Review – Angel Season 11 #2 – Out of The Past Part 2

  • Script: Corinna Bechko
  • Artist: Geraldo Borges
  • Colorist: Michelle Madsen
  • Cover Artist: Scott Fischer
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Season 11 of Angel kicked off with a mess, hard disturbing flashbacks / visions, inter-dimensional infestations and the fragile balance of working with Fred / Illyria created a whirlwind of trouble in just a few pages. Angel looks to face his past as Angelus and find out where the visions are directing him, but only if things play out well with Illyria as she’s the resident time traveler.

Issue 2 drops the duo out of the vortex and back…. way back into the past. The duo (trio) must face an entirely new set of challenges including finding some shade for our resident vampire. Goals get a bit mixed and a flowing theme of past mistakes fills the story, Angel isn’t the only one lugging around some heavy baggage from their past and since he’s not the one wielding the power of time and space the journey will get a bit longer with a new detour.

The upshot for fans and new readers is the continued character development of the new group, Angel and Faith had a good run which developed their characters and now we’ll see this dynamic with Fred and Illyria come around with Angel and see how much they can get solved while working together. Given how guarded Illyria is about her past and just her presence in general there’s no doubt some good stories are awaiting readers as the group battles to tackle her past in this journey too.

Corinna Bechko has some relatively fast pacing even if unintentional for the book, with the challenges brought about by issue 2 the story passes in the blink of an eye. Part of that pacing comes by Geraldo Borges art, panel designs and direction for the read, Michelle Madsen continues to play with the temperatures to create interesting focal points and set the general mood of a given scene.

Angel Season 11 #2 continues a wild spiral of action and dark secrets and it hasn’t even touched on the original investigation yet. For fans of the series it’s worth the read as the group digs in deeper for the road ahead.

Release date: February 15, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Angel Catbird Vol. 2: To Castle Catula

  • Story: Margaret Atwood
  • Illustrations: Johnnie Christmas
  • Colorist: Tamara Bonvillain
  • Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
  • Editor: Da Niel Chabon
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics

When worlds collide… well you get something like Angel Catbird. Margaret Atwood is at it in the latest volume of Angel Catbird with another dose of chimera antics as the group try to seek refuge in Castle Catula.

Volume 2 brings readers into the forests as they seek shelter from the crazed Professor Muroid and his rat armies hunting them seeking only their destruction. It’s a wild situation to say the least and when a half-cat, half-bat vampire are in your squad it really puts the pressure on to get to safety before the sun rises and starts cooking away.

With the group thinning to find backup they face new troubles as the landscape eats away at their momentum and challenges emerge. New pacts begin, romances start to flourish and super rats of all sorts start to make trouble as they desperately seek sanctuary. A.C. finds himself in a triangle that even he can’t seem to navigate out of and the stability of it might be enough to create a turning point for the group.

The book brings in backstories to help pass the pages and give depth to the character ensemble, we get interesting twists and origin tales while Muroid goes through various levels of insanity trying to exterminate them while dabbling in fantasies of his victory life. As they close in on sanctuary the stakes get higher and the raw instincts of the team are tested, their biggest foe yet steps onto the stage and everything gets complicated in a hurry for cats and allies alike.

Angel Catbird Volume 2 has a general campy tone, it pokes fun at itself and tries to carry a lighter read. The characters face waves of situations and leap to action, swinging claws and some one liners. The volume also carries footnotes for facts on cats, birds, rats and other animals and where to read more, many of the items do manage to tie in so it’s not a total detour from the storyline.

With a bit of a crazy storyline it seems Johnnie Christmas and Tamara Bonvillain had their work cut out for them. With Castle Catula, cat traps, new hybrids and new experimental teams of military grade rats it certainly tested the imagination but the duo were able to meet the call and deliver some fun artwork that holds a strong level of consistency, a very controlled color palette and some very well placed facial and body expressions.

For fans of Volume 1, there’s much more to explore in the latest installment, for those on the fence, check out the preview pages and get a feel for the Angel Catbird world to see if matches up in taste. It’s certainly an interesting pursuit by Atwood with this series but it feels like Volume 2 is coming into a better pacing and development.

Release date: February 14, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
P
review Pages: Dark Horse Comics

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Empowered and the Soldier of Love #1

  • Story: Adam Warren
  • Artist: Karla Diaz
  • Cover Artist: Karla Diaz
  • Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
  • Editor: Chris Warner
  • Publisher: Mike Richardson

Adam Warren brings Empowered back to fans. The latest series brings some complications to Cape City and it’s heroes. When a new wave of love and hook-ups hit the scene, Cape City starts to spiral into turmoil. It’s up to Empowered and Ninjette to help figure out the messes and what exactly is going on.

