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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/30/2015

Welcome back comic book fans to another episode of the Crank File. We’re on the cusp of a new year, a time journalists love because it means kicking back and compiling “best of” lists instead of doing any actual writing. If they were really clever, they would just write their regular columns in list format. But while some are looking back at the year past, I have my sights set squarely ahead towards Wednesday’s new books. So without further ado, my final list of cool comics for the year. Goodbye 2015, we hardly knew ye.

Here’s what I’m reading this week

 

The Top of the Pile: Locke and Key, Shades of Terror Adult Coloring Book

 

LaK

Publisher: IDW

Art: Gabriel Rodriguez

Color yourself a fan! Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s wonder-filled world of Locke & Key produced gorgeous, detailed pages of comic book art… and the best of those illustrations is collected here for your coloring enjoyment!

Don’t worry, an adult coloring book isn’t anything sleazy. Although not technically a comic book, I’m a huge fan of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s horror comic and also a huge fan of coloring. I can’t wait to crack open a fresh 64-pack of Crayolas and recreate some of my favorite pages from the series.

 

The Mainstream One: Batman Europa #3

 

BME3

Publisher: DC

Words: Matteo Casali

Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Weakened by a deadly virus, Batman arrives in Paris to find some answers. But with The Joker along for the ride, Batman’s guaranteed to face terrifying challenges as they follow a trail that leads to their common enemy.

The temporary truce between eternal enemies is revealing fascinating and disturbing angles to complex the Batman and Joker relationship. I had high expectations for the story and so far it has delivered a solid setup that has me anxiously awaiting the next issue. But what has really made Europa a stand out Batman series is the tremendous interior artwork. Gorgeous.

 

The Indie One: Spawn #259

 

S259

Publisher: Image

Words and Art: Todd McFarlane

BEGINNIG ‘THE SATAN SAGA WARS!’ – THE FOUR-PART STORY CHRONICLING THE FINAL FATE OF WANDA SIMMONS’ SOUL! THIS STORY WILL FOREVER CHANGE THE WAY SPAWN WILL LIVE HIS LIFE! In the entire run of the SPAWN comic, our hero has never had to face his greatest threat: Satan himself! Starting with this issue, Al Simmons will come face to face with Lucifer for the very first time. A battle of epic proportion will begin and the prize is… Wanda’s soul. This story will forever change the way Spawn will live his life. Join us on this historic odyssey as Spawn takes on the Evil entity that gave him his powers way back in issue #1.

Spawn was my first. The first book that I purchased and read regularly, anticipating each new issue as it came out month to month. I loved this series back when Todd had a creative hand in it, so I’m so excited to see the Spawn creator back in the saddle. Toss in a throw down with Satan and you have my full attention.

 

The #1 One: Rocket Racoon and Groot #1 (Superlog variant)

 

RRG1

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Skottie Young

Art: Filipe Andrade

ROCKET RACCOON BREAKS BAD! There’s a new criminal mastermind in the galaxy, and it’s…ROCKET RACCOON?! How did this happen? SERIOUSLY, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, YOU GUYS??? Groot knows, but he’s not talking! Well, he is talking, but all he’s saying is…oh, you know. Diabolical danger, madcap mysteries and astonishing adventure abound as SKOTTIE YOUNG and FILIPE ANDRADE return to tell tall tail tales of Rocket Raccoon, now with the adorable, arboreal Groot along for the ride! If you love adventure, animals, outer space and just about anything in between, this is the book for you!

This week’s “#1 one” was originally going to be Obi-wan and Anikan #1 but for some reason Marvel is asking retailers not to sell this book, even though it was solicited for and shipping this week. So instead I’m picking another buddy book, featuring the cutest pair of bounty hunters in the galaxy. It’s weird to see Skottie Young’s name on a book but not as the artist, but he’s proven to me with the diabolically funny I Hater Fairyland that he has writing chops to match his outlandish artistic sense. Love the Superlog variant.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Justice League #47 (Jim Lee variant)

 

JL47

Publisher: DC

Words: Geoff Johns

Art: Jason Fabok

Super-star artist Jason Fabok returns as the second act of ‘DARKSEID WAR’ begins! As the members of the Justice League struggle with their new Godhood abilities, Wonder Woman must turn to the beings that have fought the Anti-Monitor before: the Crime Syndicate! Plus, what secret does Grail hold that will change Diana’s world forever?

Jim Lee’s cover is another winner in Harley’s Little Black Book. I just wish they could figure out how to make a polybag that doesn’t damage 99% of books. Oh, the actual story is pretty damn fantastic as well.

 

Happy new year guys and gals! Carpe Comics!

 

 

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Trailer Snark (December 25, 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week:  Who would’ve thunk it (sic)?  Our prediction of Star Wars owning the box office came true.  Pats on the back all around for our deft forecasting and dark horse pick!  LOL.  OK, now we can get serious.  The Force Awakens shattered records far and wide with $238M.  Incredible.  Hard to believe that there were still enough other movie-goers left to give any biz to the other films that had the misfortune of competing, but there were.  Two other films debuted in the top five this week including Alvin and the Chipmunks at number two ($14.4M) and Sisters at number three ($13.4M). Not much else to note about the rest of the list, so lets move on to this week’s Christmas releases!

The Hateful Eight (Weinstein Company) – Drama/Thriller
Rated R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity
Tag Line:  No one comes up here without a good damn reason.
Starring:  Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Plot: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?
Running Time:  168 minutes

Chris:  Kurt Russell is the man.  ‘Nuff said.
Jessica: I am A HUGE QT fan so I am there. I. Am. There.

