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Powerless: Parks and Wreck

Powerless

For every super fight, there is a city. For every awesome altercation, there is destruction, and largely comic book films have only just begun addressing the fact that heroes like to break stuff. The good guys win and the bad guys get sent away to Arkham or some frightening super-max designed specifically for villain shenanigans. But the aftermath is always, almost the same. Powerless deals with the aftermath and the prevention of each violent event. Luckily, Wayne Securities is tasked with the burden of helping regular people deal with their weird, violent world.

Epi-Pens and plagiarism

This series takes place in the fictionalized Charm City, which is apparently the brighter, more colorful neighbor of Gotham. Day to day, Charm City is bombarded by villains and heroes come to save the day. Of course after a while, any person will get jaded when they have to live in constant fear of city level destruction. So as Emily, played by Vanessa Hudgens, watches in awe as her morning commute is disturbed by a massive fight, other citizens just try their best to ignore it. At work, it’s revealed that Emily is tasked with helping motivate the staff of the strangely start-up like Wayne Securities.

The company’s hugest accomplishment was the creation of the Joker gas epi-pen, but ever since that, Wayne Securities has been coasting and just choose to rip off Lex Corp. It’s a funny premise and the topic of people dealing with super hero destruction is unique. However, that doesn’t mean the series is wholly original.

Powerless

Powerless

Old Familiar Places

It’s not far-fetched to say that Powerless follows sitcom formulas quite closely. The cast is made up of familiar faces like Danny Pudi and Alan Tudyk, both of which bring their bubbly charms in spades. Vanessa Hudgens plays the quirky bright eyed, small town girl quite well but this is where the series kind of falls into same-y territory. There are inspirations taken from a number of other comedy shows like Parks and Rec, along with other series that feature quirky characters and goofy office shenanigans. At the same time, Powerless also leans heavily on wink and nod humor in its references to the DC universe at large.

DC's Powerless

DC’s Powerless

The Staying Power

At the end of the day, Powerless is an inoffensive sitcom with a lot of comic book references and a bit of potential. The first episode has just come out and a lot of other shows only find their stride after a few more episodes. It’s a fun watch and only the future will tell whether or not this show will get a bit cleverer. Try it out, because there are a few funny gags in its half hour run time and its closest rival, Marvel’s Damage Control, won’t be out for a bit longer.




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Marvel’s Agent Carter: A Heroine in the making

Captain America is probably the most iconic superhero next to Iron Man, and Marvel’s move to play them against each other is a wise one. However, that doesn’t mean Cap and Iron Man don’t have long, storied histories. The First Avenger did a lot to solidify his reputation as the do-good freedom fighter with a strong sense of morality, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have any help along the way. One of the most important characters who helped him build up his confidence is Peggy Carter. In the film, she takes a secondary role, but doesn’t act passively. She isn’t just the prize, she gives Cap confidence, all the while kicking ass all on her lonesome. So, how does her run on TV fare in comparison to the movie universe?

Peggy Carter, the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A Bigger Role told in Smaller Parts
The show wouldn’t be called Agent Carter if the spotlight wasn’t thrown squarely in her direction. Taking place a few months after Steve Rogers’ death, Peggy is sent to the SSR, a secret government organization to continue her work. Here lies the twist, however, because the work she is assigned is far below her station. After helping Cap, fighting a war, and having a hand in the downfall of Hydra, Peggy becomes a glorified secretary. At the same time, Howard Stark plays a big role. Like his son after him, the weapons he creates are often sold, and because that, the US government see him as a merchant of death.

Not just a dame in a dress.

These are the main plotlines and intrigues the series unveils over its 8-episode run, and the writers give everyone justice. Instead of relying on standard story tropes, they subvert every character in one way or the other. Peggy, in particular, is a strong protagonist in that she doesn’t accept her new, secondary role in the office. At the same time, she doesn’t lash out or act irrationally in a situation where anyone who has already proven themselves, would. Peggy has to help Stark clear his name, and that means she can’t fall to the perils anger.

