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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – January 3, 2018

Happy new year comic book fans and welcome to the first episode of the 2018 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 #38 (Coipel variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Travis Moore

What it is: “THE ORIGIN OF BRUCE WAYNE”! If Mattie could grow up to be anybody, he’d grow up millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. But what would happen if he was forced to relive the worst tragedy of Bruce’s life and his parents were murdered? Batman’s hunt for the killer puts him face to face with a strange mirror version of his own past.

Why we love it: Tom King’s Batman has surpassed Scott Snyder’s New 52 run in regards to expanding the Batman mythos without breaking the character, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. This week we look at Batman’s origin from a new angle, complete with a new villain. This book has been speculated on heavily and both covers are already sold out at Diamond, however villain first appearances typically don’t do as well as heroes in the secondary market so don’t go nuts trying to secure multiple copies on Wednesday.


The Mainstream One: Batman White Knight #4

Publisher: DC
Words and Art: Sean Murphy

What it is: Jim Gordon and the GCPD are thrown into disarray when Jack Napier leads a show stopping campaign to become councilman of the politically abandoned neighborhood of Backport. Civic backlash brews as Mayor Hill struggles to find creative ways of criminalizing Napier’s democratic aspirations, and Batman’s interference blooms into a liability for the GCPD’s public image. Through it all, the new Joker plots to derail everything-and new secrets about Harley’s past are revealed. RATED T+

Why we like it: There’s a new Joker in town, and it’s the new Harley… Didn’t follow me? Ok, exposition time.  Batman White Knight takes place in an alternate-ish DC Universe where the original Harley Quinn (aka Harleen Quinzel) left the Joker when she realized Joker couldn’t control his obsession with Batman. The Joker was so engrossed with defeating Batman that he didn’t even notice when a woman named Miriam Drews replaced Harleen as the new Harley Quinn. After being reformed through prescription meds, the Joker, now just Jack Napier, is reunited with Harleen Quinzel and the two start a new, normal-ish relationship, while Miriam Drews, furious at the Joker’s betrayal, assumes the mantle of Neo Joker. That’s her on the cover and the book is awesome, so read it.


The Indie One: Walking Dead #175 (Bill Sienkiewicz variant)

Publisher: Image
Words: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard


Why we like it: The Walking Dead shambles on with a new arc, which means new characters will be introduced. While the AMC TV show has lost a bit of its shine in the last few years, the series is still hugely popular. If any of the new characters introduced from this week’s issue appear on the show, you can be certain this comic will be sought after.  There’s an excellent Sienkiewicz variant that I will be on the lookout for come Wednesday.


The #1 One: Batman and the Signal #1 (of 3)

Publisher: DC
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Cully Hamner

What it is: Batman may own the night, but with new villains emerging during the day he needs an ally to defend the city when he can’t. Only one teen is up to the challenge, Duke Thomas. After months of training, he’s ready to step out of the shadow of the bat to become his own kind of hero. Meet Gotham City’s newest protector: The Signal! Spinning out of adventures in ALL-STAR BATMAN and WE ARE ROBIN, comics superstar Scott Snyder and newcomer Tony Patrick take our young hero to new heights in this exciting miniseries with artwork by Cully Hamner.

Why we like it: Duke Thomas has been Batman’s protege for a few years but he’s still figuring out his place in the Batman universe. This week we get Duke headlining what was supposed to be his first, solo mini-series. Even the solicit says that he’s ready to step out of the shadow if the bat, so I don’t understand why the editors at DC still felt it necessary to name the series “Batman and the Signal”.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Black Bolt #9

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Saladin Ahmed
Art: Christian Ward
Cover Art: Christian Ward

What it is: THE MIDNIGHT KING RETURNS TO EARTH PART 2. In an alien prison far from Earth, Black Bolt lost a friend and ally. Such is the life of heroes. But for those left behind, a noble death is little comfort. Far better to seek retribution – and Black Bolt is first in line! But he has more than angry loved ones to worry about. A corrupted version of Steve Rogers imprisoned and tormented his people. Is it time for the Midnight King’s revenge? Rated T+

Why we like it: I don’t know if this was done as an intentional swipe, but definitely getting a Hulk #340 vibe from this cover. Love the details, love the colors and love the composition.


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 – September 6, 2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to another episode of the Crank File. So long summer of 17, we hardly knew ye. I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend. 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 #30

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: Clay Mann

What it is: THE BALLAD OF KITE MAN’ part two! In our second ‘War of Jokes and Riddles’ interlude, it’s the making of a super-villain! He’s been pushed by Batman to snitch on The Joker, and cajoled by The Joker to betray Batman-now, the flunky who would be Kite Man finally snaps. He’s lost everything, and a life of crime is the only way to go.

Why we love it: How does a comic that features D-lister Kite Man make it to the top of the pile? Tom King, that’s how. He’s an absolute master at re-interpreting and revitalizing oddball characters and Batman villains don’t get much weirder than Kite Man. Maybe Crazy Quilt.

  The Mainstream One: Venomverse: War Stories #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words and Art: Various

What it is: Sure, you know about some of the adventures All-New Wolverine, Gwenpool, Ghost Rider, Old Man Logan and Deadpool went on with their symbiotes, but what about the rest?! Featuring a star-studded lineup of creators and characters, including – a VENOMIZED PUNISHER story written and drawn by Declan Shalvey! And the awesome adventures of VENOMIZED ROCKET RACCOON by Magdalene Visaggio!

