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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – January 30, 2019

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman Beyond #28

Publisher: DC
Words: Dan Jurgens
Art: Norm Rapmund, Chris Stevens, Brett Booth

What it is: The Joker prepares to deliver his fatal punchline: everything and the kitchen sink hits the fan for Batman and Robin, and even with Dick Grayson’s help, the Dynamic Duo of tomorrow and Bruce Wayne may not stand a chance. Will Joker turn Terry’s brother into the new Jason Todd? Is now a good time for Terry and Bruce to clash? And why are Neo-Gothamites cheering on the Clown Prince? Will anyone survive ‘The Final Joke’?


The Mainstream One: X-Force #2

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Ed Brisson
Art: Dylan Burnett, Pepe Larraz

What it is: X-Force has been framed for murder! And in order to clear their names, they must reluctantly team up with the young Cable and Deathlok. But will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to stop a mutant genocide?! Parental Advisory


The Indie One: Rick & Morty Dungeons & Dragons #4 (of 4)

Publisher: IDW
Words: Patrick Rothfuss
 Troy Little

What it is: Dungeons & Morty & Destruction & Death & Rick & Swords & Sassery & Hashtag & Ampersand & It all ends here, people & oh, yeah-Dragons. Patrick Rothfuss, the multiple award-winning, bestselling author of The Kingkiller Chronicles series, joins Dungeons & Dragons fan-favorite author Jim Zub (Avengers, Wayward) on a tri-dimensional fantasy adventure! Rick and Morty is one of the most popular shows in Adult Swim history, with a steady fan following since it debuted in 2013. This is the first official Rick and Morty team-up story and should have deep traction in fan circles! Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition sales continue to grow each year and the Baldur’s Gate video games have sold millions of copies around the world. D&D has returned as a cultural force in bookstores and online.


The #1 One: Fight Club 3 #1

Publisher: Dark Horse
Words: Chuck Palahniuk
Art: Cameron Stewart

What it is:  Marla Singer is about to deliver her second child, but the daddy isn’t her husband–it’s Tyler Durden, who’s very invested in his heir, and the world he’ll inherit. Marla, her first son, and her husband–the unnamed narrator in the novel, who now goes by Balthazar–live in a rundown motel with sketchy neighbors. In the FIGHT CLUB 2 graphic novel, Tyler transformed Project Mayhem into Rize or Die–now, as a road to paradise presents itself, a new group has implemented a ruthless and deviant plan to fine-tune mankind, leading Balthazar to forge an unlikely alliance . . . with Tyler Durden.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Batgirl #31

Publisher: DC
Mairghread Scott
Paul Pelletier
Cover Art: Stanley Artgerm Lau

What it is: In this issue, it’s Batgirl for Congress! Plus, masked assassins and awkward exes! Barbara Gordon volunteers to campaign for an up-and-coming reformer candidate who wants to take on the GCPD. That puts Barbara in a tough spot against her father-police commissioner James Gordon. And just when things couldn’t get any more awkward, a former flame reenters Barbara’s life. Personal angst and a masked super-villain hunting a mystery target. It’s gonna be a long day, Babs.

Why we like it: A great Artgerm. At first glance, her pose appears a bit awkward. But then you look at the reflection in the window and realize that’s she’s actually upside down, falling. Let me fix that for you.


That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – May 23, 2018

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. Every Wednesday is new comic book day and on Tuesdays I like to spotlight some of the stuff I’ll be checking out.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile:  Invincible Iron Man #600

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Everyone

What it is: BRIAN BENDIS ENDS HIS MARVEL TENURE WITH THIS VERY SPECIAL OVERSIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Tony Stark is back, but in what form? At least five huge surprises await new and old fans alike. Industry legend Brian Michael Bendis drops his final Marvel Comic to end an era, and he’s going out big! This super-sized anniversary extravaganza features artistic contributions from a bevy of Bendis’ collaborators from over the years, including Jim Cheung, David Marquez, Mike Deodato Jr., Mark Bagley, Leinil Francis Yu, Daniel Acuña and a few other surprises! All this and a huge new villain arises! And the futures of Tony, Riri Williams and Victor Von Doom are all revealed!

Why we love it: Bendis’ last issue before he moves on for the bluer pastures at DC. I read that Tony is going to try to bring Rhodey back from the dead. This is sure to end well.

The Mainstream One: Champions #20

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Jim Zub
Art: Sean Izaaksi

What it is: What good is conquering a world if it’s already destroyed by the time you take over? The Master is determined to save Earth from itself and the Champions are going to help him do it… Plus, a new hero from an unexpected source – Who is Snowguard?