Joy (Fox 2000) – Comedy/Drama
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Tag Line: None
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper
Plot: Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.
Running Time:  124 minutes

Jessica: Eh. I like the people in it but the story does nothing for me.
Chris: Yawn……next!

Point Break (Warner Bros) – Action/Crime
Rated PG-13 for violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material
Tag Line: No rules.  No limits.
Starring: Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer
Plot: A young FBI agent infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists. “Point Break” is inspired by the classic 1991 hit.
Running Time: 113 minutes
Chris: No Dead Presidents?  No spendo cashola!
Jessica: I found the original boring and this looks even more boring (if that’s possible). I think I fell asleep in despair watching this trailer. All set.

Daddy’s Home (Paramount) – Comedy
PG-13 for language and suggestive material
Tag Line: Family is worth fighting for.Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Thomas Hayden Church
Plot: A mild-mannered radio executive strives to become the best stepdad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
Running Time: 96 minutes

Jessica: Eh. It had it’s funny moments but not one I’d rush to see.
Chris: OK, I laughed most the way through this one.  Just might have to check this one out.

Concussion (Columbia) – Drama
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including some disturbing images, and language
Tag Line: Even legends need a hero.
Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin
Plot:  In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.
Running Time: 123 minutes

Chris: Will Smith plays world reknowned pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, and comes across pretty convincing.
Jessica: This, this looks FANTASTIC. Will Smith looks dynamic and convincing and it’s a compelling story about fighting for what you believe. I’d see this in the theater but Hateful Eight comes first for me.

Tickets Purchased:  Two for The Hateful Eight…another unanimous, even if under-represented, decision!

Not everyone approves of this year's Christmas Carolers.
Not everyone approves of this year’s Christmas Carolers.
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The Female Perspective: The “Mary Sue” Of “Star Wars” (No Serious Spoilers)

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I want to start by saying that I am going to do my best to not put any spoilers in here about the new Star Wars movie because I hate dirty rotten spoilers. If you prefer to know nothing about the movie though, don’t read this yet!

Daisy Ridley plays the character Rey in the new "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Daisy Ridley plays the character Rey in the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

That being said, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens this past weekend and simply adored it. Now that I’ve seen the movie I can start reading the millions of articles about it that have popped up. One trend that is annoying the ever loving heck out of me is the people calling one of the new character, Rey, a “Mary Sue”.

In case you are wondering:

Mary Sue or, in case of a male, Gary Stu or Marty Stu is an idealized fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through extraordinary abilities. Often but not necessarily this character is recognized as an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment. –Wikipedia

I actually didn’t know the full definition and I also didn’t know that Mary Sue’s could also be male characters so I learned something new today and it actually annoys me more because if Rey is a Mary Sue, why isn’t Luke or Han Solo?

Regarding the character of Rey in Star Wars: TFA though, to call her a Mary Sue is to insult a strong, capable female character. It’s not, in fact, the first time the Star Wars Universe has had a strong female character. Have we forgotten Princess Leia???? Or even after her, Padme Amidala, the mother of Luke and Leia? What is all this surprise that a woman who lives in the Star Wars Universe is not only  smart, but capable as well? Why can’t we just accept that and move on?

Strong characters are par for the course in "Star Wars" and I for one am thrilled about it.
Strong characters are par for the course in “Star Wars” and I for one am thrilled about it.

Oh, that’s right, because we live in a patriarchal society that cannot possibly accept a female character as smart, strong and able to get sh&t done alongside her male compatriots. As I said above, you can have a male Mary Sue as well but I don’t believe I have ever heard that term applied to a male character. It’s a clear sexism that a woman who is capable can’t be real but a capable man is totally believable. How annoying!

This kind of pseudo internet anger is infinitely frustrating to behold. The fact is, the new (all of them) characters add depth and dimension to the universe many of us love but beyond that, the Star Wars franchise has always been about the next generation overcoming the rules of the current generation. The original Star Wars starts off with Luke Skywalker, the son of Vader and we follow him and Leia and Solo through their various adventures. Even in the newer films, it is about the rise of Vader and the destruction of the older generation. That’s the whole thing that Star Wars does, it shows us that the wheel of time moves on and the younger kids are eventually going to inherit the mess the previous generation left behind.

could-there-be-truth-to-this-rumor-about-daisy-ridley-s-character-rey-in-star-wars-episod-484712

The fact is, the internet is a hotbed of angry trolls typing forcefully and looking for stuff to criticize. Rey is strong, she is smart and she one of my favorite characters in the entire Star Wars world because she was written well, she was created as a full person and not some damsel in distress at the first sign of trouble. She has her moment, and who can blame her, when she becomes overwhelmed with the weight of what is before her but instead of descending into tears and woe is me, she fights and she kicks butt. If that’s a Mary Sue, than I’m all for that kind of character being in every film.

leiaposter

What did you think of the new Star Wars? Who was your favorite character and did you think Rey was “too” capable? Sound off in the comments!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/23/2015

Happy holidays comic book fans. This time of year always get crazy hectic and a light week of new books is a welcome relief from too much yuletide spirit. Christmas came early for geek nation as the new Star Wars movie launched to almost universal acclaim. The Force Awakens death starred all previous records for opening weekend box office sales and the world breathed a communal sigh of relief. There’s no real secret recipe at work here, it’s a beloved franchise that consistently delivers high-quality product to its rabid fan base.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

The Top of the Pile: The Dark Knight Returns III #2 (Jim Lee Variant)

 

 

DK32

Publisher: DC

Words: Frank Miller

Art: Andy Kubert

DKIII #1 delivered a strong premiere issue for the miniseries. The action and storytelling felt focused and the shocking ending to issue #1 promises a completely original Bat story and I’m totally in for the ride. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read DKIII #1 and you plan on reading this series at some point. Do not read the following description and avoid looking at the regular cover to issue #2 if you don’t want to ruin the surprise.