The issue goes through a swing of internal hero drama, humor and important details about what’s causing the sudden influx of heroes losing all inhibition and hooking up across the city. There’s a slew of crazy moments and fan service but Warren holds it together well throughout the issue as we discover aspects of the Soldado Del Amor and her experience and opinions with Cape City. There’s a darker force at work in this sudden and mysterious season of love and everyone is too caught up in a wave of hormones to even care to know why.

Karla Diaz captures the spirit of the story with strong character art, the gestures, expressions and atmosphere help compliment the tale and bring another layer of depth to the story. The personality that Ninjette and Empowered bring to the pages mimic reader response very well and carry a consistent energy to the work. Characters sing with emotion through their expressions, it’s easy to tell the swings from discomfort to bliss as things roll on.

With the vivid colors, excellent art balance and comedic timing the issue is a great way to kick off the mini-series and bring new fans into the Empowered universe. It’s easy to look forward to what Adam Warren brings next issue and the wave of art that Karla Diaz graces readers with.

Release date: February 08, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Philly getting a tabletop invasion with PAX Unplugged

Today the Penny Arcade team is leading a new charge with PAX Unplugged coming to Philadelphia November 17-19, 2017. The event will focus strictly on the tabletop, card and board gaming in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, taking elements from past PAX events to create a familiar atmosphere that lets fans engage with the industry.

PAX Unplugged is set to include musical concerts, tournaments, panels with industry figures to talk industry and the future of tabletop. The goal of Unplugged is to provide the same atmosphere to share enthusiasm and passion for board, card and tabletop gaming and see the latest creations on the market and coming soon.

From the brief:

With the rise of popularity of board games, we wanted to provide a dedicated space where fans can come together,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder, Penny Arcade. “We will continue to have tabletop games at every PAX, but Unplugged will focus on stepping away from the TV, monitor and phone to foster face-to-face multiplayer experiences.”

Badges are set to go on sale for PAX Unplugged this Spring, for more updates those will follow on Twitter and their new site.

The Bethesda store kicks off an early weekend sale

Looking to boost up your Bethesda fan apparel? Is that Vault-Tec shirt evading you still? Bethesda is blowing out some of their apparel for an extended weekend sale, given items are about 25-50% off it’s a pretty solid deal for fans of Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, Dishonored and more.

Keep in mind it’s only on apparel exclusively so everything else is business as usual.

Source: Bethesda Store

Frag on, QuakeCon returns to Grapevine TX this August

The largest LAN party is coming back, QuakeCon 2017 is set to invade the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center August 24-27 this year, thousands descend on the festival of gaming to take part in the BYOC nature of the LAN party and game the weekend away.

 

Guests are free to attend and the public is welcome to check out the events and LAN madness. There’s no details on BYOC costs at this point but it’s certainly a nice gesture to the community to explore such a long running event of 22 years etched into the history of gaming.

From the release:

Entering its 22nd year, QuakeCon 2017 will continue to celebrate games and the people who play them by hosting North America’s largest BYOC (Bring-Your-Own-Computer) LAN party. With over two thousand BYOC seats available, participants can showcase their custom computers and join the QuakeCon gamer community to play their favorite games either solo or against one another on the same local area network.

QuakeCon is free for general attendees and open to the public. This year’s event will offer diverse activities for all, including those who choose not to bring their own computer. Attendees are first to see sneak peeks of Bethesda’s upcoming titles and announcements while also attending a wide array of presentations, tournaments, workshops and exhibits from leading tech companies showcasing the newest gaming accessories and hardware.

Marvel and Square Enix strike multi-year licensing deal for gaming

That licensing shuffle never ends does it? Today Marvel has locked in a deal with Square Enix for a multi-year license that allows for multiple properties from the Marvel universe. Of course this isn’t without guidance and goals, the first of the projects will center around The Avengers and the sequels will build from there, thankfully there’s hope in the project not being a movie tie-in product as their brief reads.

The Avengers project is being designed for gamers worldwide and will be packed with all the characters, environments, and iconic moments that have thrilled longtime fans of the franchise. Featuring a completely original story, it will introduce a universe gamers can play in for years to come. More details on The Avengers project and other games will be announced in 2018.

With Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal involved there’s promise for a product that turns out rewarding to fans looking to experience something new from a Marvel gaming product. Both teams have produced some large hits for Square Enix over the years so the combined talents should deliver something interesting if everything comes together just right.

Let’s hope that Square Enix and Marvel can stick to the idea of providing a unique universe for players to experience Marvel storylines in though, having these teams devote all their energy into an Infinity War game designed to accompany the movie wouldn’t be the best use of that talent pool. I only say this with comments like this also thrown into that brief

The Avengers project is a perfect example of how Marvel is making games a key part of the landscape for Marvel storytelling, alongside comics, television and film.