Forward thinking in an Older Time
One can’t help but praise the series and how it uses a few progressive themes to its advantage. However, most of them are mired in some of the old stereotypes which run perfectly with the 50’s environment. Every one of her peers thinks that because she’s a woman, she is supposed to be delegated to doing menial tasks. Peggy, after getting over the initial shock, starts using this to her advantage. In fact, many of the female characters in the series use their perceived weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

These guys start out looking bad, but you grow to like them as the series goes along.

Agent Carter is also about dealing with consequence in the wake of hard decisions. Characters like Sousa and Thompson, who are both war vets, have to deal with their situations. The former was crippled and faces discrimination because of his handicap. Thompson, on the other hand, has to deal with maintaining a war-hero facade while keeping a secret that racks him with guilt. Every character here is strongly written, but my favorite moments are when Peggy and Jarvis bounce off of each other during their conversations.

They truly do make the perfect foils for one another.

Conclusion
It stands as a testament that at the end of this series, most of the people doubting Peggy’s abilities take a 180 turn and are even awed at her ability to out-spy a spy agency. Every character has their faults and strengths which the writers consistently build on with well thought out character development. I would say that Agent Carter’s 8-episode run is its only fault, but truly, if the show ran the standard 23 episode length, the quality of the writing and the direction it took will surely have suffered. You’ll probably end up binge watching the series, and re-watching it because Agent Carter is highly addictive. Definitely watch the show when you can.

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Saga: Explicit, Violent, Sweet, Instant Classic

There’s a reason why I wasn’t that excited for the new Star Wars movie. The lightsaber didn’t surprise me, and it seems like a cool idea anyways. And sure, the general reaction to the black stormtrooper had me scratching my head, but other than that, Star Wars isn’t what defines sci-fi and space operas for me anymore. Saga does because it’s filled with the weirdest and sweetest stuff to ever grace sci-fi since Firefly and it all starts with a daughter talking about her folks.

A Comic with an Outlandish Premise
Saga is strange in many different ways. Firstly, it’s fantasy/sci-fi romp through a wide universe. Each planet is peopled by some fun races which range from adorable anthropomorphic seals to the magical folk of Wreath. The Robot Kingdom are filled with, surprise, robots, with TVs replacing their heads and with the anatomy and functionality of humans. It’s all very weird and it’s a lot to take in if you aren’t initiated with how Pulpy old school Sci-Fi can get.

But that’s just a small part of how wild and beautiful Saga is. In between bounty hunters with extendable lances, Spider/human beings armed to the teeth, and ghosts, there’s a sweet story about family and forbidden love.

Inspired by Star Wars and Flash Gordon
Now a lot of people might already draw parallels between this comic and the biggun’ which is Star Wars, and for the most part, those comparisons are right. Brian Vaughan openly admits that his inspirations for Saga fall firmly in the world of the Jedi with a little Flash Gordon splashed in for flavor. However, those lines have been drawn and both already have followings of their own. Saga is new to the game, but each page brings a treasure trove of visually striking art and lore you can really sink your teeth into. Also, The Will is cool as hell.

‘Cause you can’t do Sci-Fi without a few burns.

The Heart of an Epic Saga
If you’ve ever read any of my old reviews, then my adoration for sappy stuff should be evident. The special thing I found in Saga is its familial themes. While battling bounty hunters, combat trained grandparents, and occasionally their own cultures, Marko and Alana struggle to make ends meet. They seek shelter wherever they can while raising their little Hazel in a very violent world wired to hate her from the get go. Things can’t get any worse for this fledgling family, and yet, they make it work with a little grit and a lot of love. It also helps that between high octane action scenes are tender little moments like this.

This is Lying Cat, which calls anyone out on their lies. Lying Cat is my new favorite thing.

Conclusion
Saga is a special little gem of a comic that constantly builds on its already expansive and deep lore. I can tell that this will run for a very long time, and may even inspire some studios to adapt its weird and bright material. Give it a read if you’re a little tired of the Sci-Fi you see on the TV. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have made one helluva sweet story. Next week’s review will jump right back into Science Fiction, but it’ll be pulpier and even a bit more nostalgic than most titles.

Saga, Vol. 1 (Paperback)


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The New Year Show Round-Up

Woo! It’s been a while since we’ve updated, and that’s totally my fault. I haven’t been working the hardest in many things, and at the same time, the holidays just piled on relentlessly. So, instead of doing the single posts and reviews, I wanted to make a bunch of mini-reviews for all the wicked shows and flicks which came out this year. Also, I noticed I write about everything I love, so instead of just endless love, I’ll also mention everything which I didn’t enjoy and I’ll start off with that.