Why we like it: Can I tell you a secret? I’m not that into this Venomverse event. I’m mostly just in it for the amazing Fracesco Mattina covers. The whole thing feels like a tired, retread of 2014’s Spiderverse event. I wonder whether Marvel is trying to catch lightning in a bottle and hoping that one of these venomized, mash-ups will resonate with fans. That’s why I’m picking War Stories this week over the main Venomverse series. Venomverse War Stories is a collection of shorts that each feature a different, venomized character. If one of those characters hits, we could be looking at an Edge of Spider-verse #2 type issue.

The Indie One: Walking Dead #171

Publisher: Image
Words: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard

What it is: FEAR THE PRINCESS: Who is she, and what does she want?

Why we like it: Walking Dead first appearances typically do well in the after market. If she ends up being a main character in the series, this issue could be sought after down the road. I stopped watching the show years ago but I keep reading the comics because it is still a really, really good read.

  The #1 One: Star Wars: Captain Phasma #1 (Mark Brooks variant)

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Kelly Thompson
Art: Marco Chechetto

What it is: As the excitement ramps up for this December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, come back with us to the final moments of The Force Awakens and the destruction of Starkiller Base to learn the fate of Captain Phasma! Captured by the Resistance and thrown into a garbage masher, we follow the chrome-adorned warrior from the site of the First Order’s biggest defeat to the doorstep of this holiday season’s biggest blockbuster! Written by Kelly Thompson (HAWKEYE, STAR WARS ANNUAL 2016) and drawn by Marco Checchetto (STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE, STAR WARS: SCREAMING CITADEL), Captain Phasma will recondition you to love Star Wars again!

Why we like it: I wasn’t the only one who thought that Captain Phasma was grossly under-utilized in The Force Awakens. Much like Bobba Fett, Captain Phasma showed up with the coolest outfit in the galaxy, spoke a couple of unessential lines before being dumped unceremoniously down a garbage chute. She deserved better, and now she’s getting it. Marco Checchetto is doing the drawing here and he’s quickly become one of my favorite pencilers in the biz. This should give you Star Wars junkies your fix until The Last Jedi drops at the end of the year.

  The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Green Lantern #30 (Brandon Peterson variant)

Publisher: DC
Words: Sam Humphries
Art: Carlo Barberi
Cover Art: Brandon Peterson

What it is: ‘OUT OF TIME’ part five! Jessica, Simon and the first seven bearers of green rings face Volthoom in the past as he holds the Guardians of the Universe hostage. As Lantern after Lanten falls, is there any chance of stopping the First Lantern from rewriting reality?

Why we like it: A lot of great cover art out this week but this cover B variant stood out to me. It looks like something right out of a Tool music video. I wonder if Brandon Peterson is also a fan of Alex Grey.


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

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The Female Perspective: The Walking Dead – Here’s Negan!

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! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

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

We waited for season 7 and we were not disappointed...Well most of us anyway.
We waited for season 7 and we were not disappointed…Well most of us anyway.

This post isn’t so much about feminism in The Walking Dead because I have touched on that before, but more it’s about me being a total nerd for this show and I wanted to chat a bit about the Season 7 premiere that happened last Sunday and the reaction thus far.

Do you watch The Walking Dead? Did you see it yet? No? Then stop reading, there be SPOILERS AHEAD! Why are you reading a blog instead of watching the show? Yeesh, go, go now!

Okay. Onward and upward.

If you watch the show then you  know that season 6 left us all in a quandary. We had just met Negan (if you didn’t read the comics you had been hearing about him ad naseum for quite a while I assume) and I can say that for me, I had a hard time remember to breathe the entire episode as we waited the big reveal and what it meant for our hearty band of survivors.

If you read the comics, then you know that someone is about to die, and Negan is going to be the one who does it. With Lucille, his vampire bat.

I started watching Walking Dead before I read the comics and I instantly loved the show and very quickly thereafter began to devour the comics as well. I am now currently caught up with the comics but won’t spoil those here.  Sufficed it to say, Negan is still alive and kicking and he is still a very, very, VERY bad man. Can you be a man when you’re a horrible monster in a world of horrible monsters?

Many people knew that someone was about to die, we didn’t know who and season 6 was not about to end telling us who dies, they left us all wondering, as the screen went black and the horrific crunching of bat on head echoed all around us. We waited and we guessed and we worried, and finally, we know. It wasn’t just one character, it was two. TWO! Walking Dead you’re getting greedy now.

Winner of best facial hair on "The Walking Dead" has to be Abraham.
Winner of best facial hair on “The Walking Dead” has to be Abraham.

It was a brutal episode, first Abraham got killed, but not before he got in one last, “Such my b—s” as he collapsed. It was a death worthy of the character and it was sad to see. It was actually really grotesque, but this is a show full of grotesque imagery, I mean, for pete’s sake, the dead and decaying are walking around la-dee-dah like. It’s pretty gross.

