Comics Club-4-Kids is a monthly club that explores comic books geared towards kids, of various age ranges. A couple of GeekMoms test different comic books on their own geeky kids. However, as geek moms, our intent is to use comic books as a source for exploring concepts used in studying classic literature in schools. Because schools need more comic books.
This month’s theme: morality.
Each comic book is broken into four sections: character, narrative structure, problem solving/plot development, visual text. Sample questions are provided to help parents, teachers, homeschool parents, or comic book enthusiasts to help their littles or bigs to learn critical thinking skills while exploring fun forms of literature: comic books.
This month’s comics: Tiny Titans—Return to the Treehouse (geared towards Littles), and Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 023 (geared towards Bigs).
Who among us has never dreamed of being a superhero? If you clicked the link to this article, I imagine you have done so at least once in your life. I have done so many a time. I am thirty-seven and I still do it. I even wrote a superhero novel because if I can’t do it, my imaginary friends can.
When you envision yourself as part of the cape and tights brigade, are you being you or are you someone else? In fantasy land, I’m usually at least three inches taller and definitely fifty pounds thinner, I have ringlets instead of barely tamable frizz, a much cuter nose, and I can run in heels while brandishing my rapier wit. And a katana.
In our house, we limit screen time, maybe an hour a day. For the first two years, we capped TV watching at an hour a week.
We also tend away from the licensed products.
You know the ones I am talking about, the Elsa socks, Batman toothbrushes, or Elmo dolls. So imagine my husband’s surprise when I announced we were giving our two-year-old nephew Spider-Man for Christmas.
I’ve been asked many times through the years how I became the big ole nerd that I am. It has been asked in many ways by many types of people and I choose to believe it is always asked out of jealousy of my awesomeness. I mean, how could anyone not want to be just like me, right? I usually laugh, make a joke, or will reply with my standard response of, “It just happened over time, there was no one thing or event.”
Over the last few days, as I prepared to join this wondrous team known as GeekMom, I’ve been actively thinking about this topic. No easy task for a busy gal with ADHD and a to-do list that would make a lesser person weep, but perhaps highly overdue. Why did I become a geek? Most people I know can attribute their geekiness to someone in their family who is also a geek. They picked up their love of this or their fascination with that by observing loved ones in their passionate undertakings. Alas, there is no one in my immediate family who has the same predilections as I.
Kids love to create and come up with some of the most ingenious stories and drawings. They don’t always follow the kind of progression that adults come to expect, and setting them off on their creative journey while they are young will help them continue to be creative as they grow. It’s important to capture this development, but sometimes they (or you) run out of ideas for what to have them do. Continue reading Keep Kids Creating With ‘The Superhero Comic Kit’!
When I saw a press release hit my email about the Dark Knight and the pizza loving ninja dudes were doing a six-month crossover series, I did a double-take.
So far, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have crossed over with X-Files and Ghostbusters and both of those had their quirks. Of the two, Ghostbusters crossover was my favorite, if short-lived.
I have just as many questions as I have squeals of excitement for what’s to come between my favorite mutants and the Bat. TMNT is known not only for its kick butt action but also for their one-liners. Batman is known for his serious tone and dark themes. Granted, the latest TMNT series is probably not that far off from Batman, but it’s still something I’d let my 9-year old son read. I can’t say that for the Dark Knight.
I have a few hopeful thoughts about what is to come.
The return of Bruce Wayne – The cover art for issue #1 shows Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl again. Even though this won’t kick in until November, I can wait that long if it means seeing him suit up again.
Massive Ninja action – Batman is a trained ninja and samurai warrior. The Turtles are fully trained in the art of ninjitsu. I’m excited to see how their styles are the same in some areas and how they learn from each other in others.
Who will be the “top dog?” – In the Ghostbusters crossover, each Turtle latched on to a different Ghostbuster. Batman is a solo act, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the band of brothers and which one he will get along best with. My money is on Leo because he’s the leader, but Raph is a close second because of his rough around the edges attitude that Batman might radiate too.
So many villains and only six months to use them all. – There are so many villains for the writers to pick from for the Turtles to face off against. I’m hoping they don’t go with all mainstream characters and pull a few others that are not so well-known. My top picks at the moment are Riddler, Scarecrow, Firefly, Clock King, and Professor Pyg.
Who will show up from Batman’s world? – Of the allies I want to see drop-in on this mini-series, I’m really hoping for Red Hood because I think his attitude would match up with Raphael in a conflict causing way. Damien would be another good conflict character because the Turtles might underestimate his abilities (and get the floor wiped with their shells in the process).
Wanted. Ally for Shredder. – I’m curious to see where Shredder will fit into all of this and who he will align himself with in Gotham. There’s and abundance of villains he could associate with. Will he lean more towards the meta-human types or the mobsters. If I had to put a name in the hat right now, it would be Lady Shiva. Her attitude and mastery of the martial arts would make her a good fit as an ally for Shredder.
I do have one request for the writers… please put a one-liner here and there.
You can even give them all to Mikey and Alfred.
I don’t care!
Just throw a few in there. Please.
This being DC and IDW’s second crossover of the year (Star Trek / Green Lantern is out now), I’m thinking a third crossover might be fun. Maybe The X-Files and Martian Manhunter (too obvious?) or a more comical hook up would be Jem and the Holograms and Wonder Woman. Just a thought.
Is your Instagram feed still sadly lacking in gorgeous comic book art? If 11 comic book artists aren’t enough to satisfy you, here are 11 more artists who share their works in progress, peeks from behind their tables at the biggest conventions in the country, and stunning Imperator Furiosa fan art. Lots of Furiosa fan art.
Babs Tarr (babsdraws) – The current artist of Batgirl and variant cover artist for DC Comics, Babs Tarr is also known for her stylish and memorable take on the scouts of Sailor Moon.
Cameron Stewart (cameronmstewart) – Part of the team that relaunched Batgirl and the artist for the Fight Club sequel, Cameron Stewart is an award-winning artist who has worked with all major comic publishers.
Chrissie Zullo (chrissiezullo) – Chrissie Zullo, a cover artist for Vertigo, often shares images of various lovely ladies from comics, Disney, games, and more.
Isaac Goodhart (izgoodhart) – Current artist for Image’s spooky series Postal and the final issue of Witchblade, Isaac Goodhart is an up-and-coming talent to keep an eye on.
Jorge Jimenez (jorge_jimenez_comicbookartist) – Artist for the Olympus arc of Smallville, Jorge Jimenez is currently working on Earth 2: Society for DC Comics. If you love the characters of Earth 2, check out his feed for frequent updates.
Kevin Wada (kevinwada) – From the gorgeous covers of She-Hulk to his incredible commissions at conventions across the country, Kevin Wada is on his way to comic artist superstardom.
Kristafer Anka (kristaferanka) – Recently announced as the amazing artist of the Captain Marvel relaunch in the fall, Kris Anka has also drawn covers for the House of M Secret Wars series and interiors for Uncanny X-Men.
Marguerite Sauvage (margueritesauvage) – Marguerite Sauvage’s illustration style leaps off the page, especially her beautiful work featuring Wonder Woman. Sauvage is the artist on the new DC Comics digital series DC Bombshells.
Mingjue Chen (mingjuechen) – Mingjue Chen has an animation background that shines through her recent work in Gotham Academy and Batgirl Annual #3.
Phil Noto (philnoto) – Phil Noto is known for his dazzling work on the Black Widow solo series, and was recently announced as the artist on the upcoming Chewbacca solo book. Noto doesn’t update Instagram often, but following him is worth it for the few times he does.
Tak Miyazawa (takmiyazawa) – Tak Miyazawa has worked as the interior artist for recent issues of Ms. Marvel. He’s also teamed up with Greg Pak for crowdfunded picture books The Princess Who Saved Herself and ABC Disgusting.
Your kids might be in the middle of their summer reading challenge or program and wondering, “What should I read next?” I recently happened upon the perfect book to add to the book pile this summer, aimed at kids who love science and/or comic books: Batman Science from Capstone Publishing and DC Comics.
Have you ever seen a batarang fly through the air or Batman fly up the side of a building with his grappling gun and wonder, “Could that really happen?” Batman Science tackles that question for all of the Dark Knight’s signature moves and equipment with clear, concise information. Although the title touts science, most of the topics are overviews of engineering topics worded for late elementary age kids.
Topics range from the Batsuit and utility belt to the various Bat vehicles. You and your kids might be surprised at how much of Batman’s fictional weapons and equipment have a basis in real-world science and engineering. There’s a heavy emphasis on real-world law enforcement and military equipment and tactics, as most of Batman’s arsenal is based on the same type of technology and methods.
Authors Tammy Enz and Agnieszka Biskup did a fantastic job of splitting up engineering topics into bite-sized chunks of information ideal for kids’ attention spans. You’ll find yourself picking up the easy-to-read book from time to time to skim over interesting topics, from how Kevlar is made to concept cars like BMW’s GINA that can change its shape like the Batmobile.
Batman Science is available now in paperback, a fantastic way to get kids who love superheroes interested in the amazing engineering in the real world.
Even after two years, our list of “7 Super Wonder Woman Gifts and Wants” still has me, well, wanting. That’s probably because Wonder Woman never goes out of style. However, she does apparently go out of print, because some of the stuff on that original list is no longer available. In other words, it’s time for an update.
Oh yes, I still want that mixer. And yes, it’s still only available in Brazil. Sigh. That said, there are many other awesome Wonder Women-themed goodies out there.
This list may be a little late for Mother’s Day gifts, but really, any time is a perfect time for a little something devoted to the Amazon princess. Here are our latest Wonder Woman-themed gift picks.
