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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 4/27/2016

Hey gang, and welcome back to another episode of the crank file, where we crank harder so that you don’t have to. Busy week this week so we’ll forgo the national anthem and get down to it. RIP Prince, you played a mean guitar.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:


The Top of the Pile: Batman #51



Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo

What it is: Batman has battled everything from the Court of Owls to Mr. Bloom to the Joker, but how does he handle a quiet night in Gotham City…?

Why we love it: I’ll be looking forward to Snyder’s All-Star Batman as well as seeing rising star Tom King carry the torch after Rebirth. But before that, one last issue with Snyder and Capullo as they wrap a bow on their unforgettable run. This was the perfect creative team for Batman and we were so fortunate to have experienced this journey with them. Thanks for all the amazing stories fellas.


The Mainstream One: Juistice League #49



Publisher: DC
Words: Geoff Johns
Art: Jason Fabok

What it is: In this, the penultimate chapter of the critically-acclaimed epic ‘Darkseid War,’ the fate of the Justice League and the entire universe is on the line! But can even the combined might of the Justice Gods contend with the secret machinations of Grail, the deadly daughter of Darkseid? Death, rebirth and the life of one of the members of the League changed forever!

Why we like it: Did you notice the wording in the last sentence? I don’t think it is any coincidence that Darkseid Wars is being written by the same man orchestrating DC’s line-wide reboot. I’m only speculating that this will eventually tie in with Rebirth but regardless, Darkseid Wars has been a thrilling read and reminds us just how much fun a DC comic can be.


The Indie One: Saga #36



Publisher: Image
Words: Brian K Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples

What it is: Freedom…?

Why we like it: Saga’s been back with this new prison break arc that has been absolutely insane. I say it every month but, best comic on the stands today. Saga only misses out on the top spot because of the milestone importance of Batman #51. If you haven’t read Saga yet, pick up volume #1 the next time you are in a bookstore. Only ten dollars to change your life.


The #1: 4 Kids Walk into a Bank


4K 1

Publisher: Black Mask
Words: Matt Rosenberg
Art: Tyler Boss

What it is: A fun(ish) crime caper about children! Eleven-year-old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad’s help on a heist… the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she’s going to have to pull off the heist herself. Like Wes Anderson remaking Reservoir Dogs, 4KWIAB is a very dark & moderately humorous story about friendship, growing up, D & D, puking, skinheads, grand larceny, and family.

Why we like it: You may remember seeing this book on here last week. That was because it was solicited for April 20, but the actual release date is on this Wednesday, 4/27. I heard that some shops didn’t receive copies last week. Some shops received them but opted not to put them out until this week. Fortunately for me, one of my local shops did have them out for sale and I had an absolute ball with this first issue. It’s funny and dorky and unquestionably cool. Black Mask is back! Let’s hope they stick around for a while.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Daredevil #6



Publisher: Marvel
Words: Charles Soule
Art: Ron Garney
Cover Art: Bill Sienkiewicz

What it is: Hell’s Kitchen knows no fury like an assassin scorned. Though Matt Murdock has somehow managed to hide his identity from the entire world, there are parts of his past he cannot escape. Elektra Natchios, is back in the Big Apple and she’s got a score to settle with The Man Without Fear!

Why we like it: Sienkiewicz is one of the great comic books artists and he’s aging like fine wine. His style has evolved over the years but his artwork remains visually striking and instantly recognizable. Love this cover.


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

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The Female Perspective: Ladies Are Taking Care of Business…

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 thought about writing about Daredevil season 2 and how amazing the women are in that show but then I started thinking in a slightly broader sense. As I was binge watching season 2 with my man I realized that in the Marvel film and TV universe, they are writing exceptional women. Women who fight, who love and who do not apologize for being tough and brave, but who are also feminine and have their weak moments as well.

It’s bloody brilliant.

Elektra stands on her own (and apart) from her male counterparts in "Daredevil" season 2.
Elektra stands on her own (and apart) from her male counterparts in “Daredevil” season 2.

