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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – 6/14/2017

Hey there comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. The Bat Family lost one of it’s most iconic members last week. RIP Mayor Adam West. You may be gone, but the Batsui will live on.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

vdc

The Top of the Pile: Vision Director’s Cut

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

What it is: One of the most surprising super-hero stories ever told, now better than ever! Experience Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s masterpiece…re-presented with bonus behind-the-scenes content! Behold the Visions! They’re the family next door, and they have the power to kill us all. What could possibly go wrong? Collecting VISION (2015) #1-2, plus extras — including Tom King’s original series pitch, script excerpts, character designs and sketches by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, cover sketches by Mike del Mundo and more.

Why we love it: Vision was unlike any other Marvel story told before and will serve as the high water mark for all comics to come. I’m definitely down to watch how that sausage gets made.

 SE4

The Mainstream One: Secret Empire #4

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Nick Spencer
Art: Leinil Francis Yu

What it is: There is a power that can either save the world or doom it! Both Steve Rogers and the heroes arrayed against him need this power! But unfortunately for all of them, the key to possessing this power lies in the hands of the unstoppable Ultron! LIVE IN X-CITING TIMES! SECRET EMPIRE! Rated T+

Why we like it: For those of you who came over to comics from the movies, there’s a story about the Ultron-borg looking fella on the cover. In Marvel comics continuity Ultron was created, not by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but by legacy Avenger Hank Pym. Hank’s has worn a lot of titles during his career, including Ant Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellow Jacket and Wasp. And at one point Ultron and Hank Pym fused their biological and technological selves, body and mind, creating the monstrosity that stands here before us today. Apparently he’s in possession of a shard of the cosmic cubic. Could Ultron be the key to ending Secret Empire? More importantly, what’s up with that second Steve Rogers??

 

MD29

The Indie One: Manifest Destiny #29 (Spawn month variant)

Publisher: Image
Words: Chris Dingess 
Art: Matthew Roberts

What it is: A new kind of monster emerges from the fog as an unsavory finally makes his move against his enemy.

Why we like it: See more at: https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/manifest-destiny-29#sthash.qME9ATBz.dpuf

 DDTF1

The #1 One: Dark Days The Forge

Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder, James Tynion III
Art: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr.

What it is: DARKNESS COMES TO THE DC UNIVERSE WITH THE MYSTERY OF THE FORGE! Aquaman, The Flash and more of DC’s pantheon of heroes suspect Batman of hiding a dark secret that could threaten the very existence of the multiverse! It’s an epic that will span generations-but how does it connect to the origins of one of DC’s most legendary heroes? The great comics event of summer 2017 is about to begin courtesy of superstar writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion III and illustrated by a master class of comics artists: Andy Kubert, Jim Lee and John Romita Jr.! You do not want to miss this one! RATED T

Why we like it: This is the prelude to Batman Metal, the hugely anticipated reunion of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on Batman. There will be two Dark Days primer books, The Forge and The Casting, and they feature some of the best talent to ever grace the pages of Batman. And John Romita Jr.

 v151

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Venom #151 (Mattina variant)

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Mike Costa
Art: Gerardo Sandoval
Cover Art: Francesco Mattina

What it is: “THE LAND BEFORE CRIME” Starts Here! Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote have been reunited at last – and their hatred of Spider-Man is greater than ever! While hunting the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, Venom comes face-to-face with none other than STEGRON THE DINOSAUR MAN! Can Venom postpone feasting on Spider-Man’s brain long enough to stop Stegron from turning everyone in New York into a bloodthirsty dinosaur?!

Why we like it: To buy, or not to buy. Is that even a question? A little Shakespearean humor there. Brill.

 

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 10/26/2016

Happy Halloween comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. The comic book world mourns the loss of Steve Dillon this week. Dillon was co-creator and artist on the seminal Vertigo series Preacher and is known for his work on Hellblazer and Punisher. His uncanny ability to capture expression and lead the reader’s eye placed Dillon among the great visual storytellers of our generation. He was one of the good guys, in a world with way too many of the bad.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

S39

The Top of the Pile: Saga #39

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

What it is: ‘THE WAR FOR PHANG,’ Part Three New allies join the battle, but so do deadly new enemies.

Why we love it: Early on in Saga, Hazel made the observation that in war there is always collateral damage. Acceptable losses. The War for Phang took one of my favorite characters last issue and this one really stung. Things had been going too well for Alana, Marko and Hazel for too long and tragedy was inevitable.

 

V12

The Mainstream one: Vision #12

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Tom King
Art: Mike Del Mundo

What it is: A while ago, a robot created a family. And all was good. For a while. Then came the murders. The lies. The betrayals. The battles fought. The battles lost. The family lost. And now, at the end, Vision stands alone. He must decide how he will go on, if he will go on, if he can go on. And that decision will shape the Marvel Universe for quite a while. The epic, stunning conclusion to the most highly praised series of the year. Simply put, this is the issue everyone will be talking about.