The unexpected finale to the Dark Knight saga continues as Carrie Kelly gets caught…that is, she finds herself…she gets into—well, you’re just going to have to read it yourself.

 

 

The Mainstream One:  Darth Vader #14

 

DV14

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Kieron Gillen

Art: Salvador Larocca

VADER DOWN, PART FOUR Han & Luke take on Vader’s forces…and more? Meanwhile…Leia makes a hard decision.

Unquestionably, Star Wars rules the pop-culture galaxy. Need proof? Currently, Marvel’s Star Wars comics franchise accounts for about 10% of all comics sold each month. Darth Vader is my favorite Star Wars comic series out now, and the whole gang is reunited as the Vader Down crossover approaches critical mass.

 

 

The Indie One:  Saga #32

 

s32

Publisher: Image

Words: Brain K. Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples

Marko and Alana learn something.

No surprise to anyone, Saga is back with a new arc and back in my pull pile. This modern space opera continues to be my hands down favorite ongoing series.

 

 

The #1 One: Patsy Walker Hellcat #1 (Sophie Campbell variant)

 

HC1

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Kate Leth

Art: Brittney Williams

Patsy Walker has managed to escape her past, her enemies and Hell itself (literally), but nothing compares to job hunting in New York City! Between trying to make rent and dodging (literal) bullets, Patsy barely has time to deal with her mother’s exploitative romance comics about her childhood resurfacing, much less how they start to interfere with her work and dating life. As she goes from living a double life to a triple, what the Hell is Patsy Walker supposed to do? Raise your (literal) claws for Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!

Actress Rachael Taylor’s depiction of Patsy Walker on the Netflix Jessica Jones show helped revitalize this classic character with an all-new, all-different kind of vibe. Digging this Campbell variant, even though it’s not by that Campbell.   

 

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Superman #47 (Harley’s Little Black Book variant)

SM47

Publisher: DC

Words: Gene Luen Yang

Art: Howard Porter

Cover Art: Lee Bermejo

What would happen if the powers of all of Superman’s foes were contained in one villain? You’ll find out when you meet the Amalgam of Composite Superman Foes-and this is one nightmare a semi-powered Man of Steel may not survive! Join series writer Gene Luen Yang and guest artist Howard Porter for an unforgettable new epic! This issue features open-to-order variant covers by Lee Bermejo that will be shipped in opaque polybags.

I think the cover speaks for itself.

 

The Speculation One: New Avengers #4

NA4

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Al Ewing

Art: Gerardo Sandoval

Out beyond the nether dark lurks… Moridun, Master Magus of the Fifth Cosmos! He’s not just an evil wizard – he’s an evil Space Wizard! But when the space dust settles, who will be… the King of Space? Seriously, everything’s cooler in space. How cool will the New Avengers be in space? THEY WILL BE PRETTY COOL!

The first appearance of a new cosmic villain, Moridun, a character who looks suspiciously similar to the classic Lovecraftian nightmare, Cthulhu.

 

 

Carpe Comics!

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Trailer Snark (December 18, 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: I am not sure anyone really cares that the Hunger Games won last week’s box office.  I mean, a solid month in the top spot is an impressive feat, but Mockingjay Part Two will undoubtedly be overshadowed and their achievements long forgotten as the new JJ Abrams led Star Wars franchise lifts off this week.  In fact, I think advance tickets sales we almost half of the latest Hunger Games’ $244 domestic overall haul.  It’s hard to imagine The Force Awakens not surpassing $250M domestic before we ring in the New Year.  I confess that I am disappointed that Ron Howard’s latest movie, In the Heart of the Sea could only muster an $11M opening in second place this past week as a debut.  The rest of the list remains much the same as previous week’s, and overall box office sales were weak.  I guess all of that cash went to the Star Wars advanced sales.  So, let’s now waste any more time and move on to this week’s pictures…….as if you have not seen this first trailer…..

Star Wars Episode VII:  The Force Awakens (Disney) – Sci-Fi/Action
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Tag Line:  Coming to your galaxy this winter.
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hamill
Plot: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.
Running Time: 135 minutes

Chris: I mean, really.  Is anyone not seeing this film?  JJ Abrams rescues another sci-fi franchise.  Pure gold.
Jessica: All my eyes can see is STAR FREAKIN WARS!!!!!!! Cannot wait to check this out.
Rob: Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.FINALLY!  IT’S HERE!!!!  I will watch no other trailer.  I will see this film multiple times.  I can’t FREAKING wait!!!
Jim: Gee, never heard of it. Their Marketing department must be asleep.
Ken: ???

Alvin & the Chipmunks:  The Road Chip (Fox 2000) – Family
Rated PG for some mild rude humor
Tag Line:  Fast and Furry-ous
Starring:  Jason Lee, Kaley Cuoco, Bella Thorn, Anna Faris, Justin Long, and Christina Applegate
Plot: Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother.
Running Time: 116 minutes

Jessica: Chipmunks must die.
Jim: I watch the trailer while shaking my head and thinking “Pure Evil.” I am truly happy that my daughter has never shown the slightest interest in seeing one of these movies.
Ken: Suuuuper cuuute. And formulaic.
Chris: Never liked them (even as a kid).  I haven’t seen the other two live action movies, and this one won’t break that streak.