Why we like it: New character alert, Amka Aliyak aka Snowguard. She’s a teenaged Inuk whose powers seem similar to DC’s Beast Boy. She can shapeshift and take on animal traits. Champions has a smaller print run which could make this a harder to find first appearance down the road, if the character sticks around. What is up with Hulk’s face? He looks like friggin Mr. Yunioshi.

The Indie One: Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2

Publisher: Dark Horse
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dan Ormston

What it is: The Eisner Award-winning superhero saga returns! As new Black Hammer Lucy Weber fights her way out of this gritty new dimension, she finds herself caught in Hell itself and up against trickster demons, Satan, and a bizarre emo god.

Why we like it: Jeff Lemire keeps hammering out the hits. Age of Doom is delivering the same sense of mystery and dread that made the first volume of Black Hammer so enjoyable. 

The #1 One: Black Panther #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Taneshi Coates
Art: Daniel Acuna

What it is: A NEW DIRECTION FROM TA-NEHISI COATES & DANIEL ACUñA! A bold new direction for the Black Panther! For years, T’Challa has fought off invaders from his homeland, protecting Wakanda from everything from meddling governments to long-lost gods. Now, he will discover that Wakanda is much bigger than he ever dreamed… Across the vast Multiverse lies an empire founded in T’Challa’s name. Readers caught a glimpse of it in MARVEL LEGACY #1. Now find out the truth behind the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda! Ta-Nehisi Coates welcomes aboard fan-favorite artist Daniel Acuña for a Black Panther story unlike any other!

Why we like it: Black Panther in spaaaaaace! Just look at that 1:25 In-Hyuk Lee variant cover! How are we gonna top that?

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Batgirl #23

Publisher: DC
Words: Hope Larson
Art: Minkyu Jung
Cover Art: Josh Middleton

What it is: ‘STRANGE LOOP’ finale! Trapped in a prison of her own mind’s making, Batgirl must act out of character in order to reenter reality. Can she put her need to survive above the needs of those she’s sworn to protect? Or is she doomed to wander the mazes of her mind for all of eternity?!

Why we like it: This is going to be a semi-virgin cover and will look drop dead gorgeous. Congrats Josh Middleton, you’ve created a classic!


That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Female Perspective: Superhero Toys For Girls Are Here!

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’ve written before about the lack of superhero toys for girls. The almost complete absence of Black Widow merchandise for the last few Captain America and Avengers movies has been insulting to say the least. That seems to be changing for the better, thank goodness!

After a fairly big backlash against Hasbro for not having Rey toys from the newest Star Wars film (which they rectified asap after giving us all the lame excuse that it would give away plot secrets, puh-leese) we have recently been made aware that they will FINALLY have Black Widow toys to align with the Captain America: Civil War and I am pleased as punch.

One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from
One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from

I remember when I was a kid being sorely disappointed in the lack of superhero toys for girls. I had every single Princess Leia figure there was (wish I still had them!) and one lone Boba Fett, but my brother had all the other characters so we managed to make it work (when we were getting along), but I struggle to remember any other toys that I could have played with as a child, sure there was She-Ra, female Thundercats characters and the like, but I spent a lot of time playing with My Little Pony and Barbie toys, I just made them into superheroes. They rocked some pretty awesome ensembles, except for JEM because darn her, she was twice the size of Barbie so they couldn’t share their clothes! Ahh the trials and tribulations of a small child…

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that I am REALLY happy to see the growing hoard of positive superhero toys for girls, but more than that, Black Widow is finally getting her due. Is this because of the upcoming appearance of Wonder Woman in the Batman/Superman movie? Does Marvel finally see that DC might have the beat in terms of movie merchandise? Because DC hasn’t had much of an issue with making sure WW makes her presence known in toy aisles. Of course, WW is a much more well-known and established character in the minds of young girls/grown woman. Hard to say, but regardless, accordion to Black Widow will be “dominating” the toy markets with the release of the newest Marvel movie monster.

Leading up to the release of last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a controversy started brewing when none of Marvel’s merchandise for the movie featured Scarlett Johansson’s popular character Black Widow. The studioseems to have learned from its past mistakes, with Entertainment Weekly unveiling a slew of new products for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which prominently feature this beloved character. These items even correct a few mistakes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise. –

YAY! The first time I saw Black Widow I was impressed with her general bad-assery and I was totally confused by her lack of presence for toys. Newsflash world, little girls like to play with toys based on their role models! Sure, I enjoyed playing with the “boy” toys all the time, Han Solo was one of my fave’s from Star Wars and I preferred some He-Man characters over my She-Ra dolls (but She-Ra toys really did rock, again, where did those go???? I’d almost kill to have them back!). I don’t believe that toys need to be segregated into boy and girl toys, I think they should just be TOYS. Some girls like to play with cars and swords, some boys like to play with Barbie, nothing should be taboo and it would be great to see all stores adopt the toy aisle idea, rather than splitting them between the sexes.

Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of "Captain America: Civil War", a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.
Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of “Captain America: Civil War”, a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.

Regardless, I am also impressed with Target’s newest line of toys, from DC Comics we have a pretty awesome line of female superhero toys. They range from Batgirl to Harley Quinn but I have ONE issue with them, in every description it says, “DC Hero Girls Action Figure” – leave off the girls and it would be perfection I say, but even that’s nit-picking. These toys are kind of amazing and I would totally want these if I was a kid (I kind of want them as an “adult)!

Target's newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!
Target’s newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!

I am happy to see that even in the short time I’ve been writing this blog, that positive changes like this are happening in the toy world. Those marketing people are starting to see that woman/girls/ladies do in fact like toys, they buy them, they collect them and it is more then appropriate that they become a part of the marketing machine of the big comic blockbusters coming up this year.

Change is slow but it IS happening.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go play with my toys.

Did you have a favorite toy as a child? What do you think of Target’s new line of Superhero toys? Sound off about toys in the comments section!

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The Female Perspective: Erick Larsen and Too Many Clothes…A Story That Makes Me Go…Huh?

Welcome! This is a Tri-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!

There is some debate going on in the comic book world today about comments made by renowned artist Erik Larsen. Larsen went to Twitter recently to declare that he thinks that female superhero’s today are wearing “unflattering” or “bulky” costumes. Basically saying that he thinks they are wearing too many clothes.

Yes, you read that correctly. They wear TOO MANY clothes. Read on for Larsen’s comments.

Larsen1 Larsen2 Larsen3 Larsen4 Larsen5 Larsen6

Larsen7 Larsen8

Mr. Larsen may be a great artist and comic creator, I won’t deny his legacy in that regard, but to go around spouting this type of contradictory nonsense is not only asinine but it is counter-productive to all that women in the comics industry (and beyond) are trying to achieve. Women in comics can wear clothes and still be powerful, attractive and strong. He complains that Spider-Woman and Batgirl are already covered so they don’t need more clothing. He also goes on to state that their costumes are cumbersome and unflattering. Let’s take a look, shall we?



Hmmmm…I don’t know about you but I don’t see anything wrong with either costume. They are bad-ass and don’t seem to be interfering with the action. I refuse to discuss whether their costumes are “flattering” or not – that’s sexist insanity since we don’t discuss that when it comes to male superhero’s.

Also, Larsen manages to contradict himself pretty well. He complains that these aren’t real characters and shouldn’t be drawn that way and yet then goes on to list all the reasons their outfits would get in the way of their abilities. Huh? It’s a comic book and is therefore granted a certain amount of leeway but at the same time, we want the kids who read these books to realize that women (and men) should not be created in stereotypical ways. I don’t want my superhero’s to look like me but I also don’t hover under the delusion that real people without abilities can look this way. The fact is, I’m an adult and so many young kids don’t have the same life experience and knowledge that I do, they often grow up thinking that men and women can and should look this way and that if they don’t, they’re failures. There has to be a healthy dose of reality mixed in with the fantasy.

Finally, Larsen spends some time criticizing Ms. Marvel’s costume, now, while I haven’t read the Ms. Marvel comics, I am to understand that she is a teenager. To me, her costume seems appropriate for that age but what Mr. Larsen seems to want is for her to be half-naked. Seriously? I don’t care how amazing you are in your field but to complain that a teenage character is too covered up, even in a comic, is pushing things too far.

She's a TEENAGER Larsen. Get a grip.
She’s a TEENAGER Larsen. Get a grip.

It’s been said many times before and will most likely keep being said but the fact is, women in comics are drawn overly sexy. Plain and simple. It needs to change to encompass more diversity in body types, styles and personality. While the “big two” take small steps in that direction, there always seem to be people who speak out against creating women in more realistic (but still heroic) ways. There is nothing wrong with our super ladies being a bit more covered up, it doesn’t make them any less bad-ass.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I honor that for Larsen. I do not respect his thoughts and I do not agree with them. I think his thinking is the “old thinking” in the comics world and it needs to be eradicated. We need more thinkers who realize that both men and women in comics can be drawn with clothes on and as powerful, brave and heroic.

What do YOU think!?!? Does Larsen have a point or is he way off base? Tell me in the comments!