The Disappointing: Constantine

Man… I wanted to love Constantine so bad… The Hellblazer series is awesome and it comes from one of the best graphic novel writers ever to have graced the glossy page. I wanted to be surprised by Constantine; hell, I was looking forward to how the writers and creators would have worked something new into the series. Honestly, the only episode I liked was ‘A Feast of Friends’ wherein a glimmer of Constantine’s apathetic nature came out, only to be revealed as a smoke screen. He cared about his friends, and he hated doing what he did. The latter part came as a surprise because John’s just an ass in the comic. It’s unfortunate that the rest felt like a rehash. But maybe that’s just me; I’m an avid fan of the first 5 seasons of Supernatural, and honestly, Constantine plays a lot like that.

The Surprising: Gotham

Ben Mckenzie’s sense of humor is pretty spot on

I made a review about this, and I’m happy enough to admit that I was wrong. Gotham came with the premise that it existed within Batman canon. I watched it as such and I hated it for a while. That is, until I realized, this is about Gotham. It’s a place which molded one of the most beloved vigilante’s ever. In this context, the series makes much more sense. Think of it this way; while Gordon is a target for most of Batman’s villains, have you ever noticed that (with the exception of Joker) most of them don’t try to mess with him? I think Gotham’s writers are trying to build that respect for him, which is why not a lot of villains try to hurt Jim.

The Questionable Investment: Supernatural

Tada! It’s sort of paradoxical that I would mention this in a list where I cited it as a great example of supernatural-centric series. Honestly though, Supernatural hasn’t been at its prime for a while. Sure, there are some episodes from season 6 to 10 which will rip your heart out, but the tenth and final season seems underwhelming. But that’s partially due to the fact that every problem, major or otherwise, pans out exactly the same way they did the first time. Basically, this season feels like a greatest hits album, exempting episodes like Fan Fiction, and Death’s Door.

The Bromance: The Flash and The Arrow

Superman and Ba- I mean Flash and Arrow

Arrow, started out slow. It was obvious that the writers were still trying to feel out the series when the Arrow started. However, over time, the series got strong enough so that it could host many different iconic DC villains. No one could have seen that Arrow would also be the best jumping off point for a series like The Flash. Plus; this is probably the best and most dysfunctional bromance on TV since Turk and JD from Scrubs also considering House and WIlson. I’m hoping that the DC movie universe will be able to replicate Barry and Oliver’s dynamic when Dawn of Justice comes out.

The Sadness: The Colbert Report

Well at least John Oliver’s still around

I’m not mad at this series because it sucks; I’m mad because it ended…

The Most Surprising Turn Around: Korra

That rumbling in the ground, can you hear it? That is the sound of a thousand Fan Fic artists’ wishes coming true

It comes as no surprise that the writers and producers behind Avatar came up with yet another amazing little gem of a series. However, what surprised me about Korra is that it asks you to stick around when it hits its low points. As a whole, this series perfects character development in that each season brings something new. The over-arching themes in each season are complemented by the most constant underlying lesson; change is inevitable but slow. Korra grows to discover herself, along with her best friends, over many years and we get to see that growth pay out in spades. The finale also had people up in arms, but I fully support how this series grows on you if you stick with it.

The Weird: Interstellar

2014 also had Baymax

A lot of people remain on the fence about this movie and I’m count myself among them. Interstellar is probably Christopher Nolan’s most hopeful movie, but he tells the story in a very ham fisted manner. There is spectacle after spectacle as the movie goes through its epic motions, but you’ll also have to be ready for lengthy banter in between. Mathew Mcconaughey hits the nail on the head with every scene he appears in, but I ended up favoring the Monolithic AI companion Tars more than the human characters. Overall though, I’d have to say I really liked this movie. It sits alongside titles like The 5th Element and Sunshine in my collection of funky Sci-Fi flicks.

I’m probably going to make a sequel to this soon, but for now, these are the media that made 2014 the year that it was. Watch out next week for the comic which made me a lot less excited about Star Wars Ep 7. I found that it pushes a lance right through the heart of those stupid laser swords.