Why we like it: King’s macabre Vision comes to a conclusion this week and all’s that is left to do is sweep up the ashes. Vision has been devastating, haunting and most surprisingly, incredibly human. I’m sad to see it wrap after only 12 issues, but considering how radically different in tone and story Vision is from other Marvel titles I’m truly thankful that we got this series at all.

 

StE2

The Indie One: Seven to Eternity #2

Publisher: Image
Words: Rick Remender
Art: Jerome Opena

What it is: Now face to face with the God of Whispers, enslaver of worlds, all that stands between Adam Osidis and his heart’s every desire is one simple compromise, to bend the knee.

Why we like it: Looks like Remender and Opena have another hit on their hands. I had high expectations for the story since it was a Remender comic, but I was absolutely floored by Opena’s artwork. Issue #1 was awesome and all 4 covers are selling above cover price. I’m expecting lots of interest in issue #2.

 

SH1

The #1 One: Spookhouse #1

Publisher: Albatross
Words and Art: Eric Powell

What it is: Eric Powell presents the first issue of an all new anthology series of scary camp fire tales for kids!

Why we like it: Eric Powell lend’s his unique style to a collection of stories from his independent label about the things that go bump in the night. I’m expecting some good fun and a Halloween scare.

 

WW17

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Wayward #17

Publisher: Image
Words: Jim Zub
Art: Steve Cummings
Cover art: Sana Takeda

What it is: Back in Japan, the aftermath of the battle and the treacherous road ahead.

Why we like it: You may recognize Sana Takeda’s art from her work on Image’s Monstress. She definitely draws inspiration from manga, but I feel like her use of colors and patterns make her style distinct. I would love to see her work on more titles.

 

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

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The Female Perspective: Character Drama In Adaptations

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


This week there have been a few bits of information regarding the re-casting of comic book characters. One is that the new female Iron Man will be called Ironheart and the other is that Zendaya will supposedly be playing Mary Jane in Spiderman: Homecoming. In all honestly, I am not overly concerned with the re-casting of characters in terms of race of sex. If they can portray or tell good story, then their skin color and sex shouldn’t matter one bit.

The sad thing is, it seems to matter to quite a few people, I’m sorry, trolls.

When I was checking out the story about Zendaya playing Mary Jane the comments that ran along with the story were what interested me more than the actual story (I really have no clue who Zendaya is, nor do I care to find out and I am not a Spiderman fan in the least). The fact is that Zendaya is the daughter of an African-American father and a white mother, and she is playing a character that has always been portrayed as pale skinned with red hair. So you can imagine the derogatory comments and accusations of racism that have abounded alongside the announcement, many of them I cannot print here.

Where it gets murky is when people start covering their racism by saying they want these characters to be “portrayed in their true form” on screen.

Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart leaves you realizing that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.
Food For Thought: Comparing Zendaya, Dunst and their comic book counterpart you realize that actually, Zendaya looks more like Mary Jane than Dunst did.

Is that racism masquerading as fandom or is it just simple fandom? It’s a question I don’t know the answer to and honestly, in the current cultural climate, I think casting a woman of mixed race as a character who is known to be pale skinned with red hair is perfectly fine. What matters in the end is the performance,  not the skin color.

Where I get annoyed (and hang in here with me, it gets confusing) is when those same people that got mad over changing Mary Jane, then get mad when others get mad over white people playing Egyptian or Asian roles. I’ve seen those same people who pitched a fit over Mary Jane go on and on about how race doesn’t matter. Argh! Pick a side of the debate and stick to it people!

Where is the line where it becomes okay to hate on casting because of skin color or sex? The answer to that one is it’s never okay, but in a world constantly on edge, it’s very difficult to say or do the right thing, no matter what side of the debate you’re on.

I’m not a racist fanboy, but I want to see a white Mary Jane, like comic books, the same happen[ed] in The Flash (Iris West) and Supergirl (James Olsen). What happens if there was the other way? If they put a white Black Panther?

Junior Sara on Facebook

When you have to start a comment with “I’m not racist”, then you need to stop typing or speaking right away because the chances of you saying something intelligent after are pretty much zero. The fact is this (poorly worded) comment stuck out to me (among others I cannot put in this blog) because this is really comparing apples to oranges. The character of Mary Jane is not rooted in her cultural identity, Black Panther is. He is the leader of an African tribe, he is the first black superhero–changing him from African-American to white would be a comic book catastrophe, not to mention hugely insulting to the characters legacy and backstory.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, while I am a fan of comics, I love books even more and when I see a movie based on a beloved book, I want the characters to make sense. I want to see the character I always imagined on screen, but the simple fact is, the people making the movie are not seeing the same thing I am!  A recent example of that is Idris Elba being cast as The Gunslinger in the upcoming gunslinger movie. I was PSYCHED they picked Elba, but many, MANY people were upset. They had always seen Roland as a white man, a Clint Eastwood type, and if this movie was being made 30-40 years ago, yeah Eastwood would be great. But it’s not being made in the long ago, and honestly I think that Elba will do a phenomenal job at it. He has that broody, quiet thing down pat and it’s going to be a blast seeing him on screen playing one of Stephen King’s best characters. In the end for me it comes down to character portrayal, writing and directing. I do not care one whit what color or sex they are.

Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!
Does Elba look exactly like the Gunslinger? No. But is he going to be amazing? I think so!

The fact is, what I see time and time again online is people that are unhappy. People who don’t have the faintest idea what it takes to make a movie, especially one that they are adapting from beloved source material. Same thing with comics, when writers and artists and studios want to revamp a character (Like making Thor into a female) it throws people off, we are creatures of habit (and some of us are racist, sexist jerk-heads) and as many have stated, we want to see the characters we loved stay the same, to be on screen looking the same as the writer described.

As a writer, I can think of nothing more exciting then having one of my books made into a movie. I also know that I would really want nothing to do with it because I would become endlessly frustrated. I have a vision for my characters and story that someone else might not have. I am also completely unbiased and would not be able to make the hard choices of what gets cut and doesn’t get cut. That being said, would I care if they changed the ethnicity of a character or turned a she into a he or a he into a she? If it served the story, I wouldn’t care one bit.

Art is a fluid, always moving aesthetic. One person’s vision is not the same as another persons. We have to learn to not get stuck in the rut of expectation. Instead we can feel shocked, dismayed or disappointed (I felt all those things when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, but you  know what? He did a killer job) and then we have to move the heck on because guess what folks? It’s only a movie. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it, don’t buy it, don’t read about it. Just live your life as if this stuff doesn’t really matter because it really doesn’t. Enjoy the parts of an artistic vision that you can, be wowed by it, love it and let that be enough. For the stuff that annoys or disappoints, let it go. That won’t help with the racist trolls, but it will help us all get a little less tied up in thinking a character has to look a certain way, because these characters were created out of thin air and therefore, they can look pretty much any way they want.

Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie...
Calm thyself, tis only a wee movie…

What do you think? Are studios using too much “artistic vision” in their character changes? What casting/comic character change has irked you the most or made you the most happy? Sound off in the comments!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 8/10/2016

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File, the only place on the net that quite frankly my dear, doesn’t give a crank. Boston Comic Con is this weekend and while nerds across the start get ready for the ball, the big story this week is that my home has been invaded by flies. Fruit flies mostly, and a lot of them. Like an insane amount. Fortunately in my hour of desperation, the internet, as it always does, delivered salvation. Apparently all it takes to trap a ton of fruit flies is a used lemon wedge, a paper cup, saran wrap and a rubber band. For a species so proficient at multiplying, they sure aren’t very smart.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

 

V10

The Top of the Pile: Vision #10

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

What it is: Tragedy has come to the Vision family. While those around him mourn, Vision plans for revenge, a revenge that will send him into a deadly confrontation with the heroes of the Marvel Universe. As the saga of Vision and his family draws closer to its world-shaking conclusion, don’t miss out on the series everyone is talking about!

Why we love it: If you didn’t see this pick coming then you haven’t been paying close attention. Only 3-issues left and you know that things don’t end well for the Visions. Vision has been a sensational ride so far and I really hope it sticks the landing. Tom King’s 12-issue run could go down as one of the most important comics written in this generation.

 

NSM2

The Mainstream one: New Super-man #2

Publisher: DC
Words: Gene Leun Yang
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic

What it is: ‘Made in China’ part two! The New Super-Man must face off against the Justice League of China. When Kenan Kong was imbued with the powers of Superman, he didn’t waste any time using them! Now it’s up to the New Bat-Man and New Wonder-Woman of his home country to bring our hero back down to earth-just in time to stop the attack of the deadly Sunbeam!

Why we like it: I’m really looking forward to reading this Wednesday. Issue #1 was a good setup issue even before it introduced China’s Batman and Wonder Woman. Issue #2 will mark the first full appearance of the Chinese Trinity, or as I am referring to them as, the Chrinity. But is “New” how DC is going to preface all their Chinese super-heroes? Sort of like how once-upon-a-time every black DC superhero was named “Black” something; Black Lightning, Black Racer, Black Manta, Black Canary (maybe not that last one). Chinese civilization is 4000 years old, there’s nothing new about it.

 

BMM1

The Indie One: The Black Monday Murders #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Tomm Coker

What it is: ‘MAMMON’ ALL HAIL GOD MONEY! A new crypto-noir series about the power of dirty, filthy money and exactly what kind of people you can buy with it. The Black Monday Murders is classic occultism where the various schools of magic are actually clandestine banking cartels who control all of society: a secret world where vampire Russian oligarchs, Black popes, enchanted American aristocrats, and hitmen from the International Monetary Fund work together to keep ALL OF US in our proper place.

Why we like it: I swore to myself that I would never jump on another Hickman indie title at #1 after The Dying and the Dead was abandoned after just 3 sensational issues. I promised that I would trade wait him and make him earn my patronage. But I got half way through the synopsis and knew this was being added to my pull immediately. Damn you, Johnathan Hickman. I wish I knew how to quit you.