What came next was a surprise and a pretty good shock, Daryl gets a good, solid punch in on Negan’s handsome face and voila! We have our second death of the evening, Glenn. Poor Glenn, he got it via Lucille in the comics so he’s who I had my money on to be murdered on the episode. I admit to jumping and yelling when it happened. I admit to crying a tear or two when he finally cries out to Maggie and tells her he’ll find her.


It’s a brutal episode. Not only do we see characters we love get butchered in front of our faces, we see some pretty gnarly zombie death as well. But besides all of that is the emotional toll the show took. We watch as Negan beats Rick down emotionally, brutally, gleefully. After so many years with these characters, it’s hard to see someone as strong, as capable, as kind of cuckoo-pants crazy, as Rick get beaten down to the point of weeping and begging.

I say it again, it was a brutal episode.

Sadness...RIP Glenn Rhee.
Sadness…RIP Glenn Rhee.

So why am I so surprised that people are mad? We live in an age where people can accept gratuitous sex and foul language as par for the course, but violence on a show known for being gory and violent shocks us. People cry out, “My kids were watching!” And I ask, “What the heck were you doing let kids watch this show?” People cry out, “It’s too much,” and I ask, “So why doesn’t the violence on the news get you this upset? Why are half naked women okay, but violence is not?”

To me it’s a mark of a show doing something right. If people have such a strong and emotional reaction that they vow to stop watching the show, then the writers, the actors, everyone is doing something right. It means it’s effecting people (either positively or negatively) and that is what any entertainer wants to do. As a writer, I would LOVE to effect people with my words so much so that they have an emotional reaction so strong as to be angry, sad, happy, etc.

Is the show too violent? I don’t think so, not in the context of everything else that surrounds us. Not to mention the show is on at 9 AND has multiple warnings about violent content. They’ve done their job in warning people, if parents are letting their kids watch the show and the kids have nightmares, that’s on them. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s not AMC or The Walking Dead’s responsibility to censor itself because parents don’t make good decisions. I also think that if you don’t read the comics, then this weekends premier was probably a shocker for you, I get that. For those of us who have seen it, we know that Negan is horrible, violent and sadistic. We know what he does. If it was a surprise how violent things got and you are angry, that’s okay, but take a breather and think about the show you’re watching. It’s a show where the dead walk. Where people have been killing each other, sometimes there’s cannibals, always there’s death, and you’re surprised it got violent?

I do agree though that it was still brutal. And brilliant. That was some of the finest TV I’ve seen in awhile. Not because it was violent, but for the quiet moments after the violence was past us. When Rick and Negan are having alone time, when Rick is going through what’s just happened again and again. When we see the look on Daryl’s face when Glenn is killed. It’s those little moments that make it brilliant. The violence is just wrapped into that, it’s the catalyst for those little moments of true brilliance.

I personally cannot wait to see where Season 7 goes. If it’s anything like the comic book, we are in for quite the horrifically brutal treat.

Oh Negan...
Oh Negan…

What did you think of the premier? Too violent? Are you going to keep watching the show?
Yes or no?
Why or why not?
Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Why The “Walking Dead” Cliffhanger Is Awesome

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.


If you haven’t seen the season finale of Walking Dead by now, don’t read this. That is your only warning.


I am a huge Walking Dead fan, both of the comics and the TV show (though I started watching the show first in all honesty) and I think it has consistently been one of the smartest, grossest and funnest shows on TV for many years now.  I also love/hate a good cliffhanger. This season, Walking Dead delivered on both keeping it’s quality at the highest level while also giving us one killer (pun intended) of a cliffhanger.

So why are people so peeved about it?

It is simply amazing to me how many people are upset that the show ended in a cliffhanger. First off, this is not the first time in TV history that there has been a cliffhanger ending for a season so why are people acting all shocked and/or angry that Walking Dead chose that route? All season they have been playing with us, making us wait for the final 10 minutes of the season to finally see one of the biggest bads in all of Walking Dead history, Negan. Not to mention, they teased us with Glenn’s death earlier in the season, only to take it away with a sly wink and a nod, “Don’t worry folks, we’ll get to the death soon…Just be patient,” and then, when death is imminent for one of our mighty zombie killers, the screen fades to black, screams are heard and the credits roll. Leaving us no idea as to who just got their head bashed in by Lucille while also leaving us angry, confused and wanting more.

It’s freaking brilliant TV show writing.

What’s the best way to ensure a huge audience when your show premiers in October? Tease a major characters death and then end the show before telling us who it is. End the show with the bone cracking, blood squelching sounds of a bat (wrapped in barbed wire) being smashed repeatedly into someone’s head, in front of people who love them, but don’t tell the audience who just died. It’s amazing. It’s brilliant and yeah, it’s a little infuriating but I can’t even count at this point how many times I’ve yelled, “I hate this show!” at my TV as the credits roll. But really, that’s code for, “I love this show!”

The fact is, I refuse to give up and/or complain about a show that has given me years of entertainment, taking the zombie survival scenario to a whole other level and who delivers some of the best performances in acting I’ve seen on TV. I mean, the fear in Rick’s eyes as he realizes just how screwed they are when they finally meet Negan after weeks and weeks of him prancing around all cocky, “We’ve done it before,” kind of nonsense. Rick thought Negan was a simple man doing bad things that they could defeat easily.