CONSTANTINE: Season 1 (Amazon Video)


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Gotham: The Complete First Season (Amazon Video)


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Supernatural: The Complete Tenth Season (Amazon Video)


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The Flash: The Complete First Season (Amazon Video)


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Arrow: Season 3 (Amazon Video)


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The Best of The Colbert Report (DVD)


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Legend of Korra: Book Three – Change [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)


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Interstellar (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)


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Weeky Comic Round Up: All Star Superman an Old School Super Powered Fool

Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Superman.

Superman’s a difficult character to write for. He’s omnipotent; having a huge set of powers while being almost indestructible. He’s also got his moral compass constantly pointing north. It’s hard not to find him boring because he’s the archetypical hero; strong, humble, and he stands for the American way. So why would anyone want to read All Star Superman? Well, for one reason, you’ll get to see Supes in a different light.

Everybody's working for the Weekend

Everybody’s working for the Weekend!

Dying gets to Us All

How does an omnipotent being deal with mortality? That’s the first and only question Grant Morrison wanted to pose to every fan and newbie who picked up this comic. The opening scenes of issue 1 have Superman saving a group of scientists from a ploy cooked up by Lex Luthor. Clark succeeds, as he usually does, but his reward is a super charged cancer. There is a twist to this unfortunate news though; Superman is slowly turning into pure energy, making him even more powerful than he already is.

That should make this series a lot more boring, as one of his new found powers is immunity to Kryptonite.

So, now that he’s even more super charged, what will Clark do? Well, he does what he’s good at and that’s just helping out as many people as he can. That’s the point of this whole comic, but what unfolds, if you’re willing to put up with some cheesy stuff, is truly something special.

Never Preachy, Just Hopeful

Action speaks a lot louder than words do, and Grant Morrison tries to show that off in spades. Superman’s plans in the comic don’t involve him preaching to the masses about goodness through rhetoric. Instead of finishing off his enemies, he gives them another chance like he always does. One particular arc shows him giving his more angry Kryptonian cousins mercy as they slowly die after being poisoned. In another, he gives Lois Lane every one of his powers for a period of 24 hours.

The Daily Grind

But what really got me was issue ten where he’s bombarded by hundreds of little tasks in Metropolis. He hears segments of a long conversation between a therapist and his young ward. The therapist is desperate; being delayed from his appointment by numerous problems during the day. Superman while gleaning whatever he could from the snippets of the therapist’s conversation, figures out what’s happening to the patient and does something about it. it marks a certain page in issue 10 as a real heartfelt moment in the Superman lore cannon.

The point here is that he acted rather than spoke, and when he does speak to people, it is in as few words as he can.

Rehashed, Retconned Deaths
Superman has died so many times that any event declaring his mortality can be easily shrugged off. The Death of Superman is particularly iconic, and The Dark Knight Returns also shows you an instance where he is not strong enough to give Bruce Wayne a beatdown. It’s easy to pass this comic off as another one-shot meant to give Superman mad props for being a boy scout.

Lex' Ugly Cry

Ugly cry all you want Lex

Grant Morrison doesn’t do that here. He gives future writers the ability to play around with the ending, while allowing readers to glean a sense of finality from the comic. For me, this is how I see Superman taking his final bow. Not with anger, or with preaching, nor will he spend his time inactive and afraid. He’ll just keep doing what he does, with a smile on his face and a quiet, relaxed confidence. Definitely give All Star Superman a chance if you need a feel good comic. There’s a movie out too and I actually enjoyed that ending better for the bumbling Clark Kent.

All Star Superman (Paperback)


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All-Star Superman (Amazon Video)


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Weekly Comic Round Up: Sex Criminals

I want to take a step back, think for a bit, and if you’re willing to overlook that title for a minute, then I want you to take a step back with me. Not too long ago, a bill regarding reproductive education was in the works here in the Philippines. It would have provided a more comprehensive approach towards sex, how it works, and how the youth can protect themselves while they are engaged in relations. This bill, however, didn’t completely pass because we’re a conservative country with some old school views on religion. For every Filipino kid whose have danced awkwardly around the subject of sex, I say pick up this comic if you want some answers.