 

ASBM1

The #1 One: All Star Bat-man #1 (Jock variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: John Romita

What it is: ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ part one! Superstar writer Scott Snyder explodes into an all-new Batman series alongside legendary artist John Romita Jr., reimagining some of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains. First up: Two-Face! Batman must take Two-Face to a destination out of Gotham City, but the duplicitous villain has a two of spades up his sleeve. Every assassin, bounty hunter and ordinary citizen with something to hide is on their tails with one goal: kill Batman! Handcuffed together on the road to hell, this is Batman and Two-Face as you’ve never seen them before!

Why we like it: The masterful Scott Snyder makes his return to Batman with a dive into the Caped Crusader’s rogue gallery. Two-Face is a classic Bat-villain who never really get much page-time during Snyder’s New 52 run. Looks like he’ll have his turn to shine on Snyder and Romita Jr’s much anticipated debut issue for All-Star Batman. While I’m not the biggest fan of JRJR’s covers, I think he will be effective with his interior artwork. Fortunately there’s an amazing Jock variant which makes this book an insta-pickup.

 

DV24

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Darth Vader #24 (Action figure variant)

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Kieron Gillen
Art: Salvador Larroca
Cover art: John Tyler Christopher

What it is: Vader is lost in his inner mindscape, lost in visions of the Force! Is he truly more machine now than man? Or can he fight his way back from the brink?

Why we like it: Only two issues left in the epic Darth Vader series and it looks as though s for the end. Issue #23 gave us everyone’s favorite homicidal astrodroid, BT-1. This week brings us Bee Tee’s counterpart, the sociopathic protocol droid 0-0-0, or Triple Zero as he’s referred to affectionately by friends.

 

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 7/13/2016

Greetings comic book fans and welcome back to another installment of the Crank File, the only place on the net that is extremely late to pick up their father from the airport. Sorry, no time for love Dr. Jones.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

V9

The top of the Pile: Vision #9

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Cover Art: Mike Del Mundo

What it is: Every family has its share of secrets – skeletons in the closet, kept hidden from the world at large. For the Visions, those secrets are real, actual skeletons. The thing about secrets is they always have a cost, and one of the Visions is going to pay with their life.

Why we love it: You look at that cover and can’t help but think, “well, that can’t be good…” We know that the story will not end well for Vision and his synthezoid family, but the real tragedy is that it ends with issue 12. It’s too bad Tom King is doing an exclusive with DC, because I could have read his Vision run for volumes and volumes. We’re only half-way through the year but I’m calling it, Vision is the best comic of 2016.

 

F2

The Mainstream One: The Flash #2

Publisher: DC
Words: Joshua Williamson
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Cover Art: Karl Kerschl

What it is: In issue #2, The Flash trains novice speedster August Heart to help protect the people of Central City from the Black Hole, a new breed of rogue with a deadly agenda for the Fastest Men Alive.

Why we like it: There’s a new Flash in Central City and he’s buds with the old Flash. I think Flash has been the best book to come out of DC Rebirth so far.

 

H1

The Indie One: Horizon #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Brandon Thomas
Art: Juan Gedeon
Cover Art: Jason Howard

What it is: Zhia Malen thought she’d fought her very last war, until she learned her planet was targeted for occupation by a desperate world called Earth. The people of Earth will be told that her arrival on their planet means invasion; these are lies, this is retaliation. Skybound’s newest original series by BRANDON THOMAS (The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury), JUAN GEDEON (Ghost Racers), and FRANK MARTIN (EAST OF WEST) will show you that survival isn’t just a human instinct.

Why we like it: Because the preview pages look awesome. http://www.comicbookresources.com/prev_img.php?pid=33755&pg=1

 

NSM1

The #1 One: New Super-man #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Gene Luen Yang
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic

What it is: An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. Rising from the ashes of The Final Days of Superman, award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and on-the-rise art star Victor Bogdanovic introduce readers to Kong Kenan-the New Super-Man! When the world needed a new hero, China made him!

Why we like it: I know some people are sour at the recent trend in comics of publishers re-racing their beloved, white characters.  Being of Chinese descent myself, let me say thank you DC. Thank you for bringing another Asian superhero into the DC universe, Cassandra Cain was getting lonely. And cheers for choosing an Asian American to write him.  Jiayou!

 

CW3

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Civil War II #3

Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez
Cover Art: Phil Noto

What it is: Classified!

Why we like it: A potentially huge death is being teased for issue #3. We don’t know who eats the big enchilada, but based on this gorgeous cover by the always amazing Phil Noto, we can deduce that the killer was Hawkeye, in the face, with an arrow.

 

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

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Trailer Snark (Captain America: Civil War Edition)

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!

Editor’s Note: We are foregoing the usual format of this week’s blog, because by and large most movie studios have wisely cleared their release calendar for what could very well be the year’s biggest film. Captain America:  Civil War, the third installment in the Steve Rogers series, and really what amounts to Avengers 3 in terms of the ensemble cast showcases the characters we have come to know and love, under the expert tutelage of the Russo Brothers, who take the reins from Joss Whedon.  The team gives their thoughts below, along with their pledge of allegiance to either Team Cap or Team Iron Man.  Enjoy!

