Snow Blind by Ollie Masters

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Snow Blind by Ollie Masters is the kind of under the radar graphic novel that ends up being made into a seriously kick ass movie. Crime Noir that would be getting raved about if it came in another art form. But for those of you that haven’t realized that comic books are literature and have some of the best crime noir stories in the marketplace, then here is one to introduce you to.

Teddy Ruffins doesn’t really fit in. Not at home, not at school, not with the crowd of guys his dad wishes he was like. After all, who breaks into a library just to sit and read? But one day, as his dad is passed out drunk, Teddy snaps a picture and shares it with the guys. It helps him fit in, only someone takes the picture and posts it on the internet. Teddy’s dad was mad but only not just for the embarrassment the picture caused. Soon afterward, someone tries to break into their home. Someone with a gun and Teddy begins to find out that maybe his parents, aren’t who he always thought they were.

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What Teddy learns is that his family left Louisiana and moved to Alaska because they had to. Because that is where the Witness Protection Program moved them to and that there were people that were looking for Teddy’s parents. People who wanted them dead.

But the further Teddy digs, the more the truth gets worse and worse. His parents weren’t innocent witnesses and maybe the man with the gun, the man out there waiting, maybe he has good reason to want to kill.

Snowblind, because being a teenage outcast is not enough.

Good, gritty, crime noire in the fashion that would have made Raymond Chandler proud. But think something a little darker and bloodier and with twists and turns that would leaving you knowing that sometimes, there really is no good guy.

A terrific comic and even better story.

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Catwoman #1 by Joelle Jones

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Catwoman #1 by Joelle Jones came out last week and amid the chaos and wounded feelings of comicdom, this new adventure begins. Selina, just off the wedding that didn’t come to pass, is in her own recovery period from the love and life she walked away from. Trying to keep a low profile, she is drawn back into the limelight when an impostor takes the Catwoman garb and begins to do more than just steal. She kills and she kills cops.

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It’s been a week since Selina fled Gotham and the Bat she left at the altar. She is now in Villa Hermosa and laying low. Gambling in the casinos and trying to occupy her time and mind. But when another Catwoman begins her crime spree, the police start to hunt down Selina Kyle. She has no choice but to put aside her own pain and don the Cat suit once more. There’s a copycat out there and its up to Selina to stop her before more people die.

Is it fair? Seriously is it even fair? Joelle Jones writes and draws and basically can do everything in the comic book world but run the printers. Which by the way, she probably can. I came across Joelle Jones in her own comic, Lady Killer, which if you have never read it; you have to. You really really do. No she has Selina Kyle? Catwoman? Expect big things comic book world. Big beautiful, creative and mind blowing things.

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Joelle is allowing us a peek behind the Cat mask and humanizing Selina Kyle. The pain from the break up. Her sacrifice in leaving Batman. Her desire to retire from all things superhero or supervillain. But peace doesn’t come to Selina Kyle, it never does and the one thing she has is being the Cat. Now someone is using her suit and her name and is doing it all wrong. Selina Kyle has given up enough, she won’t let them take this.

If this first issue is any indicator than yes, we are in for a wild and terrific run!

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Batman #50

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Okay, I waited until the day after to review Batman #50 and if you have not read the comic book that was marketed as the wedding event of the year, stop now. There are Spoilers ahead!

Tom King has taken a pretty intimate portrayal over the last 50 books with the Dark Knight and has done some serious soul searching with this character. From self destruction, to suicidal tendencies, to inadequacies, to love. Like it or not, this has been a comic book run that centers a bit more around Bruce Wayne then Batman. A run that would culminate in issue #50 with the marriage of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

Only it didn’t, and as the Joker would say, “…everybody loses their mind…”. Which, if you check out Tom King’s twitter feed, everybody did. Disappointment. Anger. Betrayal. Those were some off the nicer terms thrown at King. But what needs to be kept in mind is the simple fact of the question that the impending marriage brought to the surface. So let’s recap several of the key thoughts about Batman #50.

Selina was never really ready to get married. No I am not throwing the mess on her shoulders, but she did leave him standing on the rooftop/altar. Selina did in fact run off. But if you look back a few issues when she was having her girl talk moment with Lois Lane, Selina does make the comment that she is too young for this. That moment and the fact that for much of this run, Bruce has been unloading about himself while she quietly listens, shows that the Cat is keeping a great deal of her feelings to herself.