The Comic: Not as dirty as you think

Now at first, I approached this comic with a bit of apprehension and doubt. From the title alone, my assumptions brought me to the conclusion that Sex Criminals was going to be soft core porn. I couldn’t have been more wrong about a comic in all my life. Sure, most of the themes in this very graphic novel are sexual in nature; there nudie scenes everywhere, but that doesn’t subtract anything from the core message of the comic. It’s just about two people finding each other, and despite their difficult pasts, falling in love in a very real way.

Oh, and it doesn’t end there either.

Approaching Awkward Themes as Gracefully as a Bull in a Sex Shop

Sex Criminals is also trying to start a conversation about the awkward teen years when you’re just learning about masturbation, how sex works, and how no one ever has a straight answer for you when you do ask. At its core, Sex Criminals is trying to address Sex in a personal and often funny way. One scene depicted Jon, the lead male character, not actually climaxing during his first sexual encounter.

Suzie is also a delight; Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky approach her coming (pun intended) of age in a realistic and none exploitative manner, and that’s rare when it comes to lead female protagonists. Oh, when both of these characters climax they freeze time, so that’s something to look forward to.

ET Junior

Letter Daddies

While the writing on its own is hilarious, heartwarming, and weird, the real gems are the so called Letter Daddies found on the last pages of the comic. Every month, folks send out hilarious anecdotes about porn in the woods, cleverly worded dick jokes, and surprisingly, a lot of people also try to discuss some very intimate issues they have about sex. Quite recently, the creators have also called upon the services of a professor who deals with sexual issues in real life. You might even learn a thing or two from the sex tips. I particularly found this piece of advice most helpful.

Special Spiderman

The Point

You know, I find a lot of important points that come up in SC. Past relationships, issues about promiscuity, orientation, and even mental health; Matt and Chip do a wonderful job of bringing these stories to light. I may paraphrase this a bit, but I think the words of Matt in one of the later issues sums up the conversation up pretty well. “Sex, like so many other things in life is a continuum of experience”.

It gets two big thumbs up from me; thumbs that go straight up the creators’ happy places.

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Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick (Paperback)


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Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop (Paperback)


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Weekly Comic Round-Up: Hawkeye

Marvel's Hawkeye

You know what sucks about being an Avenger? The only time when being an Avenger, a hero of goodness and Ass Kickery, sucks? It’s when you’re the one who slings a bow and arrow around his back and has no super powers. Oh it well and truly sucks a nut being Hawkeye.

But there are some upsides which Matt Fraction jauntily points out as he sees us through the quirky life of the purple archer just trying to make ends meet outside of the group and S.H.I.E.L.D.

We open up this comic series to a scene; Hawkeye is performing his special grappling arrow move. Then, he fails at it, falling quickly unto the roof of a car and breaking several bones in the process. After that, we see the aftermath of something tragic. Clint Barton hurtles into the hospital holding a severely hurt dog. These are just the introductory pages to a vigilante story told in a very unique manner.

Over the course of 20 issues, I’ve come to love Hawkeye and his unlucky ways. He isn’t like the rest of Avengers because his code of ethics falls firmly on the chaotic Robin Hood side of goodness.

Clint Barton, outside of the Avengers, suffers a lot of things we have to go through, daily. He’s almost constantly broke, stealing money from the vaguely Eurasian thugs that he keeps crossing paths with. His renown spreads over time, however, as the people of his building start to respect him for his vigilante ways. No one there, however, has any illusions of who Clint really is.

Oh, Matt doesn’t try to dismiss Hawkeye’s love life either. For anyone who wonders about Black Spider and Clint’s relationship? Well Hawkeye regards her as his ‘Work Wife’. Funny, huh? And there’s Kate… Oh Kate, lovely, Lady Hawkeye.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye

Hawkeye is one of those comics that exude a great amount of warmth by telling us a story that is familiar. Clint’s not the best Avenger in the world, he’s isn’t even the most popular. That leaves him with a bit of a minority complex so he tends to overcompensate, a lot. However, no matter how surrounded he is, he’ll always find a way out relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, that fight instinct also applies to the way he deals with the people trying to help. Our comic protagonist is filled with conflicting morals like this, and so he tends to screw up even when he has the best intentions in mind. This complexity in character makes him much more relatable than his super-powered counter parts.

