Month: January 2013

Deep Cuts Review 1

Deep Cuts Review

Paul Pope’s zany stories are always a sight to behold. Love him or hate him, it’s certain you’ll find something to say about his work — it demands a reaction, whether positive or negative. The One-Trick Ripoff/Deep Cuts Collection is actually a re-release of most of his intriguing works from the 90s, seen in Dark Horse Presents, and is a worthy anthology that begs your attention.

The main plot thread follows a bizarre love-struck couple who want to get away from the chaos of the street gangs they find themselves mixed up with. Gangs like “The Paid in Spades” or “The One Tricks” roam Los Angeles, and Tubby and Vim want to run away from it all, Romeo and Juliet-style, with a tinge of the surreal. They decide to break out of the grimy world they live in by becoming thieves who happen to steal from other thieves, namely gang members such as themselves. Tubby and Vim know the stakes are high, and it’ all or nothing, but something has to change so they can finally find their happily ever after.

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The collection is rough, for sure, but that’s part of its quirky charm. These characters are quintessentially 90s, packed with personality and practically peeling themselves off the pages with a rawness not seen in modern romance yarns. And not only do you get a window into the world of these young lovers in this anthology, but The Deep Cuts encompasses sensational short comic strips and other forms of media that run the gamut. You’ll find punk rock love poems, touching sagas, and stories about wayward teenagers. It’s a melting pot with a very schizophrenic feel, and it’s disjointed, but that’s how collections work. And this one in particular is a real doozy.

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You’ll come for The Italian Job-esque One Trick Rip-off, but undoubtedly will stay for the 150 extra pages of rare, previously unpublished content from Pope’s early career, as mentioned above. A particularly excellent example of the writer’s chops is exemplary in the Supertrouble manga, originally created for Kodansha in Japan — it’s trippy, engaging stuff to be sure.

The 288-page odyssey is stoic, violent, and even downright hilarious at times, never slowing down for a moment even through its grittier material. It’s a mile-a-minute treasure trove of inventive storytelling that isn’t always comfortable or pure, but it never ceases to entertain. Pick it up as a great gateway drug for the rest of Pope’s work, or if you’re looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-path. If you’re looking for punk rock powerhouse narratives, you’ve found it here.

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega TPB Review 1

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega TPB Review

Oh Quentin Quire. You quirky kid with the pink coif. I don’t know much about Quentin beyond the fact that he is supposed to be the next big thing in telepathy. Think the same power level as Charles Xavier with slightly more hair and significantly less impulse control. Oh and little to no shame. Although the film X-Men: First Class is not considered canon, it allowed audiences to imagine Charles in a new light; a hormonal young mutant who has extraordinary abilities but nowhere near the amount of wisdom we’re accustomed to him having. Quentin is much like this version of Charles, except instead of being a product of the swinging 60s, Quentin is more a child of the Thatcher 80s, a punk kid shaped by anti-establishment credos and more than a little Grant Morrison-esque peculiarity.

Quentin is the crux behind the Alpha and Omega story, and if the previous description didn’t tell you enough about him, the fact he thought it was a good idea to create a highly detailed mental construct simply to mess with Wolverine (Armor just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) should tell you what this little prat is like. He takes control of Logan and Ichiki’s mind, so they physically appear to be in a coma and are conveniently unreachable by other telepaths at the school. Quentin also moves them early on to places they are less likely to be stumbled upon. Creepy.

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Logan’s no stranger to people meddling with his mind so despite the fact that he isn’t able to override Quentin’s control, his berserker rage allows his body to move on auto-pilot, seeking out the source of whoever is messing with him. Consider that for a moment: Wolverine running around the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning with no mental safeguards to prevent him from tearing into the very students he is there to protect as their Headmaster.

For all the brilliance and extraordinary abilities, you are a very stupid boy, Quentin Quire.

5Fe6739B12E640711C93D65678F68B39.JpgThe world he’s created to enact his revenge on Wolverine is densely detailed, almost indiscernible from reality, though the state of affairs in this world are dire for him and Armor. They have failed to deliver a package of some kind and are now being hunted by their boss as well as the government. Despite not knowing they have any abilities in this construct, after some close calls their instincts override the mental programming and allow them to use their powers. Although they don’t remember who they are, they do sense that something is wrong but these versions of themselves aren’t as familiar with the concept of mind control. Their abilities do come in hand considering they’re being hunted, so it’s a start.

It’s an interesting tale that follows both the “real” world happenings at the school as well as the construct Quentin has built. One of the more clever elements of this book is that the art style changes noticeably between the construct and the real world. It’s a visually striking change, so it’s easy for the reader to know that we’ve switched locations without needing constant subtitles. Both artists are capable though I found the construct art more appealing personally.

There are real moments of tenderness in this story too, where we learn more about Armor’s past and even Quentin’s motivations. I still didn’t particularly like him as a character at the end of this arc (other than a few funny one liners) but I do think this story helped me understand him better. Overall, an interesting read and a good insight into three characters you wouldn’t normally put together in a story.