Custom Tungsten Wonder Woman Rings
These aren’t quite as strong as Wonder Woman’s bracelets, but each of Custom Tungsten’s Wonder Woman-themed rings are still pretty durable. They’re also pretty eye-catching, with a variety of different patterns available (including the one pictured above) in designs ranging from 4 to 10mm. If you want it to have a personal touch, opt for the engraving. Either way, each one is custom-made, so make sure you measure wisely; actual ring sizes range from 4 to 17. [$24.50 to $49]
Wonder Woman Superhero Socks
Sometimes, you want to hide your superpowers. These Wonder Woman socks are perfect for putting your Wonder Woman fandom out there, but you can also easily hide them under the outfit of your everyday alter ego. That’s because they have all of the Wonder Wonder flash, without the cape. Have you seen those socks with the little capes on the back? They’re cute, but I prefer my socks cape-free. It’s hard enough running, without having something flapping in the breeze. That said, if you want the flash without the cape, these faux lace-up socks would also be a pretty perfect accessory. [$8.99 to $11.99]
Wonder Woman Apron (Part 2)
Despite having superpowers in the kitchen, stains are my nemesis. They’ve also ruined more than one favorite shirt. While the apron that I previously mentioned is still available, I really love this one that Sassy Apron is selling on Etsy. And really, having a spare apron in your arsenal may be necessary. This one is cool, cute, and it’s made to order—as every super-suit should be. [$42]
Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics
Get ready to explore the origin of the world’s first and most kick-ass female superhero through 196 pages of black-and-white comics. This coffee table book has all of the strips that ran in newspapers from May 1, 1943, until December 1, 1944. These haven’t been printed since the series’ original run, making it even more of a must-have. Besides familiar faces, the Lasso of Truth, the Invisible Plane, the bracelets, and so much more, the book has an opening essay that provides a few peeks at promotional materials, original sketches, and other tidbits. [$35.25]
Wonder Woman Bangle Watch
With so many people relying on smartphones to provide the time these days, you don’t see as many watches. This is a watch worth showing off. Of course, it’s not as cool as Wonder Woman’s bracelets (and it won’t deflect bullets, either). That said, it does have the power to keep you from being late! [$44.95]
Wonder Woman Pillows & Pillowcases
Next time I go to take a snooze on the couch, I will dream of kicking some serious ass—at least if I have one of these pillows to put my weary head upon. Choose between different patterns and sizes, all of which are handmade by Comicscon on Etsy. You can even opt to purchase just the cushion fabric, the cover, or the cover and filling, so you can create your perfect Wonder Woman pillow. [Starts at $8]
Wonder Woman Messenger/Diaper Bag
I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine wearing a utility belt. This thing is much more my style, and I don’t even care that it’s “technically” a diaper bag. Officially licensed by DC Comics, this messenger bag has mesh pockets, an insulated bottle holder, and space for whatever else you need to carry on a daily basis. And just in case you are toting a superhero-in-training, it comes packaged with a changing pad and cape-shaped burp cloth. Think Geek is currently out of stock (of course!) on this bag, but it can be found on Amazon as well. [$37.98]
Mix two parts Mean Girls, one part Breaking Bad, and a dash of Heavenly Creatures, and you might have something close to Nutmeg, in stores from Action Lab Entertainment on April 15.
This unique book from writer James F. Wright and artist/colorist Jackie Crofts has grown from a modest Kickstarter campaign to a riveting 15-issue series also available on Comixology.
Nutmeg brings teen Cassia Caraway to a new school, where she quickly learns that mean girl Saffron Longfellow rules over all. Cassia isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, and when she does she gains a new friend: Poppy Pepper. Together the two hatch a plan to knock Saffron down a rung by sabotaging her upcoming bake sale. Can you take a guess which ingredient might play a big role in that?
The soft colors paired with a story of junior high BFFs taking on the school queen bee might make you assume this is an all-ages comic, but Nutmeg promises to head into darker territory as the girls begin a life of crime. (Be sure to check out the book yourself before passing it along to younger readers.)
I met the creative team at Emerald City Comicon this year, and I was immediately intrigued by the gorgeous art and their enthusiasm for the book. Recently I chatted with them a little more to learn more about Nutmeg, their inspiration, and more.
GeekMom: What is your target reader age?
Jackie Crofts: We tell people it’s around 11 and up, but it all depends on the reading level if it’s under that age. There isn’t anything too bad content-wise but we want readers to be able to relate to events in the book!
James F. Wright: We’re aiming for 11 and up, primarily. The main reason has less to do with concerns about specific content—there’s no sex or violence or bad language in the book (beyond what 13-year-old girls might say)—but rather because some of the things the girls experience in the book wouldn’t be as familiar to readers below that age.
GM: How many issues will the series run?
Jackie: We’re doing 15 instead of 18 now so we don’t die! Haha. I completely trust what James has cooking up on the issues and how they break down and play out no matter how long the series is.
James: The original plan was for 18 issues, hahahaha… But then we remembered it’s just the two of us (for now) and we’ve adjusted accordingly. So now it’s looking like 15 issues for the full narrative. Our current release schedule is three issues monthly, followed by a trade paperback collecting those three issues.
GM: How did Nutmeg go from Kickstarter to Action Lab?
Jackie: We were originally posting pages online trying to get the word out about the book until we decided to do the Kickstarter. At that point we already had the first issue complete for some time so we were just kind of sitting on it. James brought to my attention that Jeremy Whitley, the writer for Action Lab’s Princeless, was looking for female artists to work on a book he was doing. I sent my stuff to him and I ended up doing a cover for Princeless: Tales of Girls Who Rock. It was an awesome opportunity especially since I hadn’t worked professionally in comics yet.
After that I kept in contact with Jeremy and as the Kickstarter went live he pushed the comic to a lot of places and vouched for us and we are so grateful for that! Fast forward a little later down the line and he asked if we needed a publisher and we were introduced to all the nice folks at Action Lab. We’ve been there ever since!
James: In 2013 Jackie got invited to show at Wizard World Portland for their January 2014 event, and they provided her with a free table. When that happened we made attending that show our focus for self-publishing the book. We’d already backed a few comics projects on Kickstarter and so we launched our own with a goal of printing 800 copies to take to shows, starting with Wizard World.
Jeremy Whitley has always been one of Jackie’s biggest supporters, and when he found out about the Kickstarter he helped get the ball rolling by sending out PDF review copies to a number of sites. And once we’d met, and then surpassed our goal, he helped get it into the hands of the folks at Action Lab. For which we are eternally grateful!
GM: What inspired you to create a crime fiction set in a junior high school?
James: I was thinking about how it’s still pretty rare to see crime fiction stories with women in lead roles—they’re often relegated to wives or girlfriends or molls or mistresses—and how the world of teenagers seemed ripe for something like that with secrets and betrayals and in-fighting. Also, there have been a ton of teen detectives in fiction from Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown to Veronica Mars and Rian Johnson’s Brick, but the focus has never (or rarely) been on the criminal side of that equation.
The only—and the first—thing that came to mind that addressed both criteria was Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, a portrait of teenage friendship and darkness. It’s one of my favorite movies and my own chief inspiration for Nutmeg (although our book does not go even remotely as dark as that film does).
GM: Was there a Saffron in your life growing up?
Jackie: I didn’t go to school with anyone that was just consistently a Saffron to me. There weren’t any kids that would seek out one person and bully them or anything, especially in elementary school and junior high. Those were all lumped into one school for me and I grew up going to a really small Catholic school with uniforms and all. If you were a jerk to someone, you’d have to deal with being around them all the time, everyone knowing your biz, and then most likely continuing into high school with them. Haha. Kids could be turds sometimes because that just happens, but no Saffrons.
James: You know, I don’t really think there was. My memory is pretty awful, but I didn’t have any notable enemies growing up. I did tend to have a single best friend a few times over the years, though, with whom I spent nearly all of my time. Like Poppy and Cassia.
GM: What message do you hope readers will take away from the book?
Jackie: Maybe that things are tough for everyone, but that it will be okay. If you think that school is an embarrassing or awkward time for you, it probably is for everyone else around you too in one way or another. And if you take those experiences as a chance to grow and become your own person then you’ll be ready for shifting friendships, relationships, and life after school. You don’t ever really stop getting into awkward or embarrassing situations and you’ll still have relationships that grow, change, or fade away and the great part is that the opportunity to keep growing as a person never really stops.
James: Oof. That’s a tough one. I think if readers take anything from Nutmeg it’s that junior high and growing up are hard for everyone. Nobody escapes adolescence unscathed, and as difficult as it can be, finding your own place in that world is so important to making it.
Oh, and that crime doesn’t pay as well as you’d think.
“We’re here to disassemble the patriarchy!” yelled moderator Kelly Sue DeConnick, and thus the Valkyries panel at Emerald City Comicon got underway.
The Valkyries are a group of women working in comic book retail around the world. Comic book artist and writer Kate Leth organized the group when she worked in a store herself and wanted to find other kindred spirits to talk shop. Since then, the membership has grown to almost 400 women worldwide.
Discussion within the group doesn’t simply focus on ranting about customers, even though negative experiences as a result of being a female employee do occur. Together, the members discuss recommendations for customers and how to improve the comic retail experience for all visitors to their stores.
Their influence is now even felt by publishers. At Emerald City Comicon, Leth announced variant covers that can only be ordered at shops with Valkyries within their ranks. First up, variants for Dynamite Comics’ Swords of Sorrow and Image’s Pretty Deadly.
Curious if your comic book store will carry the variant covers? Contact the Valkyries through Twitter to find a member in a store near you. (I recommend following their account for fantastic comic book discussion, even if you’re not employed in a store.)
For better or worse, social media has ushered in a new era of comic fans’ voices being heard. In recent weeks, negativity and harassment have dominated the online comics conversations. In the middle of it all, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 hit comic book store shelves, a welcome (and much needed in my case) reminder that comics can be fun.
Even when comics discussion on Twitter isn’t engulfed in flames, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is an entertaining, upbeat, refreshing, and yes, nutty series for readers of all ages and levels of fandom.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are 5 more reasons you should be reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
1. It’s an ideal series for new-to-comics readers of all ages. You don’t need to know what’s coming up in Secret Wars (does anyone?) or have read Marvel Super-Heroes #8 to understand the nuances of the character. In a nutshell, Squirrel Girl is a confident part-girl, part-squirrel trying to make it through her first year of college. And she beat Wolverine once, no biggie.
2. It’s funny. Like, really funny. Writer Ryan North brings humor, fun, and personality to every page of this book. (How many times can I say “fun” in this list?)
When faced with a new foe, Squirrel Girl refers to her handy card deck, “Deadpool’s Guide to Super Villains.” Each of these cards is worth the cover price alone.
Jokes in the dialogue and background aren’t uncommon, either, so I find myself grinning from start to finish with every issue.
3. The art style is a refreshing change of pace. With a variety of body types and a superhero who dresses sensibly, Erica Henderson’s artwork gives me no qualms about sharing this book with everyone I know.
When asked in the letters section of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 about Squirrel Girl’s body type, Henderson replied, “I tend to draw super heroines with more physical powers thicker because I honestly have a hard time believing that a 90-pound woman can take down a 200-pound steroidal dude who has equal fighting ability.”
4. The series is a few issues into the story, so it’s easy to catch up. Only three issues have been released so far, and you can find them easily on Comixology or in your local store. In fact, the first two issues both went to second printing due to demand.
5. Squirrel Girl has her own theme song. ‘Nuff said.
Being a geek is becoming more and more mainstream. Yet there are still stereotypes of what makes a geek a “geek.” Being a comic book fan is a quintessential sign, and often linked to the old-school idea of socially-inept, single guys. For women who proclaim their love of comics (like me), it’s just…strange.
But that is changing. I was just invited to a Fan Girls Night Out at my local comic store by another mom who is also into comics. There are more of us than you realize. And although it may seem new to the mainstream world, it is far from abnormal. The history of women in comics as both fans and within the industry stretches back to the beginning.
The new documentary She Makes Comics is an eye-opening and heartfelt look at women within the history of comics, and I highly recommend watching it. The film is directed by Marisa Stotter and produced by Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert of Respect!Films. It is executive produced by Sequart’s Julian Darius and Mike Phillips and by Columbia University comics librarian Karen Green. It is a series of interwoven interviews of passionate people with different roles and points of view. My teenage son and I watched it together, finding it informative and entertaining.
Did you know that women and men made up equal numbers of comic book readership before the 1950s? American comics were about many topics, had various settings, and reflected every possible interest. By the ’70s, women readers started to drop off dramatically, partly due to the focus on male superheroes as the best-seller comic book theme, as well as the feminist movement awakening a generation of women who were tired of the same “wedding bliss” ending. An underground women’s comic movement began, and it was fascinating listening to the creators talk about it on camera: both the excitement and the fears.