Captain America:  Civil War (Disney) – Action/Adventure
PG-13 for violence and thematic situations
Tag Line:  Whose side are you on?
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Paul Rudd, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, and more.
Plot: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
Running Time:  146 minutes

Thoughts on the trailer…..
Jessica: I am SUPER EXCITED about “Captain America: Civil War”, I think the trailer looks like yet another hit for Marvel and I do really enjoy the Captain’s story as he finds his place in the “new world” after being asleep so long
Chris: The only thing that exceeds the trepidation of watching to of Marvel’s most famous icons draw the battle lines is to see how they can pull it off effectively and leave fans of both sides satisfied.  And from all accounts, this is one for the ages!

Whose Side are They On?
Ken: Team Rogers, no question.  I agree with Chris that these are beings of unimaginable power, capable of massive destruction and as such should be be held accountable. However, I don’t believe the responsibility of policing the gods should be left in the hands of a few, un-elected individuals. Who died and made Iron Man the sheriff of the MCU?  It’s a question of personal freedom vs conformity. Cap is the ultimate soldier, and like a good soldier he fights to protect his country and the government it represents, but he also fights for the guy next to him in the foxhole. He’s fighting for his brother when he believes that his brother is being treated unjustly. Is there a more noble cause? Like Jess, I sincerely doubt that Tony’s motivations for heading up the superhero registration act are entirely altruistic. What eccentric, billionaire wouldn’t want a position of power with near-unlimited resources at his disposal?
Jim: I don’t know what side I’m on. I just want to be entertained.  I just hope that this isn’t the slog that Age of Ultron was and the squalid excuse for a movie that Batman vs. Superman was. If Hollywood’s going to spend truckloads of money on superhero movies, they can at least make them fun and well-made. Here’s hoping.
Jessica: I am completely torn as to what side I want to be on. I see both sides of it but in the end, I think Tony Stark’s militaristic approach is a bit too much and would have to side with the Captain in the end. His heart is in the right place and I think he has the moral compass to do the right thing, whereas Tony Stark’s moral compass is nonexistent and I simply don’t trust him to make a decision that benefits mankind if it gets in the way of his own ambition and brain powers. I think Stark’s biggest fault is thinking he’s always the smartest man in the room. Whether he is or not, he never takes into account the emotional toll his decisions take and that is a big problem in the long run. So yeah, I’m Team Captain America!
Chris: I love Captain America, and I love the idea of Captain America.  In an ideal world, I would be in his camp, and beating my libertarian drum to the max, but the simple fact is that this is an unreal fantasy world where individuals hold more power than one can imagine.  That power unchecked is a threat to all.  As for who they should answer to is a whole other question, but I find myself aligning with Tony Stark on this one.  This is the movies folks and real world politics do not apply.  Team Iron Man

Added to the Ranks of Team Cap:  Ken and Jessica
Added to the Ranks of Team Iron Man:  Chris
Jumping in on the Winning Side at the Last Possible Moment?  Jim

The debate rages on!
The debate rages on!
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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 4/6/2016

Greetings comic book fans and welcome back to the Crank File, the crankiest place on earth. It’s shaping up to be a big week for new comics so let’s dive right in, Louganis style.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Vision #6

V6

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

What it is: The book everyone is talking about. The first arc of this acclaimed series comes to its frightening climax. The bodies will not stay buried. The truth will not remain hidden. And The Vision will never be the same.

Why we love it:  The Vision builds himself a wife and two kids and tries to assimilate them into a quiet suburban town, just like a normal human family, but he can’t escape his violent past or the neighborhood’s fear of his family. Dark, intelligent and idiosyncratic, the Vision is like no other superhero story you’ve seen before.

The Mainstream One: Spider-man #3

SM3

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Brian Bendis
Art: Sarah Pichelli

What it is: Miles finds himself face-to-face with his toughest villain yet- HIS GRANDMOTHER!!! And an Avengers-study session (date?) with Ms. Marvel goes horribly wrong!

Why we like it: Miles Morales allows Marvel to tell contemporary, teen-aged Spider-man stories without having Peter Parker in an alternate universe or making deals with devil. This week Miles teams up with fellow All-New, All-Different Avenger Ms. Marvel to tackle his most frightening foe, homework.

 

The Indie One: Bruce Lee Dragon Rises #1 (Cho variant)

BL1

Publisher: Darby Pop
Words: Jeff Kline
Art: Brandon McKinney

What it is: Bruce Lee never died. And he hasn’t aged. But, Bruce has no idea who he is or why so many ‘thugs’ want a piece of him. Co-written by Bruce’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and ‘Jackie Chan Adventures’ EP Jeff Kline.

Why we like it: Martial artist, philosopher and all-around bad-ass, Bruce Lee has been my hero since grade school. I’ve never cos-played as a superhero but I’ve dressed up as Bruce on three separate Halloweens. He’s as close to a super human as I’ve seen in real life. A double sized issue for only $3.99 and a Frank Cho cover makes this one an easy pick.