Sisters (Universal) – Comedy
Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use
Tag Line: Big sisters don’t always know best.
Starring:  Tina Fey, Amy Poehler
Plot: Two sisters decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.
Running Time: 118 minutes

Jim: I like Amy and Tina, but this just looks desperate.
Ken: I love Poehler and Fey.  One of the great comedy duos of all time, right up there with Spade and Farley.  Trailer was kinda meh, story seems derivative, but I’ll give it a watch sometime.
Chris: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are not my favorite comedic actors, but the trailer did have me laughing at some very awkward scenes.  I’ll definitely catch it on the small screen.
Jessica: I’m sure it’s funny, those ladies are hilarious but that’s an at home view for sure.

Extraction (Lionsgate) – Thriller
Rated R for violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity
Tag Line: Vengeance runs in the family.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Kellan Lutz, Gina Carano
Plot: A former CIA operative is kidnapped by a group of terrorists. When his son learns there is no plan for his father to be saved, he launches his own rescue operation.
Running Time: 113 minutes

Jessica: I do like a mindless action flick but I don’t know about this one…probably will catch it years from now for free on TV.
Ken: It’s good to see that Bruce Willis is still getting movie roles playing Bruce Willis.
Jim: I like Bruce Willis, but I’ve seen this movie too many times before. Might be worth a rental for Gina Carano (I liked Haywire).
Chris: I thought Bruce Willis said two or three years ago he was done making mindless action films.  His star is fading for sure, so he is probably happy he didn’t go direct to DVD/Streaming with this release.

Tickets Purchased:  Five tickets for….do I even have to say it?

Will Han Solo live to tell the tale?  Millions of Facebookers forbid you to disclose this information!
Will Han Solo live to tell the tale? Millions of Facebookers forbid you to disclose this information!
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The Female Perspective: What “Star Wars” Was Like For Me

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


star-wars-episode-7-image

In a galaxy far, far away called Coventry,

a young girl watched in awe as Star Wars first made itself know in her world.

She marveled at the bravery, the space-y-ness of it all,

the glamor of Leia. The roughness of Solo.

The goodness of Luke.

And her mind expanded…


I wasn’t even born when the first Star Wars came out in 1977 and I was pretty young for the sequel but I remember watching them on video when I was young and loving them. Watching them over and over again. I admit, I was also the perfect age to love the Ewoks and it is a love for all things Star Wars that has stuck with me my whole life. You can imagine then that I am quite excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I admit without any shame that I teared up when I saw Han and Chewie back again in the first trailer. I am 99% certain that I might cry during the actual movie. Not because it is sad, but because I have been waiting for so long to see this. To finally see a Star Wars movie on the big screen.

I was disappointed in the prequels, and by disappointed, I mean I hated them. That first one, ugh. The middle one I have never seen the whole movie (and maybe one day I will rectify that) and the third one, the best part is the last 15 minutes!

103012-star-wars111

Regardless of all this, I remember being a kid and getting Star Wars action figures to play with. It was the 80’s so I got the “girl” toys and my brother got the “boy” toys, aka, the cooler ones. I remember having every single Princess Leia imaginable and one random Boba Fett (why the Fett parents? Why?) while my brother had all the characters along with the Millennium Falcon. We would combine our toy forces and play together so I got to be the “boy” characters every once in awhile.

As a kid, when I played Star Wars with my brother or friends, there weren’t a lot of characters open to me, or at least I didn’t think there were, because this was the ’80s—girls were supposed to play girl characters, and boys were supposed to play boy characters. ~The Mary Sue

The thing was, yeah, I liked Princess Leia. She was brave, beautiful and outspoken. She kicked butt right next to the guys and didn’t get all girly and stupid. But the character I really liked? Han Solo. That dude was a bad ass! He did what he wanted and most of the time he did the right thing. He clearly had a history of doing bad things but now he was a good guy, awesome!

I’ve always had a history of identifying with the anti-hero or even the villain in films. When I first saw the Tim Burton Batman, I loved the Joker more than I did Batman! I thought Batman was a big old stick in the mud whereas the Joker had fun … Sure, he killed some people, but … Yeah, there’s no way to justify that so I’ll just continue on.

A short while ago I came across an article about how other women identified with Han Solo, not in a sexy way, but in a way where she wanted to be him. I dug it. It made sense to me. Of course, Harrison Ford is super sexy, there is no denying that, but when I was a kid, it wasn’t about his pretty face and roguish grin, it was about his ability to fight and be brave while also being just a little bit bad. It seemed super cool to me. It also seemed kind of like the wrong way to think, so I kept it to myself. It’s only now that I’m older that I fully understand that these feelings are good, they’re okay, they’re totally normal and that a lot of young girls and women have them. You cannot help what character in a story you identify with and feeling shameful of that is a product of a society that still has “girl” toys and “boy” toys along with “proper” gender roles. The fact is, be proud of yourself, be proud of what character you like the most and never, ever feel ashamed of who you truly are.

[I]t seems so simple: you should be able to be whoever you want, no matter your gender, race, or your sexuality. You can be drawn to a character without being limited by a crush on him or her. ~The Mary Sue

Now, as an adult and a writer I realize that my female characters are very often variations and versions of Han Solo. They’re all brave, they’re all ready to fight if need be and many of them have mysterious pasts. One of my favorite characters, Magenta from “The Last Daughter Of Lilith,” is the perfect example of that. She is scarred up both emotionally and physically, you know she’s been through  a lot of bad stuff and she’s come out on the other side of it rough and tough. Maybe she doesn’t have a roguish grin and a lot of witty quips but I know that before all the really and stuff went down, she did have a grin and some witticisms. Time has changed her, matured her, made her tougher, sadder and braver.

Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens

It’s funny to be 37 and now just realizing how much of an influence Star Wars had on my creative side. Even Princess Leia gets in there, that same kind of toughness comes through in my characters. In my personality. Princess L taught me not to take any crap and even though it took me a long time to learn that and actually enact it, learn it I did. I think my beloved Star Wars characters were the foundation of the creative world I began to create. My female characters don’t need a man to complete them, sure romance happened, but it wasn’t the piece that makes them who they are. Other events, tragedies, life in general, created them, their ways and their attitudes. It’s only now that I realize that those movies I watched as  a kid, Star Wars, Star Trek, Supergirl, Labyrinth all had something in common…strong, brave and imperfect characters that are both male and female.

star wars a new hope 1_edit-xlarge

For so many, Star Wars is more than just a sci-fi epic, it’s a lifestyle. It amazes me to this day how many of us will troop out to theater’s to witness the adventures of our favorite characters, to see how they’ve fared during these intervening years (where the heck is Luke?). Sure, they’re older, but we have to hope they’re also wiser while also being as brave and fun as they once were. I, for one, will be there this weekend and will report back.

What Han taught me is that you can be attracted to people and characters in many different ways. There will always be characters you can relate to and they can always tell you things about yourself to help you on your journey. You just have to listen. ~The Mary Sue

What about you? How did Star Wars influence you? Who’s the character that really spoke to you? Tell me about it in the comments!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/16/2015

Greetings nerds and nerdettes and welcome back to another episode of the Crank File. Last weekend I had the pleasure to meet the immensely talented writer and drawer of the hit new Image series Headlopper. Andrew MacLean and his wife (Erin, I think) were at my LCS over the weekend signing books and meeting fans. Super nice couple.  The shop was raffling away a few items and I had my eyes on a signed copy of Rick and Morty #6 featuring a Ball Fondlers variant. I didn’t get the book but I did win this fine sketch of the puckish Gnym.

Gnym

I’m calling it good karma for featuring both issues of Headlopper here and here.

This week is all about the Star Wars and it seems as if comic book publishers took notice. It’s a light week for new books which is too bad for me since I won’t be seeing Star Wars until Tuesday and plan on avoiding the internet and television all weekend. May the force be strong with this one. I just don’t know what I’ll do if I have to relive another Phantom Menace.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

The Top of the Pile: Justice League #46 Looney Tunes variant

JL46

Publisher: DC
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapul

‘Darkseid War’ rages on! Wonder Woman and Mister Miracle must rally to find the missing Anti-Monitor, while the rest of the League deals with the consequences of their new, godlike abilities.

The Darkseid Wars has been a great read, a crossover saga for the ages. In this epic battle against Darkseid, DC has flipped the superhero dynamic, turning their flagship characters into actual gods (or in Captain Marvel’s case, different gods). I’ve been a big fan of DC’s Looney Tunes variant month and this cover may be my favorite yet.

 

 

The Mainstream One: Squadron Supreme #1

 

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Publisher: Marvel
Words: James Robinson
Art: Leonard Kirk

They’re each the sole survivor of a lost Earth and they’ll do anything to protect this one, whether you like it or not. The Squadron Supreme — comprising Hyperion (Avengers), Nighthawk (Supreme Power), Dr. Spectrum (the Great Society), Blur (DP7) and Power Princess — are a team that doesn’t ask permission or what the rules are. To them all that matters is the safety of Earth and if you stand in the way…that’s your problem! Tell that to the Squadron’s first target — Namor, destroyer of Dr. Spectrum’s homeworld, who will have to pay for his crimes…but at what cost to the people of Atlantis?

Spoilerish alert: The Sub Mariner is getting deep sixed (or however deep Atlanteans bury their dead). Marvel is not exactly trying to keep it a secret either, the cover of Squadron Supreme #2 features Hyperion holding Prince Namor’s disembodied head. Although he’s not the most popular Marvel character, the Sub-Mariner is a Silver Age original and one of comic books’ first anti-heroes. His death will certainly be an important event which will cause repercussions. We know that deaths in comics rarely stick for long, but we may not be seeing the Sub Mariner for a while.

 

The Indie One: Descender #8

 

D1

Publisher: Image
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen

TIM-21 and his companions are taken to the mind bending home world of the Robot resistance while a long lost figure from Tim’s past emerges but will he be friend or foe?

The last issue of Descender dropped bomb after bomb on the reader, ending with a crazy cliffhanger that let you know that noone is safe. Careful not to get too attached to any of the characters here. I’m loving Descender’s watercolored art style, and Jeff Lemire is proving to be one of the most talented writers in the industry.

 

 

The #1 One: Weirdworld #1

 

WW1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Sam Humphries
Art: Mike Del Mundo

Imagine, being trapped in a world of sword and sorcery. With no sword and sorcery experience to speak of. This is the story of Becca, a girl stuck in Weirdworld, with only one mission: get home alive! Marvel’s own twisted fantasy realm comes alive before your eyes! Barbarians! Wizards! And tricked out sports cars!

Weirdworld was my favorite mini-series to spin out of Marvel’s Secret Wars. I was disappointed to see that Jason Aaron was not writing the ongoing series, but as long as Del Mundo is on artwork then I’m on board for a trip back to Weirdworld. The series will feature a new character Becca, but I’m really hoping Arkon makes an appearance.

