Friday, November 21, 2014

REVIEW: Wildfire Vol 1

Writer: Hawkins, Matt
Artist: Sejic, Linda
Review: Art Bee

Over the last two decades there has been a growing concern with the rising population and food production. “We’ll need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to sustain a world population expected to grow to 10 billion.” (; accessed 11/20/14) With numbers like that, how can we produce more food with the same amount of land and resources? The answer is we can’t. This leads us to either finding more land and resources capable of growing crops or finding another scientific solution. Matt Hawkins and Linda Seijic have used this concept in their science fiction tale, Wildfire, from Image.

In Wildfire a group of scientists headed by botanist Dan Miller are working to solve this future dilemma by manipulating growth processes resulting in plants growing in a fraction of the normal time. At the beginning of the series the scientists are forced to give a demonstration before they are ready. They use a dandelion enclosed in a glass casing. The dandelion grew from a seed to a flower and the produced seeds in less than a minute. This was the success they were looking for, but due to an unfortunate clumsy accident the case was broken. This triggers the cascade of events that leads to the destruction of Los Angeles by plants taking over. “Wildfire” is the code name used by the government to indicate the uncontrolled spread of a biological agent.

Could you imagine the frantic “perfect lawn” people trying to keep ahead on dandelions that grow in less than a minute? That would be the death of many older people from the sheer heart attack rates alone.

This series from being to end (all four issues) was just incredible. Matt Hawkins built and conducted the story perfectly. Wildfire stayed on track and to the point while building great suspense. The characters were very dynamic and realistic with a spotlight-eager journalist, guilt driven scientist, and protocol bound military officer (just to mention a few).

Linda Sejic is a brilliant artist. Each issue is filled with beautiful and elegant artwork. In issue #3 (I believe), the reporter team is driving in a van. The image is looking at them through the windshield, and the windshield is reflecting the trees and surrounding objects without any loss in detail. Even all of her covers are absolutely gorgeous.

Wildfire was not listed as a mini-series which left me pretty sad when I found out that issue #4 was the last installment. At the end of the series they announce that Wildfire Vol. 2 will be in Fall of 2015. They give us the teaser showing that the plants have affected the insect population. Now if that does not sound exciting, you are not any kind of science fiction fan. The trade paperback for the series will be out on Dec. 3 for the awesome price of $14.99. I would suggest grabbing it and getting ready for the wildfire of insects next year. I hope people are stockpiling cans of Raid.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

REVIEW: Death of Wolverine

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Steve McNiven
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Review by: Alexander J. Diaz

Wolverine, Weapon X. Logan, or any of the other names he has been called over the years, is one of Marvel’s top characters. Almost everybody loves him, or at least loves the action in his books. It's weird that such an amoral character has become such a guiding force in Marvel Comics, but he has and many thought he would always be there.

That fact has brought about this comic. The Big Two know that the only thing that sells more comics than a war or a crisis is killing a character, and killing a character that cannot die makes a good story. That is what put Marvel on the path to this comic, and (not-such-a-spoiler alert!) Wolverine does die. The problem is that if you’re taking the time to read this review then you know that comic characters come back to life all the time, so it loses its edge after a while.

We all know that Wolverine is coming back, especially since he has a new movie coming out in a few years. That means that the character will probably be brought back right before the movie premiers. The thing I take from this is that Wolverine will be out of the Marvel universe for a few years. That’s a long period of time to kill a top name character, so it is interesting move. I definitely went into this comic wondering how they would pull it off in a way that respected the character, and left you with the feeling of how are they going to get him out of this death. Oddly enough I think they did pull it off.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

REVIEW: Second Avenue Caper

Writer: Joyce Brabner
Artist: Mark Zingarelli
Review: Will Dubbeld

The medium of graphic sequential storytelling is a funny one. Dozens of throwaway books are published per month, from major publishers to basement indies. All of these books are important to the preservation and propagation of the media but every so often a book is published that is important on a broader scale.
Second Avenue Caper is one of those books.