Is a happy Batman, a bad Batman? Let’s just take a step (or issue) back or two and really look at how the Joker got the drop on Batman at the church. There was the Bat, paralyzed and completely at the Joker’s mercy. Had the Cat not arrived, the Joker could have finally killed the Batman. Which of course was never the Joker’s plan to begin with. No that would never have happened to such a degree before. A happy Batman is a distracted Batman. This was the question raised in #50 to Selina as she was headed to the altar. Does the Batman need his misery to be effective? Can Bruce Wayne be happy and still be the Batman?

Bane is not all brawn and no brains. Bane is a character that, in some respects, has mirrored Doomsday too much. His overwhelming strength keeps us from appreciating his brilliance. Bane knows that it takes more then brute strength to break the Batman. It takes cunning and guile and more sanity than insanity. Bane did not set out to break the Batman this time. No this time he set out to break Bruce Wayne. The forthcoming issues of Batman will be a testament to his success or failure. Will losing Selina be more of a blow than the death of Jason. How will this change how the Batman deals with the dregs of Gotham. For those who have, in anger and spite, sworn off the series because of the wedding not happening, this is the hook. This is why we need to keep following this series. King has said that this will be a 100 issue run. He is only half way there.

And finally, for the ladies in the house, stop taking relationship advice from your girlfriends!!!! Read the book and you will see what I mean.

Batman #50 was good. A disappointment to many but in the long run, it may be a momentous turning point in the Batman mythos.

I plan on following this run!

Monday’s Mutant is ForgetMeNot

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Monday’s Mutant is ForgetMeNot. Can’t remember him, that’s okay because that is what his mutant power is, the ability to be forgotten. It is impossible for ForgetMeNot to be noticed by either his friends or his foes. This enabled him to be the perfect covert agent because he could infiltrate anyplace and his presence would not be noticed or remembered. Professor X placed a psychic reminder in his own mind to remember ForgetMeNot’s existence once every hour. But upon Professor X’s death it was lost.

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ForgetMeNot first appears in X-Men #300 in 2014 when he comes to the aid of a young girl who is trapped by the defenses of the Jean Grey School. He tells her his story and how over time he had played a major role in the history of the X-Men, only to be forgotten. He eventually takes her place and frees her, stating that over time the mechanical defenses of the School will simply forget about him and he will go free. ForgetMeNot patrols the grounds of the School, looking after its students but unnoticed by all.

 

ForgetMeNot went on to join X-Force and then to slide into obscurity. Forgotten.

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Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella

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Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella by Shawn Aldridge is another in a long recent list of Vampirella team ups and I have to begin to wonder why. Are we looking to give exposure to lesser known comic book characters or (and I find this very hard to believe) is Vampirella losing her popularity?

Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad take a long overdue vacation in Sin City and stumble upon a serial killer! This killer is ripping her victims (all male) to shreds and leaving a bloody mess in her wake. They meet the legendary Vampirella and team up to find the killer who is known as the Queen of Hearts. What follows is pretty standard fare for this kind of comic. Plenty of well drawn and imaginative female body parts and an overdose of violence and blood.

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I don’t have an issue with this at all, let’s get real this is what comic books started with. But what I find somewhat annoying is that this is solely what the book has to offer. This is pretty low brow and with the better Vampirella books, she was never low brow.

I love Vampirella books, but this one is a pass.

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Lady Mechanika, Vol. 5: Clockwork Assassin – Joe Benitez

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Lady Mechanika, Vol. 5: Clockwork Assassin is another great addition to Joe Benitez and his run on this book. You will be blown away by the artwork but what Benitez does so well here is tell the story. Each tale in the mythos that is Lady Mechanika adds to the overall brilliance of these books. Clockwork Assassin is a strong addition to the growth of this terrific character.

Lady Mechanika lives in a Steampunk England and her body has been experimented on to the point that her enhancements have given her speed and strength. She is more cyborg than human but still searches for her humanity. Her friend Mr. Lewis is an engineer/scientists whose past is finally coming to roost as mistakes and regrets have deadly consequences.

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An old friend and colleague of Mr. Lewis is brutally murdered by a female assassin. An assassin who resembles Lady Mechanika. As more of Lewis’ old workmates are killed he must reveal secrets of himself and his past to clear Lady Mechanika and help find the killer. But what he doesn’t realize is that he too is scheduled to be killed by the Clockwork Assassin!

The brilliant and beautiful artwork will draw you into these books, Benitez also does the pencilling on these books, but it is the story itself that will keep you turning the pages and buying up the next books in line. Benitez is in full control here and the tales of mystery and thrills will make a fan of anyone who picks up these books.

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Because these are Steampunk in genre, some readers may pass them by but that is a mistake. These are damn good comics and I highly recommend the read!

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Throwback Thursday – Dr. Fate

 

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Today’s Throwback Thursday character is DC Comics Dr. Fate.