 

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Superman: American Alien #2

 

SAA2

Publisher: DC
Words: Max Landis
Art: Nick Dragotta

After Smallville experiences its first violent crime in years, teenager Clark Kent is pressured by his best friend Pete Ross to take matters into his own hands in the second issue of Superman: American Alien

A teenage Clark Kent getting his mugshot taken, sporting a black eye and bloody nose?? I need to read the story behind this cover.

 

 

Carpe Comics!

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Trailer Snark (December 11, 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part Two bested the competition again this week taking in $18.6M (added to its domestic haul of $227M).  Krampus was the highest and only debut in the top ten coming in at number two with $16M holiday horror dollars.  Creed and The good Dinosaur came in at three and four at a virtual $15.5M tie (Creed has achieved $65M domestically, while The Good Dinosaur has gone to $75.9M overall).  The fifth spot belonged to that British superhero James Bond as Spectre took in $5.4M ($184M overall).  The rest of the top ten went as follows:  The Night Before ($4.9M/$31.9M), The Peanuts Movie ($3.5M/$121.4M), Spotlight ($2.9M/$16.6M), Brooklyn ($2.4M/$11.2M), and The Secret in Their Eyes ($1.9M/$17.2M).   What does this weekend have in store for us?

In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros) – Adventure/Biography
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material
Tag Line: Experience the true encounter that inspired the myth Moby Dick.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson
Plot: Based on the 1820 event, a whaling ship is preyed upon by a giant whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home.
Running Time: 121 minutes

Chris:  Man vs Whale.  What does the tale of the tape say?  I never read the classic, I am ashamed to admit, but the trailer makes me want to order up some seafood!
Jessica: Looks good though I’ll admit I HATED “Moby Dick” when I had to read it in High School. Hopefully the movie is better – it certainly looks mighty exciting.
Jim: Looks epic and exciting, Ron Howard seldom disappoints.
Ken: I was really hoping this was going to be terrible so that I could make the “thar’ she blows” joke again, but that actually did look pretty good. Ron Howard may be on to something here, trading the book’s dense symbolism for CGI sea monsters.

American Hero (Screen Media) – Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi
Not Rated
Tag Line: From zero to superhero
Starring:  Stephen Dorff, Eddie Griffin
Plot: Melvin, a reluctant Superhero, lives only for crime, women and drugs – until he realizes that the only way he will ever get to see his estranged son is to go straight and fulfill his potential as a crime fighter.
Running Time: 116 minutes

Ken: (Agree with Jim below) I feel like we’ve seen this flick before (don’t forget Hancock). It’s essentially an alternate reality where Magneto is white trash and Prof X is black.
Chris: It’s the Greatest American Hero, the even bigger LOSER edition.
Jessica: Ugh. I really dislike Dorff, I find him tedious at best and this movie looks to highlight everything I find annoying about him.
Jim: This sort of thing has been done before (Hero, Chronicle), but it’s a good premise—looks like it could be fun!

The Big Short (Paramount) – Biography/Drama
Rated R for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity
Tag Line:  This is a true story.
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei
Plot: Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.
Running Time: 130 minutes

Jim: A great cast, looks interesting. Not a theater pic, but definitely a rental.
Ken: Very solid trailer, stellar cast and Zeppelin on the soundtrack doesn’t hurt none either.
Chris: The most significant economic event of the last decade on screen with an all-star cast.  Count me in.
Jessica: A lot of good people here. I enjoyed Moneyball and The Blind Side and the story is a compelling one.  Not a theater flick for me but at home viewing for sure.

The Lady in the Van (Sony Picture Classics) – Biography/Comedy/Drama
Rated PG – 13 for a brief unsettling image
Tag Line:  A mostly true story.
Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Domenic Cooper
Plot: A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her car that’s parked in his driveway.
Running Time: 104 minutes

Jessica: Dame Maggie looks fantastic in this one. I’d watch it at home.
Jim: Looks “cute” enough I suppose, but…..naaaaaaaaah.
Ken: I’m gonna need subtitles here. Yup, nope I’m lost. Can’t understand a word of what’s being said, but it looks charming.
Chris:  “I am not the carer.  I am here, she is over there.  There is no caring.”  Yep.  That about sums it up for me.

The Dark Horse (Broad Green Pictures) – Drama
Rated R for language throughout, and drug use
Tag Line:  Bravery is contagious.
Starring: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston
Plot: An emotionally charged and inspiring drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own adversities – finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children in his community.
Running Time: 124 minutes

Chris:  Not my idea of entertainment.
Jessica: What is it with the chess movies lately? I feel like there have been a couple before this. Anyway, looks interesting but not interesting enough for me to actively see it in a theater or at home honestly.
Jim: I wouldn’t have thought Searching For Bobby Fischer would be worth my time, but it turned out to be a great movie. This looks interesting, but not enough for me to run to see another chess movie.
Ken: An unstable yet brilliant individual tries to help the youth in his community by teaching them love for a game.  Classic.

Don Verdean (Buffalo Film Company) – Comedy
Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, some language and brief violence
Tag Line: Fraud works in mysterious ways.
Starring:  Sam Rockwell, Leslie Bibb, Danny McBride
Plot: A self-professed biblical archaeologist who has fallen on hard times starts to bend the truth in order to continue inspiring the faithful.
Running Time: 90 minutes

Ken: Pretty sure this trailer is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
Chris:  From the looks of the trailer, this is going to be a cult classic or a very large bag of refuse.
Jessica: Oh this looks ridiculous in the best possible way. Rockwell is a personal favorite and Clements has always tickled my funny bone ever since “Flight Of The Concourds” so I would totally go see this.
Jim: Ok, it was time to retire people getting hit in the midsection for laughs about 30 years ago. A good cast, but the trailer tries too hard to be “wacky.” Pass.