I am obviously a huge fan of the Marvel Universe that’s being created but I didn’t stop to really think of why, beyond the flash and fun of course, and now I realize it’s because in pretty much ever movie or TV show I’ve watched the women are bad ass, in the most wonderful way. This is feminism at work, this is equality at work and it’s wonderful to see. Today young girls have the option of so many female role models from Black Widow to Supergirl to Agent May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and so many more that’s actually quite staggering. Even on a show like Daredevil the character of Elektra had the potential to be overshadowed by the “big boys” like Punisher and Daredevil himself, but she didn’t, she had her own storyline, her own struggles, her own power. Karen Page, a normal human by all accounts, finds her way in the world, finds her purpose and doesn’t ever become meek or fragile, even when kidnapped and fearful of her life, she manages to use her head and even though she doesn’t technically save the day, she manages to keep herself alive and guess what? She doesn’t fall apart in a sobbing pile in a man’s arms after. She picks herself up and keeps going. Elektra and Karen were essential to this season of Daredevil and that makes my feminist heart flutter with joy.

To me that’s how women should be written for TV or film. As women who can fight for their life when they need to, who can keep their heads in terrifying situations and who can rebound after those situations and keep going, keep fighting. They don’t run to the nearest man for love and/or sex and/or comforting, they comfort themselves and get going. They take care of business.

Frankly, that’s how the women I know in real life act. Of course, none of them have been kidnapped by madmen (thank God), but we have all had stressful situations in our life. We crumble, we fight, we cry, we get back up. That’s how you do it and it’s about damn time that TV and film catch onto that.

It’s been a gradual shift and Marvel is not the only one doing it by any means. If we look at Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Katniss from The Hunger Games (not a fave of mine but I know a strong lady when I see one) or one of my favorites, Black Widow from The Avengers and Captain America. What I love about Black Widow is that she is evolving, we first see her in Iron Man 2 and she is a sexy lady who turns out can fight circles around the men. Then we start to see her in other Marvel films and she starts to become a person, not just a fighter and a solider, but a person. In Age of Ultron she speaks about feeling like a monster for what she has done, for what has been done to her and when faced with the choice of fighting or running away with Bruce, she chooses to fight, because that’s what has to be done. She sacrifices her happiness for the greater good and hopefully you all know some women like that in your lives, I know I certainly do.

Black Widow doesn't apologize for who she is, it weighs heavily upon her, but she keeps on going, carrying that load.
Black Widow doesn’t apologize for who she is, it weighs heavily upon her, but she keeps on going, carrying that load.

The fact is, women are smart, sexy, tough and wonderful (as are men), and what makes me truly happy is to see that finally reflected in popular fiction on TV and in movies. I have high hopes for this weekends big release Batman v. Superman, not because of Batman or Superman, but because of Wonder Woman. FINALLY we get to see her in action and I for one, am extremely hopeful that WW takes after all the women before her and comes off as tough but feminine in the best ways possible.

What I am really digging is that while the costumes are tight fitting and all that, they aren’t slutty or offensive, they make sense for the character and (unlike what so often happens in comics) they are both sensible and sexy, a wonderful combination because when we see young girls cosplaying their favorites, we don’t have to sensor it because hey, it’s long pants and sleeves with a high neckline, fabulous! It makes me proud to be able to witness a time when characters like Agent Peggy Carter and Daisy from S.H.I.E.L.D move flawlessly from being powerful and brave, to being confused and/or uncertain and back again. These are flawed women, beautifully flawed women that aren’t taken advantage of. They stand toe-to-toe with the male characters and sometimes, they end up saving them.

"Don't worry fellas, I'll protect you." - Wonder Woman
“Don’t worry fellas, I’ll protect you.” – Wonder Woman

It’s a wonderful thing to witness, and with so much going on today that is stressful, sad or troubling, it’s truly heartening to be able to see women gaining so much ground, even if it is in a fictional sense. Here’s hoping that one day soon, it will start to really, truly happen in the “real” world.

How about YOU? What female character do you love that’s on TV or in film nowadays? Sound off in the comments and tell me why you love her!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/2/2015

Welcome back comic book fans, for another helping of the Crank File. It’s the week after Thanksgiving folks and if you were like me, you emerged from your food induced coma just long enough to snag some sweet deals over the weekend. This past Saturday was also Local Comic Shop Day, and I was fortunate enough to have one the shops in my area participating. And then it was Cyber Monday. It was an embarrassment of riches, or brokeness as it were, and there’s still the North East Comic Con coming up this weekend where I plan to meet George Perez and have him to sign some books. To cap it all off, it’s shaping up to be an unexpectedly huge week for new books. So take a deep breath, close your eyes and don’t think about next month’s credit card statement. ‘Tis the season.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:


The Top of the Pile: We Can Never Go Home #5



Publisher: Black Mask
Words: Patrick Kindlon
Art: Josh Hood

All roads end.