Launch of the BlackBerry 10 updates - 2013-01-30 16:12:53

Launch of the BlackBerry 10 updates

 It has arrived. The executives, fans and journalists have gathered for the launch of anticipated BlackBerry 10, going on in six cities bringing us together to see what RIM has to offer. Comics and Gaming Magazine will be bringing all the latest news to you from the BlackBerry 10 launch, and will continue to update as they come.

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How Gail Simone brought Barbara Gordon back - 2013-01-30 15:45:05

How Gail Simone brought Barbara Gordon back

When DC decided to renew their entire comic line— not reboot, that was a bad word during that event— the New 52 changed a lot of characters in ways some fans weren’t happy with. One of the losses was Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. She would vanish from the DC Universe to be replaced by the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon (or Babs as she’s affectionately called by fans), who was indeed the first to use that title but had not been Batgirl for over twenty “comic” years. Having lost the use of her legs when the Joker shot her in her own home, Gordon took up the mantle of Oracle instead: assisting the Bat team from behind the lines as the go-to tech gal, hacking her way into the information needed in pursuit of the bad guys. It was a modern take on what a super hero could be, and a physically disabled role model for readers. Gordon may no longer have been Batgirl but she was still every bit a hero. DC’s announcement that the New 52’s Batgirl would be Barbara Gordon— out of the wheelchair with no explanation as to how or why when first announced— caused a huge stir. A lot of positive work had been done with the Oracle character and it seemed like it was about to be erased. To do this right, they needed a writer who could handle this transition with grace. That writer was Gail Simone.

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No stranger to Babs, Simone penned Oracle’s exploits for over four years on Birds of Prey. Her run is considered to be the definitive work on the series, writing the all women team in a fresh, fun and female friendly way. These women held their own in a typically male hero-focused comic world and were a blast to read, no matter what gender you are. Simone brought the same approach to the New 52 Batgirl and treated the character with the respect she deserved. The first few issues detailed Gordon’s decision to return to crime fighting and her first times out, holding her own but still not quite at the same level of physicality she once had. We don’t find out exactly how she’s regained the use of her legs until later on and it’s a matter of fact revelation, nothing mystical about it. Science prevails. That’s not where the true story is though, which is why her tale starts off with her return to crime fighting. She’s relearning a lot along the way and comes close to making some near fatal errors early on when she overestimates her abilities. We’re privy to her psychological struggles as well: witnesses to the emotional gamut she runs with every physical ache of her body, all in pursuit of the life she once had. It isn’t the same, nor should it be.

Batgirl-Die-Cut.jpgShe isn’t defined by the trauma the Joker put her through, but it would be very shortsighted to simply ignore what happened. It affects her daily life, her perception of herself and her struggle to stay confident about who she is and what she can achieve. She is kicking ass again on a regular basis but she is not the same Barbara Gordon we knew a few years ago. She’s tougher. Stronger. At a cost, to be sure: there is also a new fragility to her character, cracks that show particularly when she faces the Joker during the Death of the Family event. She’s overcome so much; dealing with losing the use of her legs and then being able to walk again after coming to terms with that? Surely it was a joyous moment but fraught with emotional turmoil too. She’s an imperfect character, flawed by her experiences but all the more empathetic to the audience because of it. There’s an odd stigma when it comes to female characters showing any perceived sign of weakness or emotion: that somehow women must be fierce every second or else they aren’t truly a strong woman. Barbara Gordon may be the strongest woman in the DC Universe right now, and any moments of doubt or fear she experiences in Batgirl do not diminish that for a second. She’s human, and if anything, in a world populated by superhuman heroes and villains, that makes what she does all the more remarkable. She easily could have left Gotham forever; starting a new life somewhere safe and no one would blame her for a second. She doesn’t. The moment she’s able to walk, she’s running full speed towards being Batgirl again. Trying to get back in the thick of it and make a difference even though she paid dearly for doing exactly that before.

That is Barbara Gordon, the strong woman that Gail Simone has so expertly been writing on this run of Batgirl. She’s a complex person that we come to understand and care about more and more with every issue. With the return of the Joker in the Death of the Family event, Gordon is faced with the man she’s feared and hated for years. It’s a nerve-wracking moment that comes after an incredibly tense buildup. Seriously, it’s an intricate web of deceit that features more than just the Joker as a ghost from Babs past. Though there are some minor things I disliked story and art-wise during this run, overall I think it’s been a very successful return of the original Batgirl.

That being said, I think the DC Universe’s loss of Oracle as a role model and superheroine is still felt deeply by many fans. Batgirl’s return has been great but Oracle deserves a spot in the New 52, Babs or not.

 

Once More Unto The Dark: An Interview with Maxime Béland about Splinter Cell Blacklist - 2015-02-01 15:59:09

Once More Unto The Dark: An Interview with Maxime Béland about Splinter Cell Blacklist

Although Ubisoft is currently most recognized for the historical, assassinating exploits of the Assassin’s Creed series, the name that initially put them on the map was Sam Fisher, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series. Sam may never venture into his ancestral memories to unwind cosmic conspiracies, but he’s more than familiar with the political kind, and he was stylishly killing people off on the Xbox long before Altair or Ezio was a gleam in anyone’s eye. With the announcement of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Ubisoft puts Sam back in the spec ops suit, and we played the game and talked with Maxime Beland, Creative Director of the upcoming sequel.



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