Several women really changed the comic book world, from Wendy Pini, the original chain-mail bikini awesome cosplayer who then created ElfQuest, to Janette Kahn, former publisher of DC who broke the glass ceiling, to Gail Simone, notable comic writer, and author of Women in Refrigerators, an unapologetic look at how female characters are unfairly treated in comic stories, to Kelly Sue DeConnick, the creator of the hugely popular female Captain Marvel, and many more.
How do women get into comics in the first place? Better comics. The consensus of the interviewees was: Give us a variety of women featured, complex characters, and in-depth storytelling. As an X-Men fan, it was cool to know how many other women in this film cited that series as their turn-on to the whole genre. The fact that the male creator of the series had two female editors makes sense. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was another “gateway” comic, again, with a female editor. In fact, that editor, Karen Berger, is credited with developing the talents of some of the biggest names in comics for the past several decades.
I personally got into comics in the 1990s, and was quite alone. I took my two young children to the comic book store and was the only female there, let alone a mother. I found it interesting to hear about that time period. The film talked about how more women were getting into the creative side of comics then, but still not equally represented by a long-shot. The industry was not welcome to women or women-centered stories, but also, women are not as confidant in promoting themselves.
Comics used to be sold in supermarkets and bookstores, but then only in specific comic stores that were (and mostly still are) very much a bachelor den of boob posters and all-male staff who assume a girl is only there because she is dating a comic book fan. In 1994, a support organization for women in comics was created called Friends of Lulu which put out a book helping comic book stores understand how to attract more females to their stores—why shut out the biggest consumers in the country? The internet ushered in a huge change. This has given women a place to connect, collaborate, and share their love of comics. The film also mentions the influence of the manga craze during that time as well, with comics targeted to girls.
There is so much to this film, but what stood out to me most was the passion of the people interviewed, and the range of ages. I loved hearing from the elder pioneers in the industry, as well as the younger talents of today. Inspiring the next generation of comic creators came up a lot, and is something I support wholeheartedly. Everyone should be able to express themselves in whatever medium suits them best, boys and girls. Check out the film!
She Makes Comics is now available to order on DVD and as a digital download at SheMakesComics.com.
With 25 heroes and villains taking the arena floor to battle it out for the ultimate power (the Tesseract), you can bet I wanted in on some of the viewing action for Marvel Universe Live. I’m fortunate enough to have had a chance to check out everything the tour has to offer, from the show, to the souvenirs, to the food during a show at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
There was the good, the bad, and the really expensive.
My first stops at any show are the souvenir and food stands. They had some really cool looking items including a show prequel comic book, a hoodie, and several toys. However, I walked home with none of it because of high pricing. The comic book cost $20 (the sticker price “justified” due to the comic also containing a program), the hoodie cost $50, and the toys ranged from $10 and up.
The show food (like snow cones and popcorn) ranged from $8 (popcorn in a box) to $15 for a snow cone in a souvenir cup. There was quite a bit of snow cone in that cup, but not $15 worth. I originally bought the “fresh” popcorn ($12.50 in a souvenir bag) and returned it because it tasted horrible.
After giving in to a snow cone, we started on our quest to find our seat. On our way, we stumbled on a green screen photo opportunity, but the $19.95 price tag didn’t entice me enough to stop walking.
Our seats were looking straight down the stage and I couldn’t have asked for a better view, which was funny because our seats were the cheaper of the seat priced in the lower bowl.
The show starts with a neat introduction of the Marvel Universe on the main screen of the stage and the fun begins.
The story begins as Loki starts up trouble by discovering that mutant DNA (he uses Storm, Cyclops, and Wolverine as his unwilling DNA sources) can be used to create a new Tesseract. Wolverine escapes thanks to Iron Man and S.H.E.I.L.D, but Loki gets away with Storm and Cyclops. From here we are introduced to our leading cast: Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Falcon, Wolverine, and Bruce Banner/Hulk. In order to defeat Loki, they need to put the Tesseract back together and use it against him and break up into three teams. Wolverine is his usual self and goes rogue, and Banner goes with him just in case he runs into trouble.
With the hero teams formed, the main villains are revealed. They are Loki, Green Goblin, Rhino, The Lizard, Killian, Red Skull, and Madam Hydra. There are also a few smaller roles thrown in to fill things out, including Hydra Agents, Chitauri, Extremis soldiers, Electro, and Black Cat.
First, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Captain Marvel fought Dr. Aldrick Killian and his Extremis soldiers. This fight was pretty interesting in terms of the special effects used. My son didn’t take his eyes off the stage during the final moments thanks to Killian walking out on fire.
The second team-up was Thor and Spider-Man against the Green Goblin, Rhino, Doc Oc, and The Lizard. This was by far my favorite scene because it had all of the elements of the web-crawler and Thor that I love. Spider-Man’s sense of humor and Goblin’s reactions were right on target each time. This scene included a nice mix of stunt work and hand-to-hand combat. Black Cat and Electro both made brief appearances and I’m a bit surprised that Electro was wearing a modification of his comic book costume rather than the more recent version from the movie.
The final team-up was Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon against Red Skull and Madam Hydra. This was the most disappointing part of the show because 95% of it was done on motorcycles versus using other effects to even it out. Falcon was in his comic book costume and stretched his wings a bit, but he was mostly there to deal with the Hydra Agents. Black Widow was pitted up against Madam Hydra while Cap took on Red Skull.
It felt like they over-saturated the scene and diluted the audience’s attention too much. I missed a really cool motorcycle stunt by Captain America and Red Skull because I was looking at Black Widow.
In between the fight scenes, Wolverine and Hulk came out to do small bit-parts while the tech crew set up the next major fight. These might have been smaller scenes for the characters, but the creators did them justice. It was hard to pay attention to the set change when Wolverine and Bruce were exchanging funny dialogue and stunts.
The finale battle brought everyone from all of the fights back out on the main floor. Captain America and his team were late to the fight and while the character said they had a reason, I couldn’t pick up on it in their previous fight scene. The final battle is also where we finally get to see Banner go all green with anger and Hulk-out.
At the end of the show, I thought back on the characters they included and what I would have changed.
For starters, I would have given Storm a stronger part or used one of the weaker X-Men in her place. Her presence demands respect and at least a few special effects, neither of which she was given. Cyclops was a good choice for the part he played, but he was also underused in the special effects and combat choreography department. I would have replaced Falcon with Black Panther and added Vision in to the mix. I understand that neither of these characters are as well-known as the rest of the team, but hey—let’s educate the kids in the audience.
On my way to the car, I talked about the show with my 9-year-old son and my brother. My son couldn’t say enough about it. He loved it from beginning to end. Captain America was his favorite part because of the motorcycle stunts. My brother decided that it wasn’t as cheesy as he originally thought it would be. While there were some cheesy moments, there was a nice balance of corny and really awesome moments.
I’m happy to have had my two hours with the Avengers and hope they make this a regular tour with different story-lines in the future.
Tip to our readers: If you are planning on buying tickets for the show, try to get tickets from the angle you see in my videos. As you can tell from the footage, quite a bit of the show is dark (meaning you won’t be able to see key parts) in certain areas of the arena.
Project Superhero‘s Jessie and her friends are the kids you want your daughter to be and be friends with in the eighth grade. She has an enviable comic book collection, and she loves journalism and science. (Things like the likelihood of Black Canary’s scream being possible bothers her.) Her friend Audrey is an electronics lover who has a room full of computer parts and builds robots.
In Project Superhero, written as Jessie’s journal, their class embarks on the Superhero Slam, a year-long 8th-grade project to explore heroes and superheroes—culturally, scientifically, and sociologically—culminating in a one-on-one debate for superhero supremacy.
Jessie’s stories will sound familiar to grown-up comic book geeks. They’re your friends talking about the characters. (“Zatanna…has cool sorcery powers, but I am kind of not so much into “magical intervention” when it comes to superheroes.”) They’re talk about women in and working on comics. (“There are lots of women on that team but they are still X-MEN—what is up with that?”) And it’s a pre-teen girl talking about her friends, parents, and figuring out who she is through the lens of her love for comics.
– Clara Hughes, six-time Winter and Summer Olympic medalist
– Bryan Q. Miller, writer for Batgirl and Smallville
– Jessica Watson, author of True Spirit: The True Story of a 16-Year-Old Australian Who Sailed Solo, Nonstop, and Unassisted Around the World
– Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic gold medalist and World Champion in ice hockey
– Mike Bruen, NYPD sergeant-on-duty at Ground Zero
– Kelly Sue DeConnick, comic book writer for Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble
– Yuriko Romer, filmmaker (Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful)
– Nicole Stott, NASA astronaut and engineer
– Christie Nicholson, contributing editor at Scientific American and SmartPlanet
Project Superhero is all of this wrapped in a package of a lot of comic book history with a dash of science, history, and language lessons. It’s also delightfully illustrated by Kris Pearn, who co-directed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.
Though described as for 8- to 12-year-olds and perfectly appropriate for that audience, some of the heavier topics (9/11, friends in the hospital, dealing with medical issues like depression and insulin injections) may warrant a parental pre-read before giving it to the younger end. (You know your kids the best.) I’ll be happy to hand it over to my 9-year-old comic book fan.
Maybe you recall seeing Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz’s milky pinups and other photo (NSFW, nudity) series created used high-speed cameras and splashed milk on nude models. You may have seen those same photos used recently in Coca Cola’s Fairlife Milk campaign. Now he and his team at Aurum Light are releasing a 2015 calendar called Splash Heroes, with similar images, though with more color, and—of course—a superhero theme.
At $14.99, CLZ Comic Books is the most expensive app on my iPhone. It’s also the one that has saved me the most money at the comic book store.
I only started collecting comics two years ago, but in that time, I’ve amassed a humble collection of trades and monthly issues. It can be hard to keep track with what I’ve bought, read, and what I’m looking for at times. CLZ Comic Books helps me keep track of the books I have by keeping an inventory for me. Every time I pick up a new title, I scan the barcode with the app and it adds it to my collection. The app also gives me the option of adding a book to my wish list. This keeps my “wanting to read” and my “already bought” lists separate and easy to manage.
In the past, I found a book I didn’t think I had, only to get home and discover it on my shelf. This can get pricey if you pick up doubles of your graphic novels.
There are a few features of this app that I’m particularly fond of:
It Keeps Your Books Organized. After scanning books into your collection, you can organize them in folders by publisher, series, or whatever suits your fancy.
Barcode Scanning. The built-in barcode scanner helps you inventory your books quickly and efficiently. If the app finds more than one variation of the book, it will ask you which one you want to include.
Back Up. You can back up your database to the cloud in case you need to switch to a new device. This is nice because it protects the time you’ve spent organizing everything.
A Detailed View. For those who like to know all the details of their titles, CLZ will give you all the information you could ask for including writer, artist, issue plot, and characters.
Edit and Add Personal Notes. Once you enter in a book, you can edit the details to include personal information, such as condition, location, purchase price, rating, whether it’s been read or un-read, tags, and personal notes about the issue.