Tickets Purchased:  One for Don Verdean (Jessica), one for Dark Horse (Ken), one for American Hero (Jim), and one for In the Heart of the Sea (Chris)…a four-way tie!

Superhero Don Verdean escapes the stomach of Moby Dick to retrieve Jonah's fabled chess set.....or something.
Superhero Don Verdean escapes the stomach of Moby Dick to retrieve Jonah’s fabled chess set…..or something.
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The Female Perspective: “Forget Women Seeing This”

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


As I was scrolling through the online world this week I came across an article that both amused the holy heck out of me and pissed me off royally. The article, is a short piece about a “veteran” film blogger who was talking about the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “The Revenant” and how women wouldn’t enjoy it because of it’s brutal nature.

Hmmm…okay veteran blogger, generalize much?

Now, the movie isn’t out yet so I cannot comment on that. I can, however, comment on the trailer that I have watched a couple times. It looks interesting, sure, but I’m not sure it’s interesting enough for me to trek out to the theater and shell over 400 million dollars for the film (that might be an exaggeration of the cost of a theater ticket…). I can say unequivocally though that the reason I wouldn’t rush out to see it is not because it looks raw and brutal. Nope. I can watch a brutal movie any day of the week, I just want to WANT to see it.

These days, with the cost of seeing a movie so high it takes a lot for me to want to see a film. It has to include movie stars I enjoy, a director I love, a good story. It almost always has to include super hero’s and/or be made from a book that I adored. I’m very picky and I know for certain that the next movie I see will the Star Wars: The Force Awakens and after that? Not so sure.

My taste in movies aside, this article proves a very good point, people are VERY sensitive these days and they take the smallest comment and turn it into a “controversy”. Case in point, the veteran film blogger who simply Tweeted,

“The Revenant” is an unflinchingly brutal, you-are-there, raw-element immersion like something you’ve never seen. Forget women seeing this. – Hollywood Elsewhere @wellshwood

Film Blogger Jeffrey Wells
Film Blogger Jeffrey Wells

For those four words, “Forget women seeing this,” Jeffrey Wells caused quite the Twitter furor (what else is new these days?) and had to apologize for his comments. The fact is, this is not the first time Wells has gotten himself in trouble, the article goes on to say,

This is not the first time Wells has triggered controversy. In a post about the trailer for Trainwreck, he criticised Amy Schumer’s looks, describing her as “Jennifer Aniston’s somewhat heavier, not-as-lucky sister”; he wrote: “Life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs” in a post about the Neil LaBute play Reasons to Be Pretty; and Deadline leaked a 2007 email in which he asked 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold for topless photos of Vinessa Shaw. –The Guardian

So yeah, this guy is pretty obviously a misogynist so I will not defend his words. He has his opinion and he feels that a brutal, unflinching look at a man trying to survive in old-time America would be too much for our fragile female souls.

Basically, I think this guy can go pound sand.

There are probably a handful of MEN in this world who would also find a movie like “The Revenant” difficult to watch and Wells could have chosen any other combo of words to express the fact that the movie is harsh and unrelenting and violent. He didn’t though, he said what he meant and what he means (I assume) is that women don’t like violent, brutal films. As a writer of any kind generalizing like this is a dangerous thing to do. It is unfair to whatever sex or race or whoever you single out because odds are, there are going to be people who disagree with you. As did many, MANY folks disagree with Wells and his comment.

"The Revenant"
“The Revenant”

Newsflash Mr. Wells, women can enjoy a brutal, violent film like the next guy, but sometimes we choose not to subject ourselves to violence in our theater experience because, guess what? There is TONS of violence in the “real world” these days and we can all do with a little mellow, a little peace. Just like anyone else, male or female.

I don’t know if this all makes sense but what I am trying to say is this; People need to just leave jerks like Wells to their dark holes of misogynistic women-judging and move on to address the things that really matter. Like feeding hungry families, helping the poor and all the other issues plaguing our nation today.

That being said, all Wells did was make me WANT to see this movie now so you can bet your bottom that I’ll be watching it in some form and I won’t shy away from it’s brutal ideas and visuals. I’m a horror movie junkie and while I may get grossed out, I’ll still watch the darn thing because half the fun of going to a movie is living through someone else’s experiences and seeing what happens. Besides all of that, if a movie is well done (and with this film there is a lot of pre-Oscar buzz around it), even if it’s a rough watch, it’s worth my time. I’ve watched plenty of movies that have difficult themes including some of DiCaprio’s latest work, and have found them challenging to my heart, soul and mind and that, to me, is the BEST kind of entertainment.

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What do YOU think of Wells’ comments? Do you think you’ll see “The Revenant”? Sound off below!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/9/2015

Greetings comic book fans and welcome back to the Crank File, the only file that gives you 50% more file per crank. Another good week of books coming up and I have still barely touched last week’s stack. So this week, instead of my normal shtick, I’m giving you two comics per category and keeping my personal opinions short.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

The Tops of the Pile:

 We Stand on Guard #6

 

WSOG6

Publisher: Image

Words: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Steve Skroce

MINISERIES CONCLUSION The smash-hit miniseries reaches its epic FINAL ISSUE with explosive battles and shocking revelations… but how will things end for the Great White North?