 

The #1 One: Black Panther #1 (Ross variant)

BP1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Art: Brian Stelfreeze

What it is: A new era for the Black Panther starts here! Written by MacArthur Genius and National Book Award winner TA-NEHISI COATES (Between the World and Me) and illustrated by living legend BRIAN STELFREEZE, ‘A Nation Under Our Feet’ is a story about dramatic upheaval in Wakanda and the Black Panther’s struggle to do right by his people as their ruler. The indomitable will of Wakanda — the famed African nation known for its vast wealth, advanced technology and warrior traditions — has long been reflected in the will of its monarchs, the Black Panthers. But now the current Black Panther, T’Challa, finds that will tested by a superhuman terrorist group called The People that has sparked a violent uprising among the citizens of Wakanda. T’Challa knows the country must change to survive — the question is, will the Black Panther survive the change?

Why we like it: Black Panther’s popularity has been on the upswing since he began appearing in the Captain America 3: Civil War trailers. Marvel capitalizes on his meteoric rise by giving him his own series with an all-star creative team. A classic Alex Ross cover makes this #1 a must pull.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Scarlet Witch #5

SW5

Publisher: Marvel
Words: James Robinson
Art: Marguerite Sauvage

What it is: Wanda’s journey takes her to Spain! There she finds an old vineyard converted from a haunted church where witches used to be burned at the stake. But to unravel the mystery of the hauntings, she must first fight off the ghosts of the SPANISH INQUISITION!

Why we like it: Cover artist David Aja has been doing amazing, minimalist artwork for the current Scarlet Witch run. This week’s cover is especially dramatic with silhouettes of witches burning at the stake forming Wanda’s cloak. A stunning reminder that sometimes less is actually more.

 

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 3/9/2016

Welcome to another episode of the Crank File, now with 20% more crank per file. Sad news as comic book artist and Massachusetts native son Paul Ryan died this week. Ryan was an absolute beast during the 80’s, penciling flagship Marvel series like the Avengers, the West Coast Avengers, Iron Man and an astonishing five year run on the Fantastic Four. If you read modern age comics during the late eighties slash early nineties, then chances are you are already familiar with his work. You know that Amazing Spider-man issue where Peter and MJ got married? That was Paul Ryan. Although his name is not as widely remembered as other stars from that era, his artwork will be appreciated by comic books fans for generations to come. Paul was only 66 years old.

 

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

The Top of the Pile:  Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4

 

BMTMNT 3

Publisher: DC/IDW

Words: James Tynion IV

Art: Freddie Williams II

What it is: With the possibility existing that they might never get home, the Turtles take up residence at Wayne Manor. Everyone seems to be adapting except for Raphael, who still can’t understand why his friends all trust this Bat-person. So Batman takes the skeptical Turtle on a trip down Crime Alley to tell Raph what led him to don the cape and cowl in the first place.

Why we love it: Gotham has been the perfect stage for introducing the Dark Knight to the comedic stylings of the Ninja Turtles and I’m amazed by how seamlessly the two worlds have blended. This week Bruce tells Raphael how he became the Batman. Batman’s origin story is a crucial part of what makes him tick, but we’ve all heard the story a million times by now. This will be Raph’s first time and he gets to hear Bruce tell it firsthand. That’s top of the pile material.

 

The Mainstream One: Vision #5

v5

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Tom King

Art: Gabriel Hernandez

What it is: The secrets are turning into lies, and the lies are turning into blood. In the midst of this violence, Vision must find the truth of what happened to the Grim Reaper. But when he does, will he protect his family or destroy them? Find out as the story of Vision’s family builds to a breathtaking cliffhanger.

Why we like it: The unexpected hit of Marvel’s relaunch for me has been Vision. This book is a hundred times darker and more insane than anything I could have ever imagined. But most of all, the Vision feels new. It’s so refreshing to read a story that doesn’t feel like it has been done a thousand times before. I feel like this series has the potential to be something really special and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so already.

 

The Indie One: Head Lopper #3

 

HL3

Publisher: Image

Words and Art: Andrew MacLean

What it is: Norgal and Agatha meet fellow adventurer Zhaania while battling a mega-arachnid from Hell.

Why we like it: Set in the world of swords and sorcery, Head Lopper is an adventure comic that follows Norgal, a nomadic warrior who travels the land with the wise-cracking, decapitated head of a witch Agatha and it is just enjoyable as heck. Andrew MacLean has a voice and visual style that is totally unique and wholly his own.  The first two issues were packed with monsters, violence and humor and by the sound of “mega-arachnid from Hell” issue #3 will stay the course.

 

The #1 One: Haunted Mansion #1 (Crosby variant)

 

HM1

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Joshua Willamson

Art: Jorge Coehlo

What it is: WELCOME, FOOLISH MORTALS, TO THE HAUNTED MANSION! It seems that no one lives in the elegant mansion on the hill, but then where’s that creepy organ music coming from? Are the iron gates meant to keep people out, or some things in? Get ready to meet the 999 ghosts of the Haunted Mansion, but be warned, they’re looking for the 1000th! The delightfully chilling Disney attraction comes to (after)life in an all-new story, penned by JOSHUA WILLAMSON with art by JORGE COELHO! Don’t miss the next great Disney Kingdoms adventure, and the most spine-tingling experience you’ll find this side of a Doom Buggy!