He is very, very wrong.

Yep. Pee-pee pants city, all aboard!
Yep. Pee-pee pants city, all aboard!

For those who read the comics, we spent the season anxiously awaiting the arrival of Negan, knowing what it means for the survivors, knowing how bloody and brutal things are about to get. Knowing just how diabolical (and damn charming) Negan is. I can say for me that it’s been maddening. Imagine my relief then when Negan steps out of the RV with all his swagger, all his smiles, and Lucille, the bat from Hell. Well, I thought I’d feel relief, but really all I felt was heart pounding fear. I knew what was coming (as so many did) and the anticipation as Negan stalked his prey, toyed with it and made a grand speech that I only heard a little of (it’s hard to hear when you have your shirt over your face and you’re going “Oh God, oh God, oh God,” over and over again) was maddening.

(FYI: Jeffrey Dean Morgan was made to play Negan. I couldn’t be more happy with his performance. He makes Negan confusing, just like in the comics, he’s insane but handsome. True evil, but charming. A sexist , but … Nope, he’s just a jerk)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead - Season 6/Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead – Season 6/Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Then when the screen fades away with the sounds of screaming and skull crushing, I wanted to faint a little bit. It was perfect. It was everything I hoped it would be, even if it was insanity-inducing. To all those people who are creating petitions to find out the ending of WD, or who are complaining that the show was “lame” or “badly written”, you all need to take a step back, survey what else is on TV and realize, this is one of the best shows out there and if you see anything other than total brilliance, you are missing the point and should just stop watching … Oh, but you won’t, because you want to find out who Negan killed. Uh oh!

Seriously though, everyone has their opinion and I respect that, the fact is that cliffhangers happen. They happen quite a bit and they are both a lot of fun as well as being smart TV making and marketing. What better way to get your audience to come back than to leave them wanting more? In this case Walking Dead killed off a major character but left us wondering who that was. Unusual for them as they like to show us who died, leave us in the aftermath and make us wait 6-7 months for the revenge. This time, they left us mid-kill and invite us back for the death, the aftermath and the revenge. I for one cannot wait!

We shall see Rick, we shall see..
We shall see Rick, we shall see..

It’s funny, almost everyone I’ve talked to has a different opinion as to who died in the finale. I say Glenn (I’m sticking with the comics here), others say Daryl, Aaron, Eugene or even Maggie. Which is exactly what those jerks at the writers table of Walking Dead want us to think. They want us sitting in limbo until October so that when that 9pm rolls around we are glued to our TV, just waiting, and then they’ll give us a “filler” episode about Carol and Morgan and we won’t know who died until episode 2 – because the writers of the Walking Dead are mean people, but I love them just the same.

Who do you think died? Tell me in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Rhode Island Comic Con & More (Aka, Shameless Self-Promotion)

Welcome! This is the 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 month there is A LOT happening for your intrepid blog writer. First off is Rhode Island Comic Con which, if you haven’t heard, is the biggest show in the smallest state and it’s AWESOME. This year I have an artist table next to my collaborator Frankie B. Washington. To say I am stoked is an understatement. I’ll be hawking my books, photographs and my new (and first) comic book, “The Rapture: The Final Battle” based on characters from my short story, “The Rapture,” which is in my book, “Menagerie Of The Weird.” You’ll want to read it, trust me.

The Final Battle, art by Frankie B. Washington. Story by FBW and JL Metcalf. 2015.
The Final Battle, art by Frankie B. Washington. Story by FBW and JL Metcalf. 2015.

Today’s blog is going to be a short one because I have lots to do to prepare for RICC and I want to ask you all, if you are in the Providence, RI area, to come say HELLO and help support some of us “starving” artists. We love to chat so even if you don’t want to purchase anything, come say hello, snag a free goodie bag or some candy and enjoy the fun that is to be had at RICC. I’ve been 2-years in a row now and I can tell you, it’s a freakin’ blast and a half.


On top of that awesome sauce (and I plan on doing a blog after RICC next week to update y’all on the fun that was had!) it is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo 2015. If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo then let me tell you a little bit about it. Basically, it’s a challenge to write a complete novel (75,000 words) in the month of November. I participated and was a winner last year with my 2nd novel, “Coming Undone: Musings on Life, Love and Hobbits.” This year it is my goal to complete the sequel to my first book, “The Last Daughter of Lilith,” and I’ve got a pretty good start on things. No title or cover art yet but you can bet your fine behind that it’s going to be awesome. If you are interested in participating in NaNoWriMo you can still sign up!

Then to top off all the goodness of November we have Thanksgiving and then in December I have my final show of the season, the yearly writers Expo sponsored by the Association of Rhode Island Authors, ARIA on December 5th at the Lincoln Mall. More on that later this month!

Finally, I pose this question for my readers, do you attend Comic Conventions? Do you cosplay?

Share your stories/pictures/etc and let’s chat! 

Hope to see you at RICC!
Hope to see you at RICC!
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The Female Perspective: “Fear The Walking Dead” – Do We Really Care?

Welcome! This is a twice-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.

But do we really? Or do we just want the cast to get eaten up?
But do we really? Or do we just want the cast to get eaten up?