Fate was created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman and first appeared in More Fun Comics back in May of 1940. Though over the years he has been several different individuals, his original alter ego was the son of Archaeologist Sven Nelson, Kent Nelson. While on an expedition in the Valley of Ur, the duo explore a previously undiscovered temple where Kent opens the tomb of Nabu the Wise, releasing a toxic gas which kills his father. The spirit of Nabu takes pity on young Kent and grants him the helmet, amulet, and cloak that makes him a sorcerer known as Dr. Fate. Kent Nelson returns to the United States and begins to fight crime and supernatural evil as Dr. Fate, setting up his headquarters in a tower in Salem, Massachusetts.

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As Dr. Fate, Kent becomes a founding member of the Justice Society of America, a precursor to what would be the Justice League. But Kent has an on again and off again relationship with Dr. Fate. He feels that the spirit of Nabu often possesses him when he dons the helmet and cloak. Instead he chooses to live his own life, becoming a doctor, an archaeologist like his father, and even enlisting in the army to serve as a paratrooper. All without the aide of Dr. Fate. This probably has to do with the death of his father upon the discovery of Nabu and the magical powers of Dr. Fate.

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Others have taken the mantle of Dr. Fate through the years and with the various reboots by DC Comics. But overall the character has never really taken hold. Unlike Marvel’s Dr. Strange, who came along twenty years after the creation of Dr. Fate by DC; Dr. Fate never seemed to be a presence in the DC Universe. Though he is featured in the Dark Nights: Metal event, being killed by Black Adam as he fought alongside the Justice League in issue #4.

So here’s to Doctor Fate, a secondary character that laid the groundwork for much of the current DC Universe, but like too many other characters of his age, forgotten by the current storylines. Except as another dead body.

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Monday’s Mutant is Namorita!

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Monday’s Mutant is not actually a true mutant, but a clone.

Namorita Prentiss first appeared in June 1972 in Sub-Mariner #50. The first cousin of Namor the Sub-Mariner was Namora, a hybrid of Atlantean and Human origins, whose desire to have children was thwarted by her sterility. She decided to have a clone made of herself, the baby Namorita. The child grew up but did not know of her unnatural birth until after her mother’s death. Namorita then became a pawn in the politics of Atlantis. At times being used against her cousin the King.

Namor, realizing that Namorita’s innocent nature posed a risk, took her to the surface and to a friend to help raise the teenager. Betty Dean Prentiss became a second mother to Namorita. This would unfortunately lead to Prentiss’ death as well at the hands of the enemies of Namor.

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Namorita decided that she could no longer live in the shadow of her cousin the King and stepped out on her own. She became a founding member of the superhero group known as the New Warriors and for most of the comic book world drifted off to be a non-factor until the advent of Civil War.

The New Warriors decided that to up their exposure as a superhero team they needed to turn themselves into a reality television show. For the most part it was uneventful.  That is until the day they cornered a criminal group that contained the villain Nitro. To escape capture, Nitro created an explosion that ended up killing 612  civilians. This then led to the superhero registration act and the subsequent Civil War. The hero that was closest to the explosion was Namorita. Her remains were later retrieved and given a proper burial.

 

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Namorita had many of the same powers as her mother and Namor, increased strength and agility and the power of flight as well. She also had the ability to change her skin color. But for most of her run in Marvel she was basically the teenage, female Namor with all the brooding and the angst. So she never really caught on or developed much outside of the Sub-Mariner comics and as those began to decline in popularity so did she. Her time with the New Warriors did nothing for her or that whole team as well.

Which is unfortunate, Marvel’s Atlantean royal family could have been so much more that was ever developed. Something very much along the lines of the Inhumans. But for now, they are relegated to guest roles in other comics.

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Friday’s Femme Fatale – Barb Wire

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Friday’s Femme Fatale is Barb Wire, a comic book anti-hero created by Dark Horse in 1994. Barbara Kopetski, alias Barb Wire, is a bounty hunter working in the town of Steel Harbor, with many of her fugitives leading her into Arcadia. This run by Dark Horse was part of its Greatest Comics label that unfortunately didn’t quite catch on. But they were in fact really damn good books. It was a short run, only 9 books but Barb has made guest appearances and failed comebacks since then.

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Barb Wire has no superpowers at all. But she receives help from her brother Charlie who is blind but a mechanical genius. Armed to the teeth and sporting a leather bodysuit, Barb Wire wages her war on crime and escaped fugitives. Her alter ego, Barbara Kopetski is a stripper by trade.

Barb Wire’s other claim to fame is being made into a B-Movie starring Pamela Anderson and almost won the Razzie for worst picture of the year. Losing out to Striptease.

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