Even though the app costs $14.99 in iTunes, CLZ Comic Books has already saved me more than that when I’ve gone to purchase a book I already had.
If you collect comic books or are an avid reader in general, you should consider CLZ Comic Books and CLZ Books (for literary titles) for your organizational needs.
CLZ Comics is currently available in the iTunes store and works on iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices.
While surfing Facebook the other day, I found a BINGO card for readers and immediately tried to see if I could fill the card with books I’ve read.
I started to realize that I had a mix of novels and comics that I was trying to fit onto the card and then it hit me…why not make a BINGO card of my own, specifically for comic books?
A few hours later after looking over my own comic book shelf and pulling my brain apart, I had my BINGO card. In my excitement to create my game, I overlooked the fact that it’s my game and I can’t even get a BINGO. Well, it looks like I’ve given myself a challenge and it’s one I’m going to be skipping all the way to the comic book store to complete.
Here’s how to play!
Each square has a reading requirement. If you have read a title that fits the description, you get a check mark on that square.
Each title can be used only once (for example: If you use Guardians of the Galaxy as a “Best-Selling Title” then you can’t use it for the “Series that is now a TV show or a movie”).
BINGO is achieved when you have filled an entire row either horizontally, diagonally, or vertically.
So, can you claim Comic Book BINGO champion? How many squares can you fill?
Marvel Comics is building to its latest event, the Spider-Verse, which promises to bring together the variety of wall-crawlers from across the various Marvel alternate universes for some epic action. Edge of Spider-Verse #2, released last week, introduces a new Spider hero that has immediately captured the attention of comic fans everywhere: Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman.
Imagine that of instead biting Peter Parker that fateful day, the irradiated spider found Gwen Stacy. What would become of Pete? How will Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy of the NYPD, react to the vigilante? In just one issue, Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez bring us into this intriguing and, of course, amazing Spider-verse.
The high energy of every page and Gwen’s struggle with being viewed as a villain, not a hero, in this alternate universe create a book that just begs to be on ongoing series.
“We get to interpret the character of Gwen in this new light,” said Rodriguez in a Marvel.com interview. “We get to punk her out a bit, and make her a kind of heroine that even more female readers can relate with. Not just a female version of Spider-Man in a different costume, but a stronger character in her own right. A real individual who could, if the opportunity ever arose, take up Spider-Man’s role someday.”
When Gwen isn’t busy swinging across the NYC skyline, she’s the drummer in the band The Mary Janes—when she can actually make it to a gig, that is.
Inspired by Gwen and lead singer Mary Jane Watson, a real band called Married With Sea Monsters made their own version of the song “Face It Tiger” featured in Edge of Spider-Verse #2:
Check out the song, and be sure to pick up the issue, especially if you’d love to see an ongoing title starring Spider-Gwen. The first printing has already sold out, so call your favorite comic shop to see if it’s in stock. Spider-Gwen returns in other Spider-Verse tie-ins coming later this year.
What’s better than Free Comic Book Day? Two Free Comic Book Days each year!
Good news for all of our comic book lovers: Another fun day offering free comic books is heading your way: Halloween ComicFest, featuring Halloween-themed comics. While most shops will celebrate on the designated date of Saturday, October 25, some shops are planning to go all out on Halloween or accommodate other dates. Check with your local shop for their date.
Halloween ComicFest is a single-day event when local comic shops offer free comics with a Halloween theme. Many shops also plan fun activities such as costume contests, giveaways, sales, guest appearances by comic artists and celebrities, and more. Starting October 1, some shops will have packs of 20 mini-comics for sale for $4.99, so you can hand them out to trick-or-treaters or use them as party favors. Over 1,500 shops are participating in HCF, so remember to check in with your shop!
Full-size comic examples include Rachel Rising #1, Scooby Doo Team Up #1 Featuring Batman, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and Afterlife with Archie, which got tons of positive talk this past season. Additionally, who can resist Hero Cats/Princeless or Fathom: The Adventures of Ernie, featuring an adorable seahorse in a lovely aquatic world on the cover?
Mini-comics include Vamplets: The Undead Pet Society, Angry Birds, Betty and Veronica, Plants vs. Zombies: Timepocalypse, and more.
When you get one of the free comics, you are eligible for the “Greatest Halloween Contest Ever.” Just take a picture in costume while holding a HCF2014 comic and submit the photo to HCF at halloweencomicfest.com. Watch the HCF Facebook page or follow them on Twitter at @halloweencomic to avoid scary developments!
Welcome to this year’s back to school guide! We have a nice mix of gadgets, accessories, books, and clothing to outfit your student with for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. We’ve got backpacks, fitness trackers, cameras, laptops, and books. Oh my!
Gadgets and Accessories
Misfit Shine ($99.00)
Shine is a wearable fitness tracker that is capable of tracking your activities and sleep with only a watch battery and Bluetooth technology. Misfit Shine comes with a magnetic clip and a durable sport band (I advise against using the magnetic clip because it falls off easily) and is available in nine colors.
PureGear: PureTek Roll on Screen Shield Kit ($24.99)
Why take the chance on spending $150.00 on screen repair when you can spend $25.00 and prevent it? PureGear: PureTek Roll on Screen Shield Kit is the easiest screen protector I’ve ever used and the first I didn’t have any issues with when putting it on.
PureGear: PureMove ($39.99)
PureMove is a comfortable armband holder for those who like to take their iPhone out on a run with them. I tested this with my own iPhone 5s and it felt very secure inside the casing.
Lenovo Flex 2 ($600.00) The Lenovo Flex 2 is the laptop of choice when it comes to needing enough power to get school work done without the worry of your student getting caught up in extensive online gaming. The screen flips 300 degrees for those who prefer to use the touchscreen element or watch a movie.
BiteMyApple.co: JUMP ($49.99)
If size matters to you when it comes to carrying around a spare battery, you can’t get much smaller than the BiteMyApple.co: JUMP. The downside to its size is that it will only give you around 30% more power on your iPhone battery and you can only use it once per charging cycle. On the upside, its small size allows it to fit in your pocket and it light as a feather to carry around.
JunoPower: JunoJUMPR ($99.00)
JunoPower: JunoJUMPR works on both your electronics and your car. Providing 12 volts at 300 amps it can bring your car or motorcycle back to life with the included jumper cables and it can also be used to charge your electronic devices.
Big Red Button – USB Powered Rage Relief Device ($14.99)
Who doesn’t love a big red button that they can push to make their screen blow up, make it look like they are working (or studying), or let them punch something in the face as many times as they desire? I have mine on my desk at work and it’s great for those moments I need a little stress relief in my day.
Polaroid Z2300 10-megapixel Digital Instant Print Camera ($179.99) To capture those special school moments, the Polaroid Z2300 brings an old school classic to new school. You can either print the photos you want to keep or save them to the camera and drop them on your computer. I like this camera because unlike previous Polaroid cameras, I can pick and choose what to waste my paper on. The 2×3 size paper makes it perfect for smaller scrapbooks.
Keyport Slide 2.0 Bundle – Ultimate Keychain Replacement ($99.99)
This is the master of all key rings. You can have up to six different keys or tools in this one compact case. I like the flashlight, 32 GB USB drive, and house key sliders. You can also have a bottle opener, pen, Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock, barcode insert (for your reward card barcodes), and your car key even if it’s a chipped model. It’s your modern Swiss army knife.
Kikkerland KRL32TC Dog LED Keychain with Sound ($6.88)
Every backpack looks cooler with key chains hanging off of it, so why not make one of them useful? This adorable puppy shoots bright lights out of his eyes, lighting the way when needed. Oh, and you can also use it to hold keys.
Pyle Audio Light Up Erasable Board ($80.00) For those that want a cooler board than the traditional white board check out this cool board by Pyle Audio. I have one in my office and I use it to write encouraging messages to myself.
Building Block Flash Drive ($9.49)
Flash drives have become the new office supply that you can never have enough of, especially during back to school days. How about getting a few back ups, made to look like Lego building blocks, so the kids can have their own? Warning: These are just as painful to step on as real Lego bricks, so keep them off the floor!
Rubik’s Cube Flash Drive ($24.90)
What better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube than to have a few tucked into your kid’s backpack? Or maybe this is one item you can say you bought for the kids, but ends up in your office supply basket?
Iron Man Flash Drive ($10.99)
This is one way to make homework fun—load it up on an Iron Man flash drive! This is one back to school accessory that won’t get lost along the way.
Guitar Flash Drive ($9.69)
For all those musicians in your house, there is nothing classier than having your school flash drive be a small guitar. A fun conversation starter with teachers and friends.
AquaNotes ($7.00 each or 5-pack for $28)
Have you ever noticed that some of the best ideas or forgotten thoughts come to you while in the shower? That’s because when you are in the water, your mind goes into a kind of meditative state and things come forward that may have been pushed back. It drives me nuts when this happens because when I leave the shower I’ll more than likely forget whatever it was I remembered again. This is where AquaNotes comes in. AquaNotes are waterproof notepads that you can write in while in the shower. They are perforated so when you dry off, you can take your notes with you. The suction cups on the notepad and the pencil make it easy to attach to the shower walls in between you genius thoughts. AquaNotes come in traditional blank pages and fun word game pages.
William Shakespeare’s: Star Wars translations ($9.00 and up)
No class on Shakespeare is complete without Ian Doescher’s translation of the Star Wars trilogy. It’s by far the coolest way to learn and with references to original Shakespeare plays, it’s a fun way to get kids to find the hidden meanings. Check out the teacher’s guide to learn how to use these three books to help your child understand the Shakespearean language.
Nick and Tesla’s Gadget Glove ($10.00) Nick and Tesla’s Gadget Glove gets kids reading about a fun adventure between to kids and along the way, the reader is instructed on how to build the glove that the main characters use in the story. You don’t get all of the instructions at one time, so it encourages kids to finish the book to learn how to make the glove 100%.
Piggy Island ($9.00) Piggy Island takes readers into the world of the bad piggies from Angry Birds. Any Angry Birds fan will appreciate the humor in seeing how King Pig rules his subjects and what goes on when they are not fighting the Angry Birds. While it doesn’t teach mathematics or science, it will give your reader a break from the serious and enjoy some fun.
Yogi Bear: Life is a Picnic Basket ($9.00) For Yogi Bear, life is a picnic basket and in this hardcover title, Yogi gives advice on seeing the glass half full. I don’t think there is another bear out there who I would trust to give me life advice.
World of Warcraft Journal ($16.00) Journaling is a great way to reduce stress in your day and help you put your mind at ease before bed. Get your student off to a great start by giving them a cool journal they will be happy to take with them everywhere. While the theme of this journal is World of Warcraft, the name of the game is nowhere on the journal once you remove the paper wrapper, so if they are into Dragons, but not the game, this is still a cool looking option.
Marvel Heroes and Villains Poster Collection ($18.00)
Decorate that dorm room with some Avengers posters. For $18.00 you get 40 posters in a humble 11 x 17 size. My favorite part of this book are the movie posters they included. They are just the right size for the average size dorm room and you can swap them out easily for a quick change in decor.
