniel Picciotto and Miguel Marques respectively. We start with a little backstory as Midas is paying for the mistakes of family and intends to pull a bank robbery to clear some debt.

This story paints Midas as a decent man who uses his ability to render objects invisible to thwart other bank robbers and decide what course his life will take. There are a few short stories in this collection that make Midas a very fleshed out and likable character in addition to this one.

The next character to get a spotlight is Hack in a story called The Nut Job written by Tyler James. The art is handled by Wil Robson with Dessi Cakra on colors.

This is a clever story where Hack who is shown in Scam as a bit paranoid and neurotic at times is in a therapy session. The art shows off Hack’s supervision powers to great effect while also providing a clever way to show how resourceful the crew is in coming up with scams.

The next short story to look at is a fun take on the Scam Universe in A Scam Fairy Tale written by Amy Chu. The art to the opening and ending is provided by Joe Mulvey as Pint, Michelle and Tru walk in and convince their bartender friend to tell his niece and nephew a story.

What happens next is art by the talented Charles Paul Wilson III of Stuff of Legends fame and his plushy style telling of Red Riding Hood and her battle with a very Crosswords looking big bad wolf. Hilarity ensues and there is a great use of craft beer in the story.

This is a fun story and the whole team knocks it out of the park. Ryan Lee colors over Mulvey while CP Wilson colors his own work to differentiate the two stories nicely. The lettering is also expertly handled by Marshall Dillon to great and interesting effect.

The final story to spotlight is the wonderful My Name is Pint written by Josh Flanagan with art by Doug Hills and colors by Hugo Froes.

This story centers on the character of Pint who usually brings the humor. If I’m honest, this is my favorite character and story as it reminds me of my college years. I would dive into my drinks like a swimming pool without fear thanks to my immortality. This story serves to remind me of my actual lack of immortality and my achey liver.

The set-up is brilliant as Flanagan pits a character with alcohol fueled strength in the contradictory setting of an AA meeting. The art is wonderful and shows the character and his thoughts.

I don’t want to spoil the ending since it is so wonderfully done and shows how the person we con most is ourselves.

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List of Scamthology Creators

This will be it for our COC spotlight on Scam. I hope you enjoyed the experience and I will be touching back with Comixtribe in the future. I also have my eye out for Mulvey’s Couter Terror release through that publisher which looks incredibly interesting.

Join us next installment where I will be looking at Wynter issue 1 from New Worlds Comics.