We’re a few weeks into the newest show by Robert Kirkman and his crew of zombie lovers, Fear The Walking Dead is supposed to take us to the time of the start of the zombie apocalypse. I was never 100% sold on this idea only because I have such love for the crew of The Walking Dead and I’ve never been a huge fan of spin off shows. They are rarely as good as the original source material.

So what do we have with FWD? Not much so far. The first episode, a long 90-minutes of television, goes on and on and ON about these characters that they desperately want us to care about. We have this family, Madison, Travis and Alicia. We have Madison’s son, the drug-addicted Nick and then we have Travis’ other family, his ex-wife Liza and his son Chris.

Got that so far?

See that sullen look on the girl teenager's face? That's Alicia and she looks like that ALL the time.
See that sullen look on the girl teenager’s face? That’s Alicia and she looks like that ALL the time.

In that 90-minutes we see our first zombie fairly quickly but what got me was the loud, dissonant music and weird filming as Nick discovers that his girlfriend has become one of the walking dead. He runs into the street (in weird slo-mo) and gets hit by a car.

Madison (his mother) gets the call and rushes to the hospital because her son had been missing for awhile now and they were all waiting for the call to tell them he was dead or in jail. No such luck mom, he’s alive and well… well, well-er than he should be considering the fact that he’s beginning withdrawal (but we’ll get to that).

In a slower than a turtle pace, we start to see cracks in the world, zombie-sized cracks but really never see another zombie again, it’s a disappointment to say the least. I won’t go into a critics of each episode but I will say that this past Sunday’s episode was much better than the one’s before it. There were more zombie’s for one and finally some conflict that’s not focused on characters we don’t care about. Though Travis is apparently in such denial that seeing his neighbor eating a dog isn’t quite enough for him to be convinced that something is actually wrong.

Oh yeah, here’s a point that is just irritating. Travis, his ex-wife and son are trapped in a barber shop (with the amazing Ruben Blades as Daniel) and when they get back to it, in the midst of a full-scale LA RIOT, his truck is fine. Despite the fact that people are setting fire to EVERYTHING and rocking cars off their tires. Oh yes, but this is Travis’ truck, it’s totally fine. All I could think was that if this was The Walking Dead, they would have found a burned out shell and had to walk back home. Just saying.

FWD makes me miss my not-so-merry group of survivors...
FWD makes me miss my not-so-merry group of survivors…

Here are my thoughts about the characters. I like Kim Dickens (who plays Madison), I most recently saw her on Sons Of Anarchy and she was great. I’m not sure how I feel about her here, while she is quickly beginning to realize that things are not okay and that they need to actually take care of the zombies instead of hoping for a cure, I find her to be a little … uninteresting. Here’s why; When you’re home, waiting for your husband to return with his other family and you saw your neighbors getting eaten, maybe don’t leave the lights on and the shades OPEN. Sure, it was super smart to distract Nick and Alicia with Monopoly but CLOSE THE SHADES and um, why the heck would you leave your door open when you leave your house?

She goes out with a hammer to kill her neighbor-turned-zombie and can’t do it because Travis talks her out of it because he still thinks these things are people. Sigh.  Okay, sure, you don’t want to get into a fight about killing zombies because your hubby thinks they’re still human but dude, you should have DONE IT. One less zombie is, well, it’s one less zombie.

On another note, since when do drug addicts have better ideas than the non-drug addicts? Seriously, Nick remembered that their neighbor had a shotgun and goes out to get it. First rule of zombie apocalypse people, gather weaponry! I suspect that the mind-altering substances that Nick has ingested have made him more open to the idea of the dead walking the Earth. Go Nick! Though really, what’s up with your withdrawal? You look like one of the zombie’s and are kind of annoying 80% of the time but so far, out of all the annoying people on this show, you are my second favorite. My first favorite is the barber, Daniel Salazar (again, played by Ruben Blades). He knows what’s up. When asked about what’s going on in the world he responds with the super cool line, “It’s something to survive.”

So far my favorite character is Daniel, played by Ruben Blades.
So far my favorite character is Daniel, played by Ruben Blades.

Damn straight Daniel!!! I want you on my zombie killing team for sure.

What really gets me is the way that Madison tries to protect her daughter from seeing what’s actually happening. There is no point in keeping her from it, let her see it, freak out about it and move on to the acceptance part of the zombie apocalypse because I’m telling you, you’re not doing her any favors by keeping her in the dark. Besides that, I have a small issue with both Alicia’s and Madison’s zombie escaping attire, who wouldn’t wear short shorts and a tank top when going off on the run to escape the apocalypse? And heeled boots, oh sure, totally practical. Madison, you and me, we gotta talk about your footwear choices. Heels are NOT going to cut it in the world of The Walking Dead. I promise you that you’re going to want flat shoes with a good, comfortable sole that’s good for running. Cars only last so long.

I know, I know, they aren’t living in a world where the zombie mythos exists. I know that. I also know it’s a fictional show but does it have to be lazy too? There are few things that annoy me more in the TV world than lazy writing. Don’t assume your audience is dumb. Treat us like we’re wicked smart and give us something to think about (Hannibal was a great example of this).