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor($9.00) With a main character with the name “Frank Einstein,” you know that something will get zapped by lightning and that’s when the real fun begins. The author did a nice job intertwining real science in with a story about a creative and fun main character.
Explorer Series ($10.00) The Explorer Series is the first graphic novel series on this list and for good reason. The story isn’t hero driven or politically oriented. It has beautiful art that draws you into the story and has enough humor, suspense, and darkness to interest kids today. Each of the books in the series revolves around something mysterious and are great for those that like to read multiple short stories that tie together in a nice little package.
NERDS Series ($8.00) NERDS stands for: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. What happens when a group of unpopular fifth graders start their own spy network and run it within the halls of their school? You get a fun story about kids turning their nerd qualities into extraordinary abilities with some James Bond-like villains thrown in. This series is told in a traditional chapter book format.
The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic($ 8.00) Anytime I can learn something through a comic book format, I’m all for it. The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic takes us on an adventure with Geo and his robot pup, Rocky, as they travel back in time to Pangea to wade the dangers that lurks there and race to get back in time for class.
Learn to Program with Scratch($24.00)
Scratch is a language that is kid friendly to learn and explore the basic elements of programming in general. The book is aimed at young minds and illustrates examples throughout the book. I’d recommend this title for anyone in the 4th grade and up.
Foundations in Comic Book Art ($19.00)
Get your inspiring comic book artist off on the right start with Foundations in Comic Book Art. With step-by-step lessons and exercises for future artists, this title will make a nice addition to their school books this year.
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig ($9.99 and up depending on format) Ken Ludwig, may be a successful playwright and author in his own right for Broadway hits like Lend Me A Tenor and Crazy for You, but his book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, celebrates another scribe, William Shakespeare, with contagious enthusiasm.
Rather than the dry interpretation of many of Shakespeare’s classics like Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest, Ludwig makes the stories—and The Bard’s writing style—adventurous and fun.
Readers are challenged, in Ludwig’s friendly, witty, and conversational style, to read passages aloud for themselves, then with their kids. Parents will also find themselves learning a bit more about Shakespeare in the process. They might even get some of the more melodic passages stuck in their head like a catchy tune (“I know a bank where the wild thyme grows”).
Although the primary focus of this book is the appreciation and interpretation of Shakespeare, its memory exercises can also help the mind stay fresh for other subjects and tasks.
Give this book as a companion book to any of Shakespeare’s works in book or video form.
Lunch Boxes and Backpacks
Cotapaxi Backpacks (starting at $79.00)
When choosing your backpack this year, consider Cotapaxi’s lightweight backpacks and give back to underprivileged children in Peru at the same time. The backpacks are built by designers from leading companies including: Nike, Columbia, Sportwear, and Marmot Mountain. The backpacks start at $79.00 and pays for a week of onsite tutoring for a child in Peru.
R2-D2 Tin Lunch Box ($29.99)
What Star Wars fan wouldn’t be excited about bringing their lunch to school in a cool R2-D2 lunch box? It has great reviews for durability and likability.
Hello Kitty Lunch Box ($19.99)
An adorable option for the Hello Kitty fan, this lunch box will inspire good nutrition and great conversation at the school lunch table.
Aquarius Fender Amp Lunch Box ($10.99)
Be the coolest kid at the lunch table with this authentic looking Fender amplifier lunch box. The teachers might be as intrigued as the kids sitting next to you.
Boombox Lunch Box ($12.99)
With detailed authenticity on every side, fool the teachers (or co-workers) into thinking you’ve brought some tunes along for the lunch hour. Deep enough for a thermos and cool enough for kids or adults.
OGIO: Newt Backpack ($99.00)
If your student has a laptop (up to 15″) to drag back and forth I recommend the OGIO: Newt Backpack. I use it for my laptop anytime I’m going out of town and it holds my laptop, a couple of notebooks, and plenty of comics to get me through my journey. The compartments for the laptop and its accessories are padded with a soft velvety material to protect them while in transit. There is also a chest strap for added support if they want to clip it in place.
Bag of Holding—Con-Survival Edition ($29.99)
ThinkGeek has given us the Bag of Holding and now they have the Bag of Holding—Con-Survival Edition. The really cool part about this bag is the clear vinyl iPad pocket that lets you work your iPad without taking it out of the bag. The soft area on the front is great for attaching patches and pins for collecting. I like to carry this when my daily tasks involve my iPad and taking notes.
Health and First Aid
MediBuddy First Aid Kit ($5.99)
These mini first aid kits come with all the basics (band-aids, sting relief, burn cream, etc.) and will easily fit in a backpack or mom’s purse. Kid-friendly packaging make them fun to carry. Maybe grab one for the bottom of the diaper bag too.
AAA 85 Piece First Aid Kit ($24.99)
Do you have a first aid kit in your minivan or other kid hauling vehicle? The first time you have a bee sting, bump, or cut while on the go, you’ll be thankful you thought of it. This one easily fits under the seat, is filled with all the essentials, and can be refilled as needed.
TOMS Red Chemical Structure Women’s Classics Slip-On Shoes ($54.00)
TOMS is celebrating back to school with this nerdy chemistry pattern. Comfortable, stylish, and geeky! GeekMom Ariane is happy to see them offered in women sizes, because TOMS has had some geeky patterns available only in men sizes in the past.
Her Universe Marvel Line ($20.00 and up)
Her Universe is full of awesome lines for the female geek to outfit their new school year. One of my favorites is the Captain America Cardigan because it’s light enough to carry in my backpack, but still keeps me comfortable in a cold room. When purchasing anything Her Universe, I suggest you go one size up to account for shrinkage. In terms of the cardigan, I would go two sizes up if you like it a little loose around your arms.
Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week, Corrina talks about her haul from Boston Comic Con, Princess Ugg continues her journey to be a true leader to her people, Sophie looks at a rather confusing issue of The X-Files, and last but not least, Lisa dives in with a one-shot Guardians title. Dakster Sullivan — Princess Ugg #3 written and drawn by Ted Naifeh
Princess Ugg is one of my favorite titles to come out of Oni Press. Actually, with its strong female lead and real-life struggles of young girls when it comes to fitting in and getting through life, it’s one of my favorite titles period. Princess Ugg is not the typical princess. After the death of her mother, she goes on a journey to learn as much as she can so she can one day rule her people to the best of her ability.
Issue #3 reveals what really set her on a path to a school where she is clearly the unwelcome outsider. Princess Ugg’s people are warriors and we learn that war has been her people’s way of life for so long, they don’t know of a time when there wasn’t fighting going on with someone. This was a path that Ugg’s mother wanted to change, but died too early to see to it herself. With her dying breath, she placed the burden to find a new way on her daughter.
Princess Ugg seems to be up to the challenge, but she still isn’t sure if she made the right choice in showing up at the school to begin with. By the end of the issue, we see Ugg make an ally at the school and get her first challenge to start learning what it is she needs to know to help her people.
I could say the same about all of these titles. I knew that the Marvel 70th Anniversary Collection, first published five years ago, would be good, but I didn’t expect it to include a cracky Captain America and Bucky cross-dressing tale, the origin of Groot, a wonderful story from Marvels about the first Human Torch, and a classic Spider-Man tale. If you’re unfamiliar with the Marvel Universe but love it from the movies, read this book. If you love Marvel already, read this book.
And in the same vein, Stern’s Invaders collection from the 1990s was a terrific, wonderful surprise, with the three main Invaders going up against Baron Von Strucker. (You might recognize the name from the after-credits scene at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) Plus: It’s an oddball Marvel super-team adventure, set in the 1950s. I love these kinds of stories. Heralds is a terrific contemporary story featuring many women in the Marvel Universe trying to help meld the former Galactus Herald Frankie Raye back into a real person. Hellcat has all of the best lines, but what starts as a fun romp ends far more poignantly, as the cost of heroism becomes clear. I haven’t read the Human Target book yet, but crime noir with Cliff Chiang art? SOLD.
Sophie Brown — The X-Files Season 10 #15 written by Joe Harris and drawn by Matthew Dow Smith
“There’s a lot of history here,” Scully tells us as she makes her first appearance in this month’s issue of The X-Files. She’s referring to Skyland Mountain, the location where she is now standing and from which, almost 20 years ago, she was abducted. However, she may as well be referring to the issue at large. This issue is a veritable treasure trove of easter eggs for fans. There are throwbacks to season two’s “Apocrypha,” season four’s “Talitha Cumi,” season five’s “Patient X,” and many many more. This issue wraps up the season’s second five-part arc, “Pilgrims”—at least it wraps it up as well as any X-Files mytharc story-line was ever wrapped up, meaning that there are a lot of questions left unanswered. During last month’s controversial Issue #14, Mulder was controlled by an alien entity named Sheltem and this month sees him quickly dump our gangly protagonist for reasons that aren’t altogether obvious. Jumping into the body of a local sheriff, Sheltem disappears into the night, but not after leaving behind a somewhat unnecessary body count for good measure.
There’s a really lovely reversal of a scene from season two’s “Ascension,” as Scully looks over footage from an in-car police video recorder to establish what has been happening to Mulder at Skyland Mountain. Her finding him safe and well (almost) at the bottom of the sky tram track feels like them coming full circle too, if we look back to 1994 when he fought his way to the top of the same track only to find her stolen away. The pair of them get to share a tender moment—and a genuine one too, as neither of them appear to be currently possessed or a shapeshifter this time. Scully strikes a somewhat heartbreaking figure as she stands alone, hugging herself and staring up the mountain as they talk briefly of their son, even if their talk is cut short all too quickly.
She experiences a terrifying flashback to the events of “Patient X,” either that or she has suddenly gained some sort of psychic super-sense as she stares wide-eyed into the forest and whispers to Mulder, “Don’t you feel it on the wind?” Away from Mulder and Scully, Krycek isn’t faring so well. Once again under the thumb of the Smoking Man, we get to see a level of violence and use of language that was omitted from the show’s TV days. We finally begin to piece together what has been going on with him throughout this arc, and when really considered, it’s altogether horrifying. Thrown into the events at Skyland Mountain by the CSM’s mysterious new superior, Krycek soon discovers that he might be about to experience a significant change in his life. I’ll be interested to see what direction his story will take now, as his character offers almost endless possibilities.
The issue ends back in the New York offices of The Syndicate. There’s a lot of old faces here, faces who even in silence pose their own questions. With one final throwback to the show, we get to see a final glimpse at the truth behind their re-appearances after the events of the movie and “One Son.” There are more questions here than answers, as always, but there are also new possibilities. Age Recommendation: Teen +
Lisa Tate — Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel 100th Anniversary Issue) written by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz and drawn by Gustavo Durarte and Edgar Delgado
The idea behind the release of this comic is more confusing than the story. Released as if it were prediction of what the comic might be like in the year 2069 (a century after the original Guardians of the Galaxy team debuted), it is also billed as a one-shot with an ending that might indicate otherwise.
The comic manages to make The Guardians even more off-beat, and the plot even more “out there” than before, but it isn’t done in such a way that is hard to follow. Duarte and Delgado’s artwork is just plain fun, and the character depictions are well-suited for the story. It was my favorite element of this comic. I can even see some die-hard Groot fans bringing this book to their neighborhood tattoo artist for design inspiration.
