COC Spotlight: Ringside #1, That Ring of Fire

For this week’s COC Spotlight we will be taking a look at Ringside #1 from Image Comics.

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Ohhhh yeahhhhhh

This issue and series was created by writer Joe Keatinge and artist Nick Barber. Simon Gouge provided the coloring while Ariana Maher is on letters.

As an 80’s child I grew up with a healthy dose of WWF and WCW(yes I said WWF and I meant it). I grew up in the heyday of Rowdy Roddy Piper(RIP), Hulk Hogan, Macho Man(RIP), and Jake the Snake(still love you Jake). And if you’re like me then I think Ringside is for you.

Here’s the deal. This book doesn’t really show a ton of the in ring stuff, but it will show you all of the ins and outs of the wrestling business, and the reality that our favorite stars went through. And it is damn enjoyable and pretty to look at.

The first issue introduces us readers to an assortment of characters like a retired former wrestling star that is distancing himself from his old persona while living in a world of shit, his old marine buddy packing an arsenal, as well as a young up and coming wrestler and his older veteran wrestling mentor.

All of this is illustrated by Barber’s gritty lines that show a harsh world that doesn’t show on the screen during major wrestling events. He captures all of the real world life that we have seen as we lose our heroes or see what they have suffered to bring their characters to life.

The art and writing respectfully show the world behind the curtain of an entertainment industry that is often criticized for being fake. However, as many fans know and what non-wrestling fans may find out is that these ring heroes put themselves through physical abuse and hell often to wind up broke yet forever tied to the business.

Danny Knossos, the Minotaur, can’t escape his larger than life character even though he wants nothing to do with it. Reynolds is trying to make his name and wrestling career, but last minute changes are screwing him over. The reality is hard when all the glitz and glimmer is stripped away, but characters like Reynolds shows the love of the entertainment.

This was a fantastic issue and ideally enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed Keatinge’s writing on Glory, Hell Yeah!, and Shutter and this looks to be anptjernfine addition to his resumé. The art team of Barber and Gough provide visuals that are a bit darker than the over the top visuals of wrestling. Finally, the letters by Mayer allow readers to easily follow the story.

On top of the story is some wonderful supplemental material in the form of an interview with Keatinge and Barber from wrestling correspondent, Danielle Matheson. Here, readers are able to see that this series comes from a place of love that many an 80’s wrestling fan can relate to. I mean, if they creators are like me, I’m sure they can still gyrate like Ravishing Rick Rude.

This interview is one of my favorite parts as it shows how and why this series came about and what readers can look forward to. Just as there are many colorful, larger than life varieties of characters, there will be many other characters showcased in this series. And the overall goal will be to show the life inside and outside the ring, which our wrestling heroes live. It’s and interesting angle and I’m all in.

This series can be loved by people who are fans and those that are not fans of professional wrestling. This comic like professional wrestling is about the business of entertainment and parallels can be drawn between this and any other entertainment industry.

Bottom line pick this series up. The creative team is putting out an outstanding series that will entertain all people like the glory days of professional wrestling. So seriously pick this up. Cause Comic Book Oddball says so! Can you smell-el-el-el-el what this book’s got cookin!

COC Spotlight: Where is Jake Ellis? No really, where is he?

Welcome back to a brand new year and a brand new COC. Today I will be looking at Where Is Jake Ellis issue 5.

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This issue is brought to you by Nathan Edmondson as well as Tonci Zonjic and Jordan Gibson handling art duties. This 5 issue mini is the follow up to Who Is Jake Ellis, which was also previously put out by Image Comics.

In the first series, readers followed the adventures of a CIA analyst named Jon Moore. He was on the run from a shady Jason Bourne style organization. He manages to survive in no small part thanks to a voice and ghostly presence in his head named Jake Ellis.

Throughout both series, both characters have struggled to stay ahead of those hunting them and survive. The writing has managed to keep readers on edge while also providing some great action.

The ending to Where Is Jake Ellis 5 brings the story full circle in regards to the relationship between Jon and Jake. It also leaves things in a spot where the creative team could come back and tell more stories in this world that blends the gritty real world with some sci-fi supernatural elements.

Meanwhile the art and this series has been able to provide that real world gritty feel and show the weight of the main characters’ situation. There are times where the atmosphere is really rendered heavy and more intense by the art and coloring combo.

I will be interested to see if there are any future announcements from Image and the creative team regarding a new series set in the Jake Ellis series.

Diversity Spotlight: #AAIronFist

For this week, I decided to take a step into the current climate of comics and shine a light on one of my favorite comic characters.

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There has been a recent call for diversity in the Marvel cinematic universe and a push to cast an Asian-American as the lead in Iron Fist.

In comics, Danny Rand is a blond-haired, blue-eyed caucasian male, who is trained in martial arts in a mystical city and obtains the ability to focus his chi into a fist unto iron. At this point he turns down immortality in order to satiate his thirst for revenge.

As a white male, I actually have no problem with changing Danny’s ethnicity. I will admit that my preference is for Iron Fist to remain a white male mainly due to his relationship to Luke Cage, which I think is important with the current racial issues in our country.

However, I believe there is a need for more roles for Asian-Americans and am glad that reports were that casting met with Asian-American actors for the lead. My hope at this point is that the people in charge don’t let an actor’s ethnicity eliminate them from contention if they’re best suited for the role.

The biggest reason I think this role is important to Asian-Americans is due to the recent white washing of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. At this point, changing Danny’s ethnicity might be a nice way to apologize for that.

At the end of the day I love Iron Fist. I am fully behind an Asian-American Danny and will devour the show when it’s released. If they cast a white Danny, I will do the same. The fate of Iron Fist is in the hands of Marvel casting either way and I accept that.

But I will say that if they cast a white Danny, then they damn well better work Davos into the storyline and cast an Asian-American in the role. We have seen that the Netflix series have crafted compelling villains that are as compelling as the heroes. As a result, this could really be a break out role for any actor.

If it were me writing the story, I would harken back to the revenge driven Danny Rand and make sure the viewer honestly isn’t sure whether Danny or Davos is more sympathetic. I feel this would be a new take that could make for more interesting storytelling. Just because he’s the antagonist, doesn’t mean he has to be evil.

One last reason that it would be great to have an Asian-American Iron Fist is that this is a different medium and the creators shouldn’t be beholden to the comics other than to honor the core of the character. Nail the characterization and the main character not being white should be no big deal to any fan.

I have years worth of excellent comics and in 2016 I will be reading a new Power Man and Iron Fist comic (my favorite comic book duo). For the fans who want a white Danny, you can pick up the book. The rest of us can enjoy an Asian-American Iron Fist on Netflix. The adventures of white Danny can also be seen on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which my daughters are loving.

If you agree or disagree, feel free to leave a comment, but I also urge you to leave your reasons. I think 2016 will be a good time to add more diversity to a line that is growing in popularity. I feel confident in Marvel’s casting that if they cast an Asian-American for Iron Fist, that it will be the right choice.

Happy New Year and may all your fists be like unto a thing of iron.