We Can Never Go Home is not only the hottest indie comic at the moment, it could be the best comic series of 2015, period. The popularity of this series alone has carved out a spot on comic shop shelves for Black Mask books. Originally only given a five issue mini-series, WCNGH has been extended to an ongoing because the fans demanded it. Pay close attention here, we’re witnessing comic history.


The Mainstream One: Totally Awesome Hulk #1 Woo Chul Lee variant



Publisher: Marvel
Words: Greg Pak
Art: Frank Cho

There’s a brand new Hulk in town, and his name is Amadeus Cho! Get ready for the craziest Hulk story of the millennium as a kid genius decides he’s gonna be the best Hulk ever — and just possibly brings the entire Marvel Universe crashing down into chaos! Totally awesome beach day! Massive monster mayhem! She-Hulk and Lady Hellbender! Massive heart and ridiculous action brought to you by Planet Hulk writer Greg Pak and superstar artist Frank Cho! Is it possible for us to fit in one more exclamation point? YES!

I want so badly for this character to be good. When I first heard who the creative team was behind the relaunch of Hulk in the new Marvel universe, I was delighted. Greg Pak wrote the classic Hulk tale, Planet Hulk, and Frank Cho’s art is outrageous. When I learned that Hulk was going to be Asian, I was pretty much over the moon. When I saw Hulk’s faux-hawk and read “Totally Awesome” in the title, doubts started creeping in. Hulk conflicted…


The Indie One: X’ed #1



Publisher: Black Mask
Words: Tony Patrick
Art: Ayhan Hayarula

A sci-fi thriller about a next-gen form of psychiatry: ‘subliminal hitmen’ injected into your mind who hunt down and kill the demons that haunt you. Ex-military sharpshooter Colin McClure is Mezign Corporation’s most recent recruit for the still-experimental (and often deadly) job of subliminal hitman. McClure is the perfect candidate for two reasons: a) he’s a killing machine, and b) he lost his legs in the war, so subliminal-ops are his only way to see any action. But he’s also a dangerous candidate for one reason unknown to Mezign: Colin’s true motive is to enter the mind of his catatonic daughter and bring her out of a coma.

I’m still waiting for the next big thing from those wizards over at Black Mask studios. Could it be X’ed? The premise sounds absolutely bizarre. You know a story is bonkers when they have to break the synopsis out into bullet points. The preview looked interesting enough and right now I’m picking up every Black Mask #1 that comes out.


The #1 One: Robin Wars #1



Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Khary Randolph

In part 1 of this new epic, it’s Robins vs. cops! Robins vs. Robins! Robins vs. Batman! And Robins vs. the Court of Owls?! Damian Wayne returns to Gotham City, and he is not happy. There are kids all over the city calling themselves Robin, Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and the GCPD, led by the new, armored-up Batman, is cracking down on anybody wearing the ‘R.’ And things only get worse when Red Hood, Red Robin and Grayson all come back to Gotham City…

In the Batman hierarchy, it goes Batman, Joker and then Robin. In the New 52 continuity where Batman has amnesia and Joker is “dead”, the Robins are stepping up and running the town. Strange things are going down in Gotham. I’m hoping that this Robin Wars event will eventually tie into Bruce Wayne getting back under the cowl.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Harley’s Little Black Book #1 J. Scott Campbell variant


Publisher: DC
Words and Art: Amanda Conner

It’s the sensational debut of a bimonthly, overstuffed, oversized team-up series in which Harley meets (and almost certainly annoys) the greatest heroes and villains of the DC Universe! First up? The incredible Wonder Woman! There’s a plot to assassinate Wondy, and Harley is convinced that only she could possibly stop it! (Hey, you want to tell her about all the other options? We tried.) This issue features open-to-order variant covers by J. Scott Campbell that will be shipped in opaque polybags.