The character mashups and reinventions are plentiful: Gamora is Star Lord, Rocket has a trio of alien nephews/sons at his disposal, and Drax has returned to his Martian Manhunter-like old-school look. Iron Man is Tony Stark’s disembodied consciousness in mess of nano-bots. Lanning’s influence also brings back characters Vance Astro and Charlie-72. Cosmo the space dog also makes a much-appreciated appearance.
Galactus, the story’s main threat, has absorbed the Silver Surfer, which has turned him into, not surprisingly, Silver Galactus. There are some problematic story elements, in that those who haven’t followed Dan Abnett’s and Andy Lanning’s 31st Century Guardians series might feel as if they have been dumped in an unfamiliar group with no previous introduction. It’s not too hard to catch on though, and the story is still a fun and fast read.
Those who have been seriously following all recent Guardians of the Galaxy series might not want to take this one too seriously, but fortunately, the writers don’t seem to want readers to do much more than just hang on for the wild ride. Age Recommendation: Teen +
Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:
Astro City #14 Batgirl #34 Gail Simone’s Final Issue
Batman #34 Batman Earth One TP
Batman Eternal #19 Birds Of Prey #34 (Final Issue)
Coffin Hill #10 Constantine #17
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #13
Flash Vol. 3 Gorilla Warfare TP
Flash Vol. 4 Reverse HC
Green Lantern Corps #34
Green Lantern Wrath Of The First Lantern TP
Harley Quinn #9
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe Vol. 3 TP
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two #9
Invisibles Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC Justice League United #4 New Series
MAD Magazine #529 New 52 Futures End #15 Weekly Series New Suicide Squad #2 New Series
Preacher Vol. 5 TP Scooby-Doo Where Are You #48 Kid Friendly Smallville Season 11 Chaos #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series Superboy #34 (Final Issue)
Superman Wonder Woman #11 World’s Finest #26
All-New X-Men #30 Amazing Spider-Man #5 GeekMom Recommended
Amazing X-Men #10 Avengers #31
Avengers Undercover #8
Avengers World #11
Captain America #23
Captain America Vol. 4
The Iron Nail HC Captain Marvel #6 GeekMom Recommended
Deadpool #33 Deadpool By Daniel Way The Complete Collection Vol. 4 TP
Deadpool Dracula’s Gauntlet #6 (Of 7)
Fantastic Four #8
Hulk #5 Inhuman #3 New Series
Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble #11
Nightcrawler #5 Nova Special #1 GeekMom Recommended
Original Sin #7 (Of 8) Spider-Man 2099 #2 New Series
Ultimate FF #6 United States Of Murder Inc #4 New Series
Wolverine And The X-Men #7
X-Force #8 X-Men #18
Dave Gibbons Watchmen Artifact Edition HC
G.I. JOE Silent Interlude 30th Anniversary Edition HC Godzilla Cataclysm #1 (Of 5) New Mini-Series Judge Dredd Anderson Psi-Division #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series Littlest Pet Shop #4 (Of 5) Kid Friendly
Maxx Maxximized #10 My Little Pony Animated Vol. 3 The Return Of Harmony TP Kid Friendly My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #22 Kid Friendly Squidder #1 (Of 4) Kid Friendly
Star Trek #36
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #37 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #14 Kid Friendly Transformers Primacy #1 New Series Transformers Vs G.I. JOE #1 New Series
X-Files Season 10 #15
Abe Sapien #15 Blackout #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Creepy Comics #17 Dark Ages #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Ghost #7 Guns Of Shadow Valley HC Lobster Johnson Get The Lobster #5 (Of 5) Final Issue
Marvel Classic Characters Uncanny X-Men #94 #1 Storm
Samurai Executioner Omnibus Vol. 2 TP
Star Wars #20 Star Wars Legacy II Vol. 3 Wanted Ania Solo TP
Star Wars The Lucas Draft HC
Terminator Salvation The Final Battle #8 (Of 12)
Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback
On a recent attic purge at the in-laws, we acquired something new to us: two boxes of the most varied ’80s comics you can imagine. The Toxic Avenger, Jello Man, Animaniacs, Spider-Man, you name it. My 4-year-old son could barely contain his joy. Having discovered comic books at PortCon last summer, he has read the few comic books he has so many times over they don’t even pretend to hang together anymore.
So for the last few weeks we have spent the early morning hours, little brother’s afternoon nap, and much of bedtime, curled up in the big armchair reading, but also not reading comic books. How do you not read a comic book you are reading? Well, it turns out that not all cutesy comic books are created equal. (I’m looking at you Warner Brothers.) Some that seem to be good for a younger audience on the surface, actually contain some interesting language and metaphor choices that we’d rather not explain at this stage. So we selectively read for some time, skipping over certain frames and pages, before determining that the collection needed to be culled.
We sat down one evening and went through hundreds of comics, determining which ones were good for now and which ones could be put aside for a few years. Now, some things are obvious. Most comic books that my friends read are not suitable for my 4-year-old. But some of the characters he loves, and that seem age-appropriate, aren’t always the best reading for little ears. So, if you get handed a collection of similarly random comic books, here are our criteria:
1. The Wolf Whistle Test. Any comics that depict a male character momentarily morphing into a wolf when a girl passes by—instantly gone. Don’t get me wrong; there are classic cartoons that contain this kind of imagery that I would love to share with him in years to come. At this young age, when he is absorbing the world around him like a sponge, that’s not an ideal I care to teach him.
2. The Language Test. None of the comic books we had in our stack contained any actual cursing, but there was a great deal of snark and sarcasm. Now, I am all about the snark and sarcasm. My pastor would say that sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts, but on a 4-year-old, it is not cute. Animaniacs J’accuse!
3. The Violence Test. Some of the superheroes that my son adores are much more violent in the comic books than they are in the cartoons and movies. The language often describes what’s going on, but a picture speaks a thousand words. On the whole, I avoid many of the superhero comic books at this stage, but some of the more cartoon-like ones can still contain more violence than you would expect.
4. The Nudity Test. Closely linked to the Wolf Whistle test, this speaks more to the clothing of a character than the relationships depicted. A lack of clothing, on either sex, is a big no for our comic book library. My son gets more curious each day, and images in comics like The Toxic Crusader prompt questions that I’d rather deal with in about eight years’ time.
When all was said and done, we packed away about half of the Animaniacs comic books, most of the DC/Marvel lines, and were left with a good collection of Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbera comics. My son is perfectly happy with Yogi Bear, and hasn’t noticed the shrinking pile. It is much easier to read to him now that we aren’t stumbling to edit a sentence every page or so.
Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Today, I’m excited to check out a very early release of Pat Shand’s latest creation in Robyn Hood #1 and Corrina sees what happens when you take a fairy tale, throw in a touch of love, and finish if off with some sci-fi.
Dakster Sullivan — Robyn Hood #1 written by Pat Shand and art by Larry Watts
The first issue of Robyn Hood’s ongoing series was everything I could ask for and more. We get an explanation as to why Marian cut off her long locks and what she and Robyn have been doing since coming back from Myst.
Now working as private detectives, Robyn does the dirty work and Marian works the office. By “works,” I mean she has declared that everything technology is wicked and cursed. (I think I know a few people like that at my office.)
This first story arc takes us into the underground of a soul-stealing priest and the ending was enough of a cliffhanger to leave us hanging without pulling our hair out screaming, “What happens next?!?!?”
For cosplay purposes, I like how they have Robyn wearing a glamour lens during some of her escapades. It makes it a lot easier to not get trolled at conventions for not having a mystical glowing eye.
At the end of the issue, I couldn’t be happier for the adventure Pat Shand has put us on and let me say that it’s about freaking time Robyn got her own series instead of a little five-issue mini-series.
Corrina — Trilliumby Jeff Lemire, writer and illustrator, due out on 8/12/2014
This is a love story, a fairy tale, and a hard science-fiction story. It’s a story of the loss of the entire human race on one side, and the loss of innocence of a generation on the other side. It should be impossible to pack this much into one story, but Lemire succeeds, especially at knowing when to back off on words and let the pictures tell the story.
The two leads of Trillium are at opposite ends of space and time. Nika Temsmith is a botanist searching for a flower that can cure a rapidly-spreading plague taking out the human race. At the heart of her search is a mysterious pyramid on an alien world. William Pike is a renowned explorer scarred by his experience as a soldier in World War I, and at the heart of his explorations is a mysterious pyramid.
William and Nika both go into the pyramid, but they don’t go out quite the same. To say more would give away all of the twists and turns in this story. It’s beautiful, sad, and the artwork is complimentary to how jagged the worlds of Nika and William can be.
Age level: 10 + for mature themes
Bodies #1 written by Si Spencer, art by Meghan Hetrick-Murante, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay, and Phil Winslade
Four time periods, four highly unusual detectives, one setting (London), and one body that appears to be the same in all their worlds; that’s the premise of this new Vertigo series. The time periods are 1890s Victorian-era London, 1940s London, modern-day London featuring a multi-cultural detective, and 2050, with a detective who has trouble even remembering her own name. Each time period is handled by one writer, with the Victorian setting being the most familiar to Sherlock Holmes readers, while the future setting is the trippiest and most unusual.
It all works, at least in this first issue, with the detectives and their cases introduced well, with no one setting crowding out the others. It’s a delicate balance—but so far, so good.
Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Today on Comic Book Corner, a storm is brewing with Storm, Wonderland, and The Unwritten set to take the stage.
Dakster Sullivan — Grimm Fairy Tales verses Wonderland #1 of 5 by Troy Brownfield and art by Luca Claretti
I’m not a huge fan of Zenescope’s Wonderland series, because it’s a very dark and can be a pretty gruesome story-line to read. When I realized that Wonderland would be going up against Sela in this mini-series, I put aside my feelings about the art and started down the rabbit hole.
My curiosity was rewarded with not one, but two strong female leads, one of whom is also a mother.
The overall first book seems to be just a huge misunderstanding after Sela (Grimm Fairy Tales Heroine) decides to kick tail before asking questions. I’m not surprised though, because she states early on in the story that she hates “Wonderland crap.” The violence that was there wasn’t overwhelming like watching a slicer horror flick. Considering how this issue ended, I’m excited to see what happens next. I might even have to pick this up when it comes out in trade.
Kay Moore — The Unwritten Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworld and Vol. 9: The Unwritten Fables by Mike Carey and art by Peter Gross
In this collected volume of issues (42-49 of The Unwritten), the story spirals around, with many main characters, including Tom Taylor, visiting Hades. He discovers that right and wrong and debts and gifts are not read the way we write them. Carey subverts my unconscious ideas of the underworld, minions, dark lords, sidekicks, and dozens of other tropes while simultaneously honoring them—an approach that had me wondering about my own interpretations. With The Unwritten series sprawling through all of fiction and all of the world, I was afraid that as it progressed, it would become unreadable, but this graphic novel answered some of my questions, gave me some new moves to admire, and had me breathless again for the next installment. Age recommendation: 17-years-old and up.