We’ll have to wait and see if a new unique universe awaits, or a movie tie-in or Kingdom Hearts 3 – Ultron Rising. If they keep the titles as a subtle wink and nod as some of their current tv / streaming franchises do that would be nice but everyone will just have to hold tight for now.

Review – Ether #1

  • Script: Matt Kindt
  • Artist: David Rubin
  • Cover Artist: David Rubin
  • Lettering: David Rubin
  • Editor: Daniel Chabon
  • Publisher: Mike Richardson

Crossing worldly or otherworldly planes of existence is a tricky thing, Boone Dias makes it part of his daily exploration though as readers dive through Ether. The unique tale from Matt Kindt plays with humor and shades of drama as the story follows Boone and his scientific exploits to unravel the mystery of the Ether and at times the crimes and conflicts within.

Issue one drops readers in mid-story, leaving readers straight to the punch as Boone has character traits revealed and starts meeting some of the center cast. Soon the world itself starts to open and develop into the heart of the conflict, Kindt is careful with the balance of Boone and his serious tone and the loose mannerisms of those in Ether and Agartha as each on their own could throw this first experience off. Having a scientist that carries a dry delivery and a disconnected relationship is hard on a story but with characters like Glum it helps with those hurdles.

In this latest trip to the Ether some tragedy and high level foul play are at work and waiting for him, as one who thrives on mysteries and challenges it’s hard for him to pass up the opportunity but just what he’s getting into might be bigger than he ever expected. So far he’s been able to rationalize the world and cases before him, now that he’s stepping into a darker side of the Ether it will be a question if he’s able to keep up that fortune.

The issue sets the stage for many of the characters and the large challenge ahead. As an entry to the series its tightly held and filled with the essentials to build the upcoming issues. The art from David Rubin holds consistent and panels sell to the story key moments and tone the book hopes to set. It’s a different book, not hard sci-fi or pure humor, when looking for a book that’s a mix of both but playful in delivery I’d say this delivers as an interesting read. We’ll just have to see how the story continues to develop from here.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #3

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

The internment camp, basically the strongest moment to ring out of issue 2 of this season. As the government goes nuclear on supernatural beings in the country suddenly the walls start closing in on everyone. With Buffy standing firm to protect her friends and family it’ll be a rough ride ahead.

A House Divided dumps more problems on Buffy and the group, with new mandates from the government it’s only a matter of time before federal slayers come knocking on her door for those dearest. We see Buffy trying to micromanage the situation as much as possible and try to keep some control over what’s going down. Christos Gage paints a grim future for the group, even with their best efforts they can’t possibly keep the group going in the face of everything going on.

We see Willow take a firm stand in her beliefs after the chaos in issue 2, knowing the dangers to those who even barely met her, she makes the sacrifices she needs to. Buffy and Spike also face their own wall, given vampires aren’t a magical exemption to the rule Buffy knows they’re coming. It’s a charged issue as the group makes decisions for the best of all their futures given their climate. Rebekah Isaacs does well to pull out emotion from each character through the panels as each of them carefully set the tone with the gestures displayed. Dan Jackson does well with intensity and playing on saturation to show the mood of the world and the emotion within each character with subtle shifts in the panels.

It’s certainly not looking good, in this case the world or at least the nation might just be against Buffy now. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of all this next month.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #2

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

With Buffy facing an internal crisis of where she’s at in life as other celebrate new milestones and life moments, the world itself faces another crisis that has already left a dark mark on her city. There really is never time for Buffy to just get a moment, and this tension and momentum carry into issue 2 as they try to sort out a Shenlong dragon attack after a massive tsunami strike.

Tension really soars in issue 2, the entire gang is swept up in angry mobs, hate crimes and rising political problems that look to impact supernatural beings across the nation with knee-jerk legislation and actions. We see the cast split amongst themselves throughout the issue, Spike and Willow fearing for the worst while others hope to tread lighter paths in hopes the situation will not spiral out nearly as far.

Old faces cross paths and social unrest rages on as the mystery behind the dragon drives everyone to the limit without an answer. Christos Gage really plays all angles here, the cast is struggling to stomach the potential future they face and the world gets very ugly in a short amount of time. Rebekah Isaacs does well in the chapter, only some of the panels gave a slight bump in the experience as thicker ink brought about weird inconsistencies. Dan Jackson plays between muted colors and careful splashes of vibrancy to highlight the actions and moods of each panel.

Season 11 isn’t getting any easier, hopefully Buffy and the rest of the group can figure out how to keep it together.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½