Why we like it: The haunted mansion ride is pretty high up on my favorite Disney memories. There’s just something about the strange combination of horror and humor that never fails to put a grin on my face.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Detective Comics #50 (Tony S. Daniel polybag variant)

 

DC50

Publisher: DC

Words:  Peter J. Tomasi

Art: Fernando Pasarin

What it is: Jim Gordon faces his past in this extra-sized conclusion to his most shocking cold case yet. With history itself forcing him to reflect on the last year as Batman, Gordon must make a decision about what his future holds in Gotham City.

Why we like it: Another fantastic Batman vs Superman cover. I love the cartoonish proportions of the figures on this cover.

 

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 2/3/2016

The Top of the Pile: Vision #4

 

v4

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Tom King

Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Just as everything is coming together, everything goes to hell. After finally finding love for The Vision, Virginia must respond to the one person who threatens that love – and her response will shock the Marvel Universe. A not-to-be-missed ending that builds to next issue’s breathtaking climax.

The Vision has been one of Marvel’s most popular super heroes, and like other A-listers from the Silver Age, he is burdened with a complicated history and convoluted cannon. This latest Vision series gets back to the core of who or what the Vision is, a cybernetic super-weapon turned hero who wants to live like a normal person. Tom King’s Vision literally builds himself a family and attempts to settle them down in the peace and quiet of suburbia, but inevitably trouble comes knocking at their door. Now we find out how far the Visions will go to protect their family. A dark and fascinating, suburban horror story, Visions feels like the most all-new, all different series from Marvel’s relaunch.

 

The Mainstream One: Invincible Iron Man #6

 

IIM6

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Brian Bendis

Art: Mike Deodato

‘THE WAR MACHINES’ STARTS NOW! Something is not right in the house of Stark, and Tony must delve into the nooks and crannies of his international organization to find out what. Plus: The first big clues of major things to come in the Marvel Universe! 

Marvel’s teasing their next big event and it seems like it will involve Iron Man and what sounds like a whole squad of Iron Men and Women. MJ officially joined Team Tony last issue and I’m keeping a close eye on that situation. If you remember back in September when Secret Wars Renew Your Vows #5 came out, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the appearance of a certain someone wearing certain armor. The hype quickly died down once readers found out that Renew Your Vows was not carrying over post relaunch, but maybe Marvel was playing the long game. Spider-Gwen and Gwenpool were surprise hits, could Iron Jane be next?

 

The Indie One: Paper Girls #5

 

pg5

Publisher: Image

Words: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Cliff Chang

The first arc of the smash-hit ongoing series concludes with major revelations and another game-changing cliffhanger. MAJOR PLOT POINT Lots of answers to our major mysteries in this issue, as well as a final page that will completely transform the book’s status quo before our series’s first regularly planned hiatus.

This series has been so much fun. Paper Girls has been everything I wanted and nothing that I expected. It’s been one surprise after another. Asides from the crazy, scifi elements, the best thing about Paper Girls is how it honestly captures, for me, what growing up as a child in the 80’s felt like without falling back on tired cliches. There was a multi-page spread in issue #4 where we witness one of the girls, Tiffany,  as her life flashes before her eyes, and it’s just scenes of her on the couch playing Breakout on the Nintendo. I have absolutely no idea how Vaughan plans on topping last month’s cliff-hanger, but I’ll be there when he does.

 

The #1 One: Spider-man #1

 

SM1

Publisher: Marvel

Words: Brian Bendis

Art: Sarah Pichelli

Miles Morales has been doing the super hero thing for a while, now, but after SECRET WARS, he’ll be a full-fledged member of the Marvel Universe. Swinging next to The Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor and the All-New Captain America as a card-carrying member of the Avengers is an adventure, but it’s not all fun and games for New York City’s main Spider-MAN! What happened in the eight month gap? It all starts in SPIDER-MAN #1!

Miles makes his triumphant entrance in the Marvel Prime universe and he’s landed the full-time Spider-man gig. Spider-man was originally a story that was painted with teenage angst. Peter Parker was a kid who got picked on by bullies, was awkward around girls and had everyday problems that all ages could relate to. But he grew up, graduated high school and then college, made a career as a photographer at the Bugle, married MJ then made a deal with the devil to erase his marriage to MJ, and rose to CEO of the multinational Parker Industries. We’ve witnessed a huge evolution in Peter Parker’s character and those just aren’t the kind of plot lines that will hold a teenage audience. Enter Miles Morales with his trusty sidekick Ganke Lee and we’re back in New York’s high school system. Another Marvel series, returning to its core.

The One I’m Buying For the Cover: Detective Comics #49 (Neal Adams variant)

 

DC49

Publisher: DC

Words: Peter J. Tomasi

Art: Fernando Pasarin

Caught up in an cold case from his days on the force, James Gordon grapples with the new freedom he has as Batman to investigate the crimes of Gotham City?and the slippery slope that this freedom can be. Does the system he’s believed in all this time still work? Or is it the only thing he has left to hold on to?