The Unwritten Vol. 9: The Unwritten Fables by Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, Peter Gross, and Mark Buckingham is a cross-over between The Unwritten and Fables, both iconic, idiosyncratic, and entertaining comic storyverses. Our story begins with Unwritten‘s Tommy Taylor seeking to mend the wound that threatens the bonding of stories and the material world. At the same time, in a Fables storyverse, the mundane Earth and many other lands have been overtaken by a dark lord and a small surviving contingent of Fables are using spells to resist him. When Tommy’s and the Fables’ paths and purposes cross, another ingenious story is set in motion. In the Unwritten series, I enjoy the richness of literary references; in this telling, there are all sorts of childhood fables incorporated from Bill Willingham’s popular Fables mega-series. I read it as a natural marriage of stories, weaving the strands of other stories and creating one beautiful tapestry that entertained and occasionally surprised me.
Age recommendation: 17-years-old and up.
GeekMom received a review copy of these titles.
Kelly Knox — Storm #1 by Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez
X-Men was the first title I read as a kid, and the reason I really got hooked on comics. I loved the team dynamics, and found the characters endlessly fascinating, especially Storm. Ororo Munroe is compelling and mysterious, but always seemed aloof and enigmatic. Storm #1, out last week, re-captured the feeling I had then toward the title character, but is filled with the promise that I’ll finally get to know Ororo Munroe.
The first issue of Storm’s ongoing series opens with her floating in the clouds, and thanks to Victor Ibanez’s gorgeous art, you feel like you’re hovering alongside her. In every panel she seems regal and powerful (which is no surprise since she was once a queen). In this first issue, you see Storm on her own for most of the story, but still get the team dynamic that I love so much about the X-Men as Hank McCoy provides support.
The action also shifts to the mansion, or The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning as it’s known now, showing you both sides of Storm’s life as a hero and a headmistress.
Storm #1 is an excellent place to get into (or back into) comic books. The story is clearly just getting started, and there are no references to other goings-on in the Marvel Universe that might make you feel like you’re missing out on something. If you’ve ever loved the X-Men, pick up Storm #1 to get back into their world.
DRM Free Backups Available from ComiXology…Sort Of
ComiXology announced the latest update to their service allows for you to download DRM free backups of “some” of your purchases. By some, they mean none of the major publishers are included. I can understand why Marvel and DC Comics wouldn’t want their customers to back up their comics. It’s like giving us a paper copy of it to pass along as they…wait…ohh that’s what we do with our regular comics isn’t it? Okay. In that case, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let their customers have their comics in a form they can back up.
I currently have over 1,200 comics in my ComiXology account, and of those books only about 20 are available to back up. You could say I feel a little bummed and cheated by this new service. Especially since the books that I’m able to download a back up of, I don’t care about because they were free to begin with. Hopefully Marvel and DC Comics will work something out so their customers can actually own the comics they buy, but until then, I’m not holding my breath.
Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:
Adventures Of Superman #15 Ame-Comi Girls Vol. 2 Rise Of The Brainiac TP GM
Aquaman Annual #2
Batman Eternal #17 Batman Li’l Gotham Vol. 2 TP Kid Friendly
Batman The Dark Knight Vol. 3 Mad TP
Batman The Dark Knight Vol. 4 Clay HC
Batwing Vol. 4 Welcome To The Family TP Bodies #1 (Of 8) New Mini Series DC Comics Presents Batman Adventures #1 Kid Friendly
Detective Comics Annual #3
Doom Patrol Omnibus HC Harley Quinn #8 GM
Justice League #32
New 52 Futures End #13
Red Lanterns Annual #1
Sandman Overture #3 (Of 6)
Smallville Season 11 Special #5
Vertigo Quarterly Magenta #1 Wake #10 (Of 10) Final Issue
100th Anniversary Special Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 Movie comes out Friday!
All-New Invaders Vol. 1 Gods And Soldiers TP
All-New Ghost Rider #5
Avengers World #10 Cyclops #3 New Series
Deadpool Dracula’s Gauntlet #4 (Of 7) Guardians Of The Galaxy #17 GM Hawkeye #19 GM
Human Torch By Karl Kesel And Skottie Young The Complete Collection TP
Iron Man Special #1
Iron Patriot #5
Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 8 TP
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy The Art Of The Movie Slipcase HC
Mighty Avengers Vol. 2 Family Bonding TP
New Avengers #21
Original Sin #3.3
Runaways The Complete Collection Vol. 1 TP
Secret Avengers #6
Spider-Man The Complete Alien Costume Saga Vol. 1 TP
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man Vol. 2 The Crime Of The Century TP
Ultimate FF #5
Uncanny Avengers #22
Uncanny X-Men #24
X-Men Magneto Testament TP
Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War #2 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Danger Girl May Day #3 (Of 4)
G.I. JOE The Complete Collection Vol. 5 HC
Infestation Omnibus TP
Jinnrise Vol. 2 TP
Locke And Key The Covers Of Gabriel Rodriguez HC
Metal Gear Solid Complete Deluxe Edition HC
Rip Kirby Vol. 7 HC
Samurai Jack #10
Star Slammers Re-Mastered #5
Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 5 TP
Transformers Robots In Disguise #31
Wraith Welcome To Christmasland HC
Zombies Vs Robots Z-Boyz In The Robot Graveyard Prose TP
Baltimore The Witch Of Harju #1 (Of 3) New Mini Series
Captain Midnight #13 Deep Gravity #1 (Of 4) New Mini Series
EC Archives Two-Fisted Tales Vol. 3 HC
Emily And The Strangers Breaking The Record #2 (Of 3)
Gasoline Alley The Complete Sundays Vol. 2 1923–1925 HC King Conan The Conqueror #6 (Of 6) Final Issue
Mind MGMT #24
Pariah #6 (Of 8) Star Wars Rebel Heist #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Veil #4 (Of 5)
A new Star Wars ongoing comic book series, coming in January, that covers the period of time between Episodes IV and V. Princess Leia grabbing a Rebel pilot helmet and taking center stage. Does all of this sound familiar? It’s because the same thing was announced in 2013.
This weekend at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Comics announced three new Star Wars comic book series coming in 2015. All three titles boast impressive creative talent. Star Wars: Darth Vader, an ongoing series, comes from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca in February. A mini-series, Star Wars: Princess Leia, by writer Mark Waid and artist Terry Dodson, hits comic book store shelves in March. And Jason Aaron and John Cassaday are taking the helm of Star Wars, an ongoing series with a story that begins shortly after the Battle of Yavin as the Rebels begin to plan their next move.
This premise is the same as the Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics that wraps up next month. In the Dark Horse series, writer Brian Wood has taken us from action-packed space battles to Leia-centric storylines that do the character justice through the twenty issue series, and combined with the brilliant artwork from Carlos D’Anda, each issue has maintained a “this feels like Star Wars!” quality.
I’ve enjoyed the series so much that I find it hard to be excited for the new ongoing from Marvel. Of course I’ll pick it up—these comic books, unlike the Expanded Universe, are actually going to be in Star Wars canon. That makes them practically required reading for any Star Wars fan. I’d just be more excited if this wasn’t the same ground that Dark Horse’s series hadn’t already covered well.
I am, however, happily intrigued by Mark Waid writing the five-issue Princess Leia mini-series beginning next March. I’m a fan. But why couldn’t it be an ongoing series? With the other two Star Wars series as both ongoing, this is a noticeable move by Marvel Comics, which has made some otherwise fantastic strides in the number of ongoing female-led books recently. Like the other Star Wars titles, I’ll gladly pick up my five issues of Star Wars: Princess Leia, but… I want the whole cake.
Ever since writer Joe Harris tweeted a rather risqué panel from an issue of The X-Files: Season 10 late last week, the X-Files fan community has been abuzz with excitement. The panel shows Scully, wearing seemingly nothing but one of Mulder’s shirts thrown haphazardly on, knelt over Mulder in bed and pointing a gun in his face while he in turn remarks on how he is “more of a cuddler post-coitus” and suggesting that “sexy gunplay” isn’t really something that suits them.
This then appears to be the fun, sexy X-Files bedroom scene I have dreamed of seeing for over 15 years; but then looks can be deceiving. What we are actually viewing is the aftermath of a rape.
The wider context of the panel, as you can see over at Bloody Disgusting’s free preview, is a three-page scene of Mulder and Scully in their bedroom post coitus. Only Scully is not happy. She’s pointing a gun at Mulder because at some point very recently, she has realized what we as readers have known since the ending of the last issue: The man in her bedroom isn’t really Mulder at all. Oh, it’s Mulder’s body alright, but he’s being possessed by a sentient alien who has taken control over his body and mind and is fully controlling him. That’s where the scene shifts from the adorable to the scary.
1. Would Dana Scully have willingly consented to sexual intercourse with Fox Mulder? Almost certainly, yes. Although the circumstances of that particular night are not known, it has been established that the two are in a healthy, loving, romantic relationship by this point and we can safely assume that sex is a part of it.
2. Would Dana Scully have willingly consented to sexual intercourse with the alien being later identified as Sheltem? Almost certainly not.
3. Would Dana Scully have willingly consented to sexual intercourse with Sheltem knowing that he was controlling Mulder’s body, mentally and physically? Again, almost certainly not.
After answering those questions, we can see that this is indeed a case of deception because Scully would almost certainly not have engaged in sex with “Mulder” if she had known the truth about his identity at the time.
It’s a disturbing case when applied to real life and sadly, not the first time the show has used a similar premise as part of a plot. Season four’s “Small Potatoes” featured a man (Eddie van Blundht) with the ability to shape-shift and appear as anyone else. He uses this power to engage in sexual intercourse with a number of women, appearing variously as their husbands and even as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, before later attempting to seduce Scully by changing himself into Mulder and getting her slightly drunk.
The episode is played out as a comedy, but when viewed through the lens of “rape by deception,” it’s anything but funny. In fact, that episode contains one of the most disturbing lines ever uttered on mainstream network television as Eddie tries to explain away his actions:
“Look, I’m not saying anything one way or another. I’m just saying hypothetically, if some women wanted to have kids, their husbands weren’t… capable, and everybody was happy and no one got hurt, well hypothetically, where’s the crime?”
I find myself saddened that this same trope has been reeled out once again within the X-Files canon. However, what concerns me even more is that the situation doesn’t appear to have been recognized for what it is.
I’m going to give Mr. Harris the benefit of the doubt because I do not believe for one second that he is intentionally “playing the rape card” here. If you had just discovered that your partner/boyfriend had been possessed by an alien being that is now possibly about to kill you both, you probably have more pressing issues than confronting it on sexual assault charges.
There is every possibility that once the “real” Mulder is returned, presumably in the next issue, that Scully will open up on a long, emotional discussion about what has happened to them both; but realistically speaking, that feels unlikely. In fact, Scully seems completely unaware of what has happened to her, merely angry about what has been done to Mulder. The whole scene seems to serve no purpose other than to give Scully a means of recognizing that the man with her is not Mulder, possibly (and if so, even more disturbingly) as one panel suggests, because he has been overly rough with her in bed.