Taking a page out of the Sex Criminals playbook, Harley’s Little Black Book will feature a variant version that comes sealed in an opaque polybag.  Each bagged copy will contain one of three versions of the variant cover: a regular color version, a black and white ink variant or a blue-line sketch variant. Campbell draws some of the hottest women in comics today and I don’t believe he’s ever done a Harley cover before. This one is a beauty.


The Speculation One: Daredevil #1



Publisher: Marvel
Words: Charles Soule
Art: Ron Garney

Back in black and on his home turf, Daredevil begins again in New York City as a new enemy emerges. Meanwhile his alter ego, Matt Murdock, is on a new side of the law in the District Attorney’s office. Fighting crime in the shadows, prosecuting bad guys in the light, it’s a whole new chapter for our man without fear-including the arrival of the devil’s advocate. Welcome to Hell, Blindspot.

Charles Soule is an immensely talented writer and I have high hopes for his Daredevil run. Daredevil is already super popular due to the success of his Netflix series, but I think that this book could have spec potential because it features the first appearance of a new villain, Blindspot, aka Samuel Chun, who also happens to be featured prominently on the regular cover. I rest my case.


Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: Book vs. Movie, Why Are Some Adaptations So Bad and Does It Matter?

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!

Turning books, graphic novels or comics into movies is nothing new. We see it all the time (because Hollyweird can’t seem to come up with their own ideas these days) and what continually fascinates me is the fact that people get hung up on details that aren’t translated “correctly”. Take, for example, “The Hunger Games” – I remember hearing people complain that the cat was the wrong color. I also heard recently that someone was disgruntled with “Daredevil” because Matt Murdock wasn’t a ginger and that Kingpin wasn’t “big enough”. These types of complaints are the norm when adaptations happen. The fact is, there is no adaptation that will ever satisfy everyone. That being said, I also think that people need to relax a bit.

Daredevil is available now on Netflix. It's well worth the watch!
Daredevil is available now on Netflix. It’s well worth the watch!

This is in no way a judgement on people being upset that something they loved wasn’t translated word for word. I know their pain, there have been plenty of adaptations that have broken my heart for taking something that seems important to me and completely omitting it or ignoring it in the adaptation.

So what’s the solution?

There really isn’t one, what I’ve found is that I go into these adaptations with an open mind and low expectations. I try not to hope too much that they’ll translate it word-for-word. I go in knowing that there will be changes and I may hate them. I mean, take a look “World War Z” – it’s this fantastic book that’s an oral history of the Zombie outbreak. It’s broken up into chapters about different people’s struggles before, during and after the outbreak. It’s a brilliant novel and I was psyched to see the movie. Then I saw the movie…the only similarity between the movie and the book is the title. I quickly realized this and let go of my expectations and allowed myself to just enjoy the action/adventure film they had turned it into. Was I 100% pleased? No. Did I manage to enjoy it? Yes. Do I hope they never do it again? Uh, yeah. Please don’t get my hopes up again!

Movie and Book could not have been more different. A disappointment but not the worst by far.
Movie and Book could not have been more different. A disappointment but not the worst by far.

This doesn’t always happen of course, sometimes I come out of the movie royally peeved off that the directors and screenwriters did a horrible job – didn’t they have any respect for the source material??? No other place is this easier to see than in the many, MANY poorly done Stephen King adaptations. I personally loved “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Carrie” and “The Mist” but I was really disappointed in “The Stand” TV series (it does not hold up after all these years) and the remake of “Carrie” was a disaster.

The remake of "Carrie" was horrid, especially when compared to the horror masterpiece of the original.
The remake of “Carrie” was horrid, especially when compared to the horror masterpiece of the original.

The fact is, we all know that there are bigger issues at hand but the thing about entertainment is that it makes us forget the stress of our lives, the problems in the world (and the upcoming Presidential election…more on that later this week) and to be disappointed by our entertainment is a weirdly devastating blow. We want to be taken away and left feeling happy! Movie studios just don’t care about the fans of the source material, they want to create a movie that makes money and appeals to a large quantity of people.

I want to hope that upcoming adaptations, such as “The Dark Tower” series that’s been rumored, “The Stand” movie series and the many other upcoming adaptations on their way satisfy the fans and the masses. That might be a bit too much to hope for though. Oh well, my fingers are crossed!


What was your least favorite adaptation? What was your favorite? Let me know!