He’s an excellent addition to Marvel’s ever growing list of unique but powerfully written characters.

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Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon (Marvel NOW!) (Paperback)


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Weekly Comic Round-Up: Ms. Marvel

Dark comics are fun to read and number in the hundreds. Bedlam freaks you out by dragging you through a city of serial killers. Preacher makes the argument that if there was a God, he can be callous, narcissistic, and maybe even sociopathic. Southern Bastards tells a personal story filled with country side violence.

However, these grim comics offer very little in the way of bright moments and instead use dark humor as a means to make smile.

Sometimes you gots ta have a little levity in your life, and there’s a ton of that to be found in Marvel’s reboot of Ms. Marvel.

Delicious Infidel Meat

Delicious Infidel Meat

Now what strikes me as awesome about this comic is that it’s very non-traditional. That image above is of our heroine Kamala. She’s a Pakistani-American who actively practices the Islamic faith. That’s right; Marvel took one helluva step forward and added someone very different to their roster of heroes.

Now, Ms. Marvel is awesome for many reasons. It’s about a young, out of place girl who’s just trying fit in with her American peers. She’ also a complete nerd; often writing Avengers fan fictions for fun, and she also identifies as short and awkward.

All of it is actually very reminiscent of how Peter Parker found his start and his crowd, but Kamala is significant in another way.

Ms. Marvel reaches out to more than just the young, awkward male teen. It crosses borders and tells kids around the world being a hero doesn’t mean you have to be of a specific gender, or race. Don’t get me wrong though, Ms. Marvel is fun in its own right. Kamala is a charming character filled with personal quirks that will make you pitch a fit of laughter.

She’s still trying to find her identity in a world where most heroes seem to be predominantly white.

Being a person of color and of a different creed makes that even harder for her to achieve. There’s even a scene where she uses her powers to appear like the traditional Ms. Marvel, blonde, slender and Caucasian because she wouldn’t believe a person like her is what a standard heroine looked like.

Ms. Marvel isn’t just about a teen struggling through High School life. It’s also about the under representation of people who are different in popular media. The comic’s being brave; standing up for something new in a time when we need a little more of that in the world, and that makes me feel like everything’s gonna be marvelous.

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Ms Marvel #1 ANMN (Comic)


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Weekly Comic Roundup: Comics that need a little more Spotlight

Bedlam

There are a lot of comics out there getting a ton of attention because of their movie counterparts. Okay, okay, maybe it’s mostly Marvel getting new fans because of their successful string of awesome flicks (looking at you Guardians), but because of that, other titles get left by the wayside. So I figured; since people are getting into graphic novels, why shouldn’t I introduce some of the weirder stories roaming around online? So to kick this off I wanted to talk about Bedlam, a horror/detective story from Image Comics.

Way beyond PG
When people talk Batman, the conversation will eventually turn to Joker. How both of them work together in tandem and without one, the other may be a little dull. Bedlam runs on a very simple idea but I may have to spoil a classic Batman arc to get my point across so everything italicized is spoiler.

What if, at the end of the Killing Joke, the Joker actually agrees to get help? What if he reformed and in place of a normal life, he decides to use his twisted knowledge to benefit the community? This is the question that Bedlam asks.

Is evil something we are or something we do?

Bedlam is not a hopeful story; it’s a very horrible one which asks you to join it on a dark trail and it does so in a very visceral manner. However, it also tells a story of redemption, and while the comic is in its early arcs, it’s easy to see that the writers know exactly where this is going to end up. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this journey. Pick up a digital copy and find out if this story’s for you. Once you do though, don’t prod at Bedlam and the question it asks. It might just drive you Madder than Red.

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Bedlam Volume 1 (Paperback)


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Country Boy ethics with too much vague rhetoric. Plus video games, rap, rock, and films.
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Marvel Heroes 2015 Gameplay

Marvel Heroes 2015

This game has been out since June 4, 2013 but we haven’t been able to try it out. Finally we got around to do that so here’s some gameplay footage of Rocket Raccoon in game.

We Simply Game. Nerd talk about anything and everything we come across with.