There are few things in the world more satisfying than a good Brian K. Vaughan ending.

 

Harrow County #8

 

HC8

Publisher: Dark Horse

Words: Cullen Bunn

Art: Tyler Crook

Kammi has rallied the forsaken haints to her dark cause. Now Emmy may have to make a profound sacrifice if she hopes to protect her kith and kin at the heart of Harrow County.

Demon fight!! Latest news on the Syfy TV adaptation is that it has moved into development.

 

 

The Mainstream Ones:

Secret Wars #8

 

SW8

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Jonathan Hickman

Art: Esad Ribic

GENESIS! 

I’m sticking it through until the end, which has now officially been pushed back to January 2016.

 

Contest of Champions #3

 

CoC3

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Al Ewing

Art: Paco Medina

IRON MAN! JOE FIXIT! GAMORA! MARVEL’S HEAVY HITTERS COLLIDE IN THE CONTEST! Can Iron Man and Gamora trust Guillotine – or is the call of her bloody legacy too strong? Ares strikes! Plus: Venom Hulk?!

Yup, you read that correct. Venom. Hulk.

 

 

The Indie Ones:

Monstress #2

 

M2

Publisher: Image

Writer: Marjorie Liu

Words: Sana Takeda

Maika fights to cross the wall.

Loved the oversized first issue. Can’t wait for this #2.

 

Head Lopper #2

 

HL2

Publisher: Image

Writer: Andrew MacLean

Words: Andrew MacLean

Norgal and Agatha pass through a dark forest with a particularly grim history, where they meet a strange little creature named Gnym. Is he a friend? Or does he just want to see undead giants squish the Head Lopper to meat-jelly? All this… And more! MAJOR PLOT POINT Villain, Servin Lulach’s origin story is introduced.

Loved the oversized first issue. Can’t wait for this #2. Creator Andrew MacLean will be hanging out at Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham, MA on Saturday Dec 12 from noon to 3pm.

 

 

The #1 Ones:

Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

 

BMTMNT1

Publisher: DC

Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Freddie Williams II

DC Comics and IDW team up for the crossover you never saw coming as two of the greatest entertainment icons meet for the first time! In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail. Get ready for excitement as heroes and villains from both worlds clash and team up in an epic battle that threatens the very fabric of reality!

There was no way that I wasn’t buying a Batman/TMNT crossover. Having Tynion IV writing the script is just gravy. I’m snagging the Eastman variant.

 

Snow Blind #1

 

SB1

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Words: Ollie Masters

Art: Tyler Jenkins

What happens when you discover your dad isn’t the man you thought he was? For high school teen Teddy, life in a sleepy suburb in Alaska turns upside-down when he innocently posts a photo of his dad on Facebook, only to learn he and his family are in the Witness Protection Program. A man seeking revenge invades their town, and soon FBI agents arrive, too. But what if his dad’s reasons for going into the program aren’t as innocent as he says?

I’m really digging the creative team on this one. The 1:20 Matt Taylor variant cover is stunning.

 

 

The Ones I’m Buying for the Cover:

Insexts #1

 

I1

Publisher: Aftershock Comics

Words: Marguerite Bennett

Art: Ariela Kristantina

At the dusk of a century, a pair of vengeful Victorian vixens discover a horrifying power that transforms them into rich and strange new creatures. Armed with their dark, evolving forms, they descend into a world of the cultured and occult, with new senses and new sensuality, to forge a life for themselves and the child of their love. This new monthly series is the brainchild of writer Marguerite Bennett (A-Force, Angela, Red Sonja) and artist Ariela Kristantina (Wolverines, Deep State), a comic unlike any you’ve seen before!

Classic art nouveau, reminiscent of painter Alphonse Mucha.

 

Batman #47

 

BM47

Publisher: DC

Words: Scott Snyder

Art: Grag Capullo

While Jim Gordon is in the fight of his life against Mr. Bloom, Bruce Wayne discovers a shocking secret about his past that will change everything in Gotham City! This issue features open-to-order variant covers by Alex Ross that will be shipped in opaque polybags.

This Alex Cover is a swipe of a cover he did in 1999 for Batman: Harley Quinn. The issue was printed in prestige format and introduced Harley Quinn into the main DC continuity. There were unconfirmed reports last week that a few fans actually received original artwork within their black poly bags for Harley’s Little Black Book #1.

 

 

The Speculation Ones:

Justice League: Darkseid War #1 (Lex Luthor)

 

JLDW1

Publisher: DC
Words: Francis Manapul

Art: Bong Dazo

Lex Luthor has gained the power of a God, but his one failure continues to deny him the peace he craves-and only a crazed Superman can help him get it!

If you’re caught up with the Darkseid Wars, then you know that at the end of the latest issue Lex Luther is imbued with god-like powers. This will be his first full appearance with super powers. Lex was scary enough when he was just relying on his evil mind.

 

Brooklyn Animal Control #1

 

BAC1

Publisher: IDW

Words: J T Petty

Art: Stephen Thompson

Brooklyn Animal Control is not your run-of-the-mill social services agency, and the officers assigned to it are not your average caseworkers? they are a breed apart. These street-hardened veterans negotiate a dangerous secret world in the heart of New York City, one inhabited by werewolves that roam the streets by night, and infest the hidden back rooms of the criminal elite in their human alter-egos by day. Which of their forms is more viscous is open to debate? but both are equally deadly!

The USA channel is currently developing a pilot for the TV adaptation of this series.

Carpe Comics!