More than anything, I want this show to be as good, as compelling and as interesting as The Walking Dead and I’m not sure that’s possible. I remember being instantly engaged in what WD had to offer, right away I found the plight of Rick Grimes to be exciting stuff. I do not feel engaged to this blended family of soon-to-be survivors. What I would love to see is Madison taking control (ala Rick Grimes) and showing Travis what it means to be a survivor. There are hints of that in the way she is reacting versus the way he is reacting so maybe Kirkman and crew will show us something. I have to say that you can see Madison trying to work things out, trying to make sense of the situation and you can also see that this woman is a survivor. She has strength in her, it’s bubbling to the surface and I can only hope she gets a chance to flex those muscles (figuratively and literally) before the season is out.


So far it's not fear so much as a general sense of ennui.
So far it’s not fear so much as a general sense of not caring.

Only time will tell. I still have hope that FWD will get better, to that end I’ll keep watching and updating my blog, fingers crossed these characters grow on me and start doing smart things instead of annoying and/or dumb things. Actually, I’m going to cross my fingers AND toes just to be safe.

Now, you all tell me, what do you think of Fear The Walking Dead? Is it a dud or does it have potential? Sound off in the comments!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 7/8/2015

Hey comic book fans. Crazy fourth of July weekend down at the Crank File. Booze and fireworks are always a dangerous mix. Some people just don’t know how to handle their freedom responsibly. Tons of buzz as we prepare for the San Diego Comic Con, but before we get a peak into the future of the comics industry we have an impressive crop of books out on Wednesday.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:

The Top of the Pile: Batman #42 DC


I think we were all just a little anxious about how Snyder would follow up the bombshell events that went down in issue #40. The Divergence previews and leaked identify of the new Batman caused some trepidition about the direction of the new Batman. Issue #41 cast aside any any doubts that I had about the direction the series was headed in. This is amazing story telling. Unconventional, surprising and undeniably entertaining, Batman #42 will be read in store and probably won’t ever reach the pile. Includes the introduction of a new villain, Mr. Bloom. Do NOT miss it.

The Mainstream One: 1872 #1 Marvel


Sort of a slow week for Marvel’s Secret Wars event and I’m not a Lando fan. Civil War will probably get a lot of looks because of the upcoming Captain America movie, but I’m looking forward to exploring BattleWorld’s cowboy universe. Returning to Marvel’s classic Wild West frontier, I’m hoping that 1872 is more Magnificent Seven than Two-Gun Kid.

The Indie One: Big Man Plans #4


Saga #30 is also out this week but my regular readers are probably bored of hearing me gush about how great Saga is. So I’m going to spotlight the fourth and final issue of Eric Powell’s revenge story Big Man Plans. Brutal is really the only way to describe this series. The tone, like the action is raw and rubs right against the nerve. The humor is grim and sardonic (hang in there!). Even the heartfelt moments feel as tragic as they do inspiring. And it’s bloody captivating. This violent road of redemption is coming to an end and issue four promises to finally reveal the dark motives driving this little big man’s plans. Don’t overlook this one.

The #1 One: Archie #1 Archie Comics


Strange Fruit #1 from Boom is more interesting to me, but I can’t ignore what Archie has meant to American pop culture. After 666 issues, it’s hard to believe that Archie comics is rebooting Riverdale for the first time. Archie volume 2 promises a new Riverdale reinvented for a new generation. One with characters and stories that feel fresh and relateable to today’s youth. One that also happens to be created by two of the best in the biz, Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. Archie comics won me over with their Dark Circle imprint so I’ll give new Archie a chance. It will be released with more than 20 variant covers by a group of superstar artists. Grab the one that you like best. Personally, I’m digging the Ramon K. Perez cover.

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Spider-Verse #3 Phil Noto Variant Marvel


Phil Noto’s covers are elegant and beautifully understated. Another gorgeous variant from Noto without the Hughes price tag. HA!

The Speculation One: The Walking Dead 144 Image


Walking Dead continues to shamble on, and issue 144 marks an important moment in the zombapocalypse. Here’s the statement released in this week’s preview, “Walking Dead #144 is the final chapter in volume 24 of the walking dead and the last issue compendium 3 and, as such, involves some key moments in the series”. Yeah, this issue is going to be huge and their is a rabid fan base. Might want to think about picking up a few.

Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: April Fools Fun!

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!

It’s April Fools Day, a day that I find equal parts amusing and annoying. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of playing or having tricks played on me. Maybe that makes me a party poop but hey, such is life! I know it’s part of the day.

To that end, I wanted to do a quick post today about some of the funnier, more annoying posts I’ve come across today. Read on and be amused! And come back on Friday for your regularly scheduled post.


1. Stephen King will write for The Walking Dead

Today a post has been making the rounds saying that Mr. King is going to pen the season opener for next years Walking Dead (I totally fell for it too). Which is an intriguing concept and it definitely made me click the link to read more, I then read about how he’s going to kill a bunch of people off, including the guy with the crossbow. Hmmmm…perhaps this is fake?

Click the link to see! (It’s pretty funny)

2. Voltron Kitty Condo

The Voltron Kitty Condo!
The Voltron Kitty Condo!

Every year, ThinkGeek creates some pretty funny gag items that make you laugh and also make you kind of hopeful. This years crop is no different, they include a 360-degree Selfie Stick and this awesome Voltron Kitty Condo that I really wish was real! They also have some awesome Power Wheels Desert Drifters, straight outta Mad Max!