Many of our readers were not yet born in the early 1980s, many others young enough to only remember them through a hazy memory, like Vaseline smeared on a camera lens. The remainder, however, will vividly remember those early days when HIV first became prevalent, first as a problem relegated to the gay community, then becoming more widespread and branded an epidemic. Second Avenue Caper harkens back to those early days as a tightly knit group of friends in New Yorks gay community battles misconceptions, lack of medical care, and a general lack of public awareness about HIV/AIDS. The focal character is a nurse named Ray who takes to selling marijuana, first in order to supplement income, then to bankroll missions of mercy.

Experimental drug treatments that would alleviate the symptoms of HIV were available in Mexico at the time, not FDA approved, and this meant smuggling. Ray and his companions use the money from peddling drugs, favors garnered from running errands for the mob, and a sense of familial obligation to make runs across the Mexican border and secure medication for their community.

Although Second Avenue Caper seems largely framed around an altruistic moneymaking and smuggling scheme, the core of the book is about Ray and his group of friends. This is where Brabner's gift as a storyteller shines. The characters are bound, in many cases tighter than their own families, unified and fighting for the gay community and the lives of their peers. A rather sizable group of friends at the beginning of the book dwindles as members die, one by one, driving home the intense feeling of mortality that flows through Second Avenue Caper. Names, likenesses and locations are changed throughout the story, but the events depicted are true and serve as an excellent reminder of a darker time in our society, a heartfelt tribute to those who were there at the beginning, and those who didn't make it through.

I said before that I believe Second Avenue Caper to be an important book, showcasing a piece of American history that doesn't see much exposure in the comics industry. I don't mean in the way that Strangers in Paradise, or Bone, or Watchmen are important.
I believe it's important to society as a whole, not just amongst graphic novelists and comic book readers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

No time for love, Dr. Strange

Post: William R. Davis, Jr.

My love of comics was inherited from my much older brother. Being 15 years my elder and a social outcast, this meant two things: we had plenty in common, and he had an old light blue Oldsmobile that made plenty of visits to the comic shop. Once arriving there was plenty left of his part-time supermarket paycheck to get a nod from the man working behind the counter. Those were some nice memories of simpler times.

Although the Sorcerer Supreme can no longer boast a monthly title of his own, there has been plenty of talk recently about his upcoming feature film which could prove to be pretty exciting. Marvel should’ve chosen to revisit the old Asian stereotypes of Ditko and Lee’s initial Strange Tales. Those first four issues were the best hands down. There are undoubtedly plenty of people who would disagree, but I would argue: “What’s better than ancient Tibetan high fantasy and the dark arts?”
Boom. Argument won. There’s nothing better.

While most covet Strange Tales #110, give me #111. I can easily afford an 8.5 CGC #111, and instead of getting Johnny Storm confounded by mirrors on the cover, I can see him battling Asbestos Man, someone I am sure my brother faced at some point being a child of the 70s and 80s.
I heard they used it to make soup after they pulled it from the public school walls.

Marvel should’ve taken a moment to do something different with the casting, and methinks they need to kick Kahn to the curb, although we all know that this will never happen.
Nothing against Cumberbatch, though.
He’s pretty good for a white guy.
My point is this: Tibet, Greenwich Village, and black magic is a guaranteed box office hit. It would sure make me happy, anyway. Marvel street cred is at an all time high after Guardians of Galaxy, so I will buy a ticket hoping that it is incredible. At the very least it will give me a license to bitch about it with impunity. I can already see the fanboys on Twitter picking nits right now. I think we can all agree that the worst thing that can happen is a visit from the Ghost of the Last Samurai.
There is a reason that I am not the CEO of a blue chip company. In addition to being dangerously unqualified, it would’ve been awesome to watch the internet explode after saying that Marvel Studios has just cast Tom Cruise as the next Dr. Strange in an otherwise all Asian production. That would definitely be good for a grin.