I give DC a lot of credit for their variant incentive program. Their themed variant months have been great. The Harley and Joker months produced some memorable covers, I loved the entire set of Looney Tunes covers, Harley’s Black Books make me feel like Charlie Bucket every time I crack open one of their polybags, and I’ve recently spent hours creating masterpieces out of their adult coloring book covers. These themed variants are fun, they look great, and most importantly they are cover-price.

For the month of February, DC pays homage to the legendary Neal Adams by publishing 25 variant covers drawn by Neal Adams. This month’s variant covers revisit and re-imagine some of the most famous and recognizable covers originally drawn by Adams. The Detective Comics #49 variant is a swipe of the cover to Batman #227, which itself is a swipe of 1939’s Detective Comics #31 drawn by Batman creator Bob Kane.

BM227

 

Carpe Comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 11/04/2015

Welcome back comic fans. Good to have you back for another episode of the Crank File. I hate this time of year. There’s something soul crushing about getting out of the office at 5 pm and not seeing daylight. Lousy farmers. It’s looking like another slow week for new comics but don’t you fret, I’m here to make sure that you get your weekly fix.

 

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

 

The Top of the Pile: Paper Girls #2 Image

 

PG2

Writer: Brian K Vaughan
Art: Cliff Chiang

The hottest new ongoing series of the year continues, as the Paper Girls witness the impossible.

I was completely hooked by what I saw in issue #1. Billed as “War of the Worlds” meets “Stand by Me”, I loved Paper Girl’s 80’s realism, Chiang’s clean, expressive line work and Brian’s masterfully balanced dialogue. Paper Girls delivers issue #2 on Wednesday, make sure to sign up for your subscription. I have the feeling that you won’t want to miss out on this one.

 

The Mainstream One: Uncanny X-Men #600 Marvel

 

XM600

Writer: Brian Bendis
Art: Stuart Immonen, Mahmud Asrar, Kris Anka, Frazer Irving

The final explosive issue in Brian Michael Bendis’ epic X-Men saga! Scott Summers – savior or destroyer? Questions will be answered! The Jean Grey School, the New Xavier School – it’s all going to change. The X-Men are at a crossroads. And not everyone will make it through in one piece.

A milestone issue for my favorite Marvel team, Uncanny X-Men #600 featuring artwork and a bunch of variant covers from some of the best X-lumni to work on the title. Did you know that the X-Men didn’t start using “Uncanny” in their title until issue #114? Throughout issues #94-#111 they were the “All-New, All -Different X-Men”, and for issues #112-#113 they were the “Now on Sale Monthly! X-Men”.

 

The Indie One: Niobe She Is Life #1 Stranger Comics

 

NSL1

Writer: Sebastian A Jones
Art: Ashley A. Woods

A coming of age tale of love, betrayal, and ultimate sacrifice. Niobe Ayutami is an orphaned wild elf teenager and also the would-be savior of the vast and volatile fantasy world of Asunda. She is running from a past where the Devil himself would see her damned… toward an epic future that patiently waits for her to bind nations against the hordes of hell.

Co-written by Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg, there’s already quite a bit of buzz around this book. Some of the best new comics out there right now are coming from small indie publisher and this one is already sold out at the distributor level.

 

The #1 One: Monstress #1 Image

 

M1

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Art: Sana Takeda

Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers, as young Maika risks everything to control her psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, placing her in the center of a devastating war between human and otherworldly forces.

The preview was intriguing and I am really enjoying Takeda’s lavish artwork.I always support Asian creators but Monstress makes it easy with sixty pages of story with no ads for only $4.99.

 

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Vision #1 Marvel

 

V1

Writer: Tom King
Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

The Vision wants to be human, and what’s more human than family? He goes to the laboratory where he was created, where Ultron molded him into a weapon, where he first rebelled against his given destiny, where he first imagined that he could be more, that he could be good, that he could be a man, a normal, ordinary man. And he builds them. A wife, Virginia. Two teenage twins, Viv and Vin. They look like him. They have his powers. They share his grandest ambition or perhaps obsession: the unrelenting need to be ordinary. Behold The Visions! They’re the family next door, and they have the power to kill us all. What could possibly go wrong?

The plotline sounds absolutely ridiculous but I’m digging Del Rey’s Wiz Khalifa cover. Has to be my favorite hip-hop variant so far.

 

The Speculation One: Howard the Duck #1 Marvel

 

HD1

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Joe Quinones

First spectacular issue! A great jumping on point! Sure to go up in value! Don’t miss out on the series everyone is calling ‘Howard the Duck’! The last page will shock you! Nothing will EVER be the same again!

All of the above is true, and I’ll tell you why in one word: Gwenpool. Copies of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2 Gwen-pool variant are currently selling steadily for $20 based on a cover appearance alone. She’s getting her own backup story in Howard the Duck #1. Grab the Ron Lim variant, then sit back and watch the money pile up.

Carpe Comics!