3. Alex & Ani Bought Naming Rights to Rhode Island

The smallest state with the longest name, just got longer thanks to Alex & Ani.
The smallest state with the longest name, just got longer thanks to Alex & Ani.

This one really cracked me up, not only is the title enough to make you want to click, the article attached is actually very funny. Well done Motif Magazine!

4. CERN Researches Confirm the Existence of The Force

Real the Force Is...
Real the Force Is…

I love this one, its fun and … well, fun!

“The Force is what gives a particle physicist his powers,” said CERN theorist Ben Kenobi of the University of Mos Eisley, Tatooine.

Click here for the full story!

Those are some of my fave’s, what about you? Did you see any really juice April Fools Jokes flying around? Share them in the comments!

Happy April!


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The Female Perspective: Strong Women in Power Are Everywhere!

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

I’ve been noticing a trend on TV lately, there are quite a few strong women being portrayed in positions of power. It’s wonderfully enjoyable and completely refreshing to turn on the TV and see a woman leading the charge and showing that a woman in power can be sexy, brave, smart, funny and a total bad-ass.

Some of my favorite TV shows are stuff like Walking Dead, Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, Empire, House of Cards and lots more. All of these shows have the same thing in common, strong female characters.

Cookie is a little bit crazy, a lot powerful and a wonderfully fun character to watch!
Cookie is a little bit crazy, a lot powerful and a wonderfully fun character to watch!

Shows like Empire and Scandal are particularly empowering because they not only have strong women being portrayed but they have women of color being portrayed in positions of power as well. I mean, Olivia Pope in Scandal is the woman everyone wants, literally. This season proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. The fact is, these women are shown as being smart and sexy without shame or apology. The men listen to them and value their opinions. In a show like House of Cards, we see Claire Underwood, a woman who is often over-shadowed by her husband Frank but who is credited with getting him to where he is. Not to mention, she is his sounding board for almost every decision he makes. There’s is a partnership built on a lust for power and equality (I only speak of Seasons 1 and 2 here, no spoilers for the new season!). They balance each other out and feed off one another.

Frank and Claire Underwood are a team...but Claire is the true backbone.
Frank and Claire Underwood are a team…but Claire is the true backbone.

I am sure people will tell me about all the older shows that incorporated women in power but to me, those older shows didn’t do this with the same gusto. The writing, acting and stories being produced by these various TV shows is stellar work. As far back as I can remember, this is the first time so many TV shows are representing women in a way that is empowering rather than as victims. Heck, look at a show like The Walking Dead! Michonne and Carol are two of the toughest members of the group and they are sounding boards for Rick when he isn’t sure what to do.

Olivia Pope and her gladiators are a great example of strong women and strong men working together.
Olivia Pope and her gladiators are a great example of strong women and strong men working together.

It’s refreshing to see women characters portrayed as strong and beautiful instead of boring or vapid. These women aren’t victims but they are flawed human beings, just like men are. It’s a step towards equality. Maybe that sounds overly hopeful but I firmly believe it’s true. When people are able to see men and women interacting as equals it can only be a positive message that can hopefully inspire the next generations to work together instead of separately.

What do you think? Have you noticed all the Powerful Female Characters on TV lately?

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The Female Perspective: Gay Kissing, Dreadlocks and Racism. Oh My!

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

Today I want to address a few different topics that I was made witness to these last few days. I am going to start by saying that this post may not be appropriate for all ages and I heartily apologize for the slur used in #2 listed below. That is the only time I will use it myself because it makes me feel ugly.

  1. The Walking Dead” had a gay kiss, the reactions are predictably (and sadly) off the wall insane.
  2. A FOX TV reporter used the term “jiggaboo” to describe Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” performance.
  3. Giuliana Rancic (with an assist from Kelly Osbourne) from E! News Fashion Police decided that singer Zendaya Coleman must smell of “weed or pachouli” because she has dreadlocks. 

Sigh. I am not even sure where to start with the feelings these three incidents bring up within me. I think the biggest feeling is disappointment. I know there is good in the world (this story proves it) but some days it can be very challenging to find the good amidst all the bad.

The Gay Kiss on The Walking Dead

The kiss is less than 1 minute long. Seriously?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you are aware that I am a huge fan of “The Walking Dead”. I read the comics and enjoy the show. That being said, I was not surprised when two new male characters decided to share a kiss this past Sunday. It was so not a story to me that I admit to being surprised that people were outraged by this one-second kiss. Perhaps that makes me naive. I prefer to think that it makes me more tolerant than some of the trolls online.

From reading some of the tweets and comments after the show aired. You would think that the dang sky was falling down and that “The Walking Dead” had committed the biggest sin ever.

Excerpted from Bleeding Cool, here are some of the responses from some trolls over that one second kiss.

daniel franko @danielfranko5


@WalkingDead_AMC i have been watching the walking dead for years with my kids,then with no warning u throw gays in there, I’m disappointed

10:46 PM – 22 Feb 2015


I’m not sure what to be offended at most, the fact that this guys homophobic tweet got 63 retweets and 9 favorites or that this “man” watches “The Walking Dead” with his KIDS and is only now offended. Never mind that in past episodes we see Zombies eating people; cannibals and other such horrors, the true horror here is that two men kissed. Dear lord. Yes, it’s truly a show for kids. Until now. Can’t have the kids seeing what a loving relationship is like. No, no, that’s too horrific for their sensitive ears and eyes. Yeah, let’s think of the kids for sure because they should be watching a show about zombies and death. Yeah, that’s really stellar.

It continues on with this gem;

I don’t discriminate against gay people. Plenty of my co-workers are gay. I just rather not have young children exposed to the BS on TV

— BJ JONES (@BJizz1e) February 23, 2015

Oh, oh I gotcha…you’re NOT a homophobe yet seeing two people who LOVE EACH OTHER share a quick kiss, that’s offensive. Again with the kids. Seriously?!?!?!? What rocks do these folks live under?

And one of my personal favorites;

I’m not a homophobic but that gay couple just ruined The Walking Dead

— Bri Scott (@bri_scott34) February 23, 2015

I’ve got news for your BJ and Bri Scott, you ARE homophobes. Whenever you have to start a sentence with “I’m not homophobic…” or “I’m not racist, but…” it’s a sure sign that you are, in fact homophobic and/or racist. Don’t try to delude yourself into thinking that you are on the right side of this discussion. I am simply trying to understand why one moment of a show can ruin an entire series??? Someone, please explain that to me.

“Accidental” Racism


Next, we have Kristi Capal, a local newscaster who thinks she can use a racist slang on TV and no one will get angry.

I should note that Capal did apologize later but the damage was done. She used a term that is defined as being offensive in the dictionary to describe Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” performance on the Oscars. Now, first off, Lady Gaga killed it at the Oscar’s. She showed a poise and elegance we rarely see from the performer. It was a reminder that not only is she a talented pianist, she is an talented singer as well. Even Julie Freakin Andrews loved it!

All this comment did was reveal Capal to be both racist and ignorant. She later said she didn’t know what the term meant. An explanation many find hard to believe since it is a rarely used word these days. It’s simply not a word you pull out of thin air. I suspect she said it without thinking but all the while knowing exactly what it meant. I am sure it was probably one of those moments where as soon as she said it (in front of her African-American co-anchor no less) she realized she had made a mistake, but it was too late Capal. We heard it.

According to E! News, Dreadlocks Smell of Weed

Finally, we come to the mess that is E! News and their Oscar Fashion Police. When I was younger, I found this show amusing but as I’ve grown, I see it now for the cruel farce it truly is. It’s a group of people putting down others for cheap laughs. It’s not a show I ever watch and I honestly cannot say that I’m surprised that one of the hosts finally got into some trouble for making a somewhat racist and very much cruel, comment.

Fashion Police host Rancic said that Coleman looks like she smells of "pachouli or weed".
Fashion Police host Rancic said that Coleman looks like she smells of “pachouli or weed”.

The story is that host Giuliana Rancic decided to throw a cheap shot at singer Zendaya Coleman, an 18 year old with dread locks. Rancic decided that this young woman (who looked stunning by the way) must either smell like “Pachouli or Weed”. What’s kind of amusing is she got an assist from Kelly Osbourne (of all people!) who added the weed part.

Um. What?

What’s interesting is that the outrage was instantaneous. People were stunned that Rancic would make such a comment without thinking. The show isn’t about what you smell like, it’s about what you are wearing. This was a low blow even by E!’s somewhat questionable standards.  What it made it more interesting wasn’t Rancic’s pathetic apology but Coleman’s classy response to this nonsesnse.

You can read the full text of Coleman’s response but my favorite part was this;

“To me, locs are a symbol of strength and beauty, almost like a lion’s mane,” the singer wrote. “I suggest some people should listen to India Arie’s ‘I Am Not My Hair’ and contemplate a little before opening your mouth so quickly to judge.”

I want to note that it was after Coleman issued her articulate and classy response to Rancic’s comments that Rancic apologized.

ADDITION as of 2/25: Rancic has since issued a very sincere and articulate apology – you can read/watch it here. While I again appreciate her efforts, for her to say she has “learned a lot”saddens me. Didn’t she already know this lesson?

My Thoughts On it All

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you might be reading this and think, well Rancic and Capal both apologized for the slights and that should be enough but it simply isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that they either found the presence of mind to apologize (or they were made to)but it doesn’t matter because the words were put out there. The fact that these thoughts were expressed on live TV saddens me.

I know I suffer from acting before I think occasionally. Sometimes that causes issues, sometimes it’s not a big deal. But never once have I issued hatred for another human being in public. I work hard at practicing non-judgement (and on days like this, it’s REALLY hard and I know I’ve failed a bit) but I am human, I fail. They are human and they fail. But it has to stop. If you are in the public eye you need to think before you speak. You need to realize that getting a cheap laugh for making fun of someone is never OK. You mocked a beautiful young woman for wearing her hair naturally and you praise her when she straightens her hair and looks “normal” – to you, anyway. Shame on the homophobes and shame on people like Rancic and Capal.

I wish I was a big enough person not to judge them for their actions but I am not. This type of hatred cannot stand. We have to learn to love each other, to be respectful of one another in order to find peace.


What do you think of these topics? What can we do to stop these types of “slips” from happening?

Let me know in the comments!