Once Scully recognizes the alien for what it is, the creature knocks the gun from her hand and pins her to the floor by her throat where the following lines are exchanged:
Sheltem: “You want to see then? Is this what you want?” Scully: “Get – Hnnn – Off of me!” Sheltem: “Surrender yourself to me, Dana Scully…”
The pair are actually discussing Sheltem showing Scully information related to the alien/government conspiracy that underpins the entire franchise, but the very particular choice of phrasing combined with the image of a man pinning an almost naked woman to the floor by her throat paints a very different, far more sexually violent image. It’s deeply disturbing on its own and to anyone who has experienced sexual assault (and as the “Yes All Women” trend showed us, that’s an enormous percentage of the population), it’s terrifyingly familiar.
One final point that must be raised is the role of Mulder himself, or more accurately his consciousness, during all this. Later in the issue, Sheltem informs Scully as they drive that:
“I can assure you [Mulder]’s fighting this right now.”
This line strongly suggests that Mulder is awake and aware of his surroundings and actions whilst he’s being possessed. This, in turn, leads to the idea that Mulder too has been sexually assaulted in a way during the issue’s first scene as he almost certainly did not give permission for it to occur. If you struggle to see this, place yourself in Mulder’s shoes. Another consciousness is fully controlling your body, making you say and do what it wants without concern for your wishes. You then see yourself proposition your partner for sex, aware that he/she is unaware of the truth, but unable to warn them or stop the act from occurring. It may be a fantastic situation, but the emotions and later feelings of defilement are all too real.
There are only two ways a scene like this could be allowed into a published comic book:
1. The author was aware they were writing a rape scene and included it intentionally.
2. The author wrote the scene without recognizing it as a rape at all.
Both are equally worrying and point at the rape culture that is so prevalent in our society. I will be interested to see how many reviews of the issue even tackle this major point, and how many fans identify the opening scene for what it is.
Finally, I ask Joe Harris three questions and invite him to respond here on GeekMom:
1. Was it necessary to include the scene?
2. Was the scene identified as rape in advance of publication?
3. Will there be consequences?
I’ve been following the character of Robyn Hood since her debut in 2012 in Robyn Hood: Wanted #1. My first impressions were that the writer, Patrick Shand, was a jerk who didn’t know how to write female leads. As the series progressed though, I started to see how much he cared about Robyn and saw how the first few pages of her first issue gave her the fight she needed to take care of her home world of Myst and eventually helped her make her first real friends.
Through her journey, I saw her grow into a woman who was a force to be reckoned with and I felt she was such an asset to women as a heroine that I took the time to write to Zenescope asking them to give her the ongoing series she deserved. Now with the third installment of Robyn Hood complete, I’m happy to say that her next adventure will be into the ongoing world in August.
I’ve interviewed Patrick Shand after the first series ended (Robyn Hood) as well as after her second adventure in Robyn Hood: Wanted. Today, he talks to me again, but this time about Robyn’s past, present, and little about her future.
WARNING: SPOILER FILLED
GeekMom: Why was the decision made to bring Will back, only to kill him…again? Pat Shand: I have a creeping suspicion that answering this question honestly is going to sound super pretentious… but, while I love Will as a character and put a lot of myself into him, his death is symbolic of Robyn leaving behind a problematic part of her life.
In saving Nottingham in Volume One, Robyn ascended from being a lost girl in an unfamiliar city to a legend. The people that she saved saw her as something larger than a person, and what a dangerous idea. Legend plays a lot with the idea that putting a person on a pedestal and turning them into a story—Will seeing Robyn as a hero that will see any crisis to the end simply because of who she is, Gisbourne seeing her as a thing to defeat, and Cal especially seeing her as something to destroy—so I thought it was really the only way to go.
But, like all of the characters that really stick with me, Will was more than just the idea, and I miss him deeply.
GM: Did Larry Watts have anything to say about it? PS: Oh, for sure. Larry thinks I’m evil. But I don’t think he’d have it any other way.
GM: Since the first issue of Robyn Hood: Wanted, Robyn experienced a range of emotions over what Cal did to her. Of all the emotions that you’ve written for her, was one more difficult to write than another? PS: It was more difficult having to do the thing and make sense of it in the first place. “Man hurts woman, plot happens” is such a problematic and sketchy place to begin a story, and that was very much already in place when I came in as writer.
What I wanted to do was build Robyn up as a hero, a woman, a person that wasn’t just reacting to what others did to her. I didn’t want it to be another one of those stories, if you know what I mean.
What’s most difficult is on a more meta level… and it’s why I’m so excited for the ongoing. I think I’m more aware of myself and my strengths, weaknesses, and what I care about as a person and a writer than I was when I scripted the first volume of the Robyn Hood trilogy. I’m still proud of it all, and I love what Larry and I have done, but being a writer is this constant battle of, “I really like what I’ve done with this” versus “I wish I would’ve done/not done/noticed/paid more attention to this.”
GM: Will we get to see Nottingham again in the future or is that chapter of Robyn’s life over with? PS: The Nottingham arc of the trilogy is the end of that story. I do have an idea for an annual that I might do down the line that shows Robyn’s influence pervading the realm of Myst to this day… but hell, I’m ready for Robyn to be blazing through New York City with Marian by her side.
The modern, punk rocky, new story I have in mind doesn’t work if Nottingham is still in the picture.
GM: I couldn’t be happier with Robyn’s character development in the final issue of Legend. She went from having this need for revenge and killing those who had hurt her to walking away when the chance to kill an enemy arose. How long did you plan on that being her final stance in the last issue? PS: I always knew what was going to happen in the castle, but it was all very broad.
I spent a lot of time figuring out Robyn, Will, Cal, Gisbourne, and Avella’s motivations—and those are all the main players who are in the castle for that fateful scene. It was a statement about each of those characters that I have been building toward since the first time I introduced each of them, so I’m so flattered that you dig it.
Each of these characters are wildly different than when we first saw them, Robyn and Gisbourne especially… and it’s crazy to think that they were, in the past, pretty similar if you think about it. Gisbourne is swallowed by his thirst for vengeance, allowing him to fall to Avella… when Robyn is very much in the same place as that quote by Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.” Both Robyn and Gisbourne asked themselves that question, and I think their answers define them.
GM: Will Robyn see any consequences for not killing Gisbourne as she promised Avella in an earlier issue? PS: Robyn and Avella’s pact from the Robyn Hood: Age of Darkness issue is still very much in play. It was actually that Avella wanted Gisbourne dead at her own hands, but she wanted Robyn to kill the Dark One, the leader of the Dark Horde.
Something unresolved from the trilogy is that Avella’s tattoos magically bind her to the will of the Dark One, making her vulnerable to his every whim. Robyn, though she rejects her destiny, is prophesied to “lead the Dark Horde into glory,” whatever that means. We really don’t know, it’s just this dark, looming future. But Avella surely still expects Robyn to follow through on that, so that’s something I’ll be revisiting in the ongoing.
GM: What else can we expect to see in the ongoing Robyn Hood series that starts later this year? PS: Robyn and Marian are roommates in New York City, and they’re running a business that investigates “off-kilter emergencies.”
The first arc, a three issue romp by me and Larry, follows Robyn as she helps a gang of roller derby witches who are being preyed on by an evil entity known only as the Priest.
The comic has all of the stuff Robyn fans have come to expect, with a brand new, fresh, poppy twist that I think will help us redefine this series and keep it as special as we think it is.
GM: What is the deal with Marian having Robyn chop off her hair? PS: My favorite part of the new ongoing is that Marian is a woman from a magical realm—a realm where our greatest fantasies are a reality. And when she is exposed to the culture and reality of our mundane world, that to her is magic.
In her world, people don’t look like she looks like now. There isn’t our music, our movies, our way. Marian’s love of humanity and “reality” speaks for how magical our world can really be. In short, Marian is a walking “Humans of New York” photo collection.
GM: How about a Robyn crossover? Will any of the other Zenescope characters from Godstorm, Grimm Fairy-tales, or Oz make an appearance in the upcoming series? (Seeing Robyn in Oz would make for a good comedy I think…) PS: I had this idea called “Robyn Hood in Wonderland” in case our sales ever tank. It’s a great, fun story I have that fits absolutely nowhere in the ongoing that I’m sort of envisioning as our second wind if we ever need it.
As far as the ongoing, I’ll for sure have Britney Waters from Realm Knights (Red Riding Hood) pop in there, as well as the cast of Helsing—at least Helsing herself and Hades. Everything has to feel organic to the series itself, as I never want new readers to feel as if they’re missing something, so I’m going to be super selective with any choices that seem like they’d involve any continuity whatsoever.
GM: If you could pin Robyn up against anyone in the comic book universe, who would it be and who do you think would win? PS: I just want to see Robyn hanging out with Jet from Rachel Rising. Not even fighting, just hanging out, maybe some coffee or a pint.
GM: Any chance of a Robyn Hood animated movie similar to what Zenescope did with Grimm Fairy Tales? I also vote for an action figure! PS: I hope! I’m so not involved in that aspect of things, but it’d be something I’d love to see, and would love even more to do.
GM: Now that you have completed Robyn Hood: Legend, how does it feel to be moving on to her ongoing series? PS: It feels… open. It’s exciting that there is no end in sight, no issue number that we have looming over us that we need to neatly finish the story before hitting.
I’m excited to play with form more, than Larry and I and the team have previously. I’m excited to play Robyn’s sort of cynical, bitter, wearily hopeful way against Marian’s unabashed enthusiasm and love. It feels like a song and man, this is just the opening note.
Robyn Hood: Legend #5 hits store shelves today. The next chapter in Robyn’s life will begin in her first ongoing series, hitting comic book stores on August 20th, 2014!
I hope everyone has picked up a copy of The Shadow Hero for you and your kids’ summer reading. If not, read my review on why you should! Plus, here’s an interview with the writer, Gene Luen Yang:
GeekMom: How was the story and art divided between you and Sonny Liew? What is your creative process?
Gene Luen Yang: I did the writing and Sonny did the art. There was some overlap, of course. Comic books by their very nature demand that the text and the visuals interact, so the writer and the artist have to interact.
I wrote the book as thumbnail sketches—rough sketches of what each page should look like. Sonny reframed the panels that weren’t working. He did all the character designs. He also did extensive visual research on the time period to give the book the proper look and feel.
GM: Who found out about The Green Turtle comic? And how?
GLM: My friend and fellow cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim first pointed it out to me. (If you’re unfamiliar with Derek’s work, I highly recommend it. His latest, Tune, is a wonderful sci-fi rom-com graphic novel series.) Derek had read about the character on Pappy’s Golden Age Blogzine, a blog about obscure Golden Age superheroes.
As soon as I learned the rumors surrounding The Green Turtle’s creation, I became fascinated with him. Was he a Chinese American or wasn’t he? Chu Hing, his creator, never gives his reader a definitive answer. I really wanted that definitive answer, so I teamed up with Sonny Liew to provide one.
GM: I like The Shadow Hero a lot because it has a great blend of action, character, good plot, and humor. The mother is very funny! How did her character come to be?
GLM: Thank you! Hank’s mother was inspired by a few of the ladies at my home church. I grew up in a Chinese American Catholic community. Many of the “aunties” were very much like Hank’s mom. They were well-meaning, but also very… opinionated. Their hearts were always in the right place.
GM: I am currently running an Asian cultural studies camp for teens, and we talked about old stereotypes of Asians in the media (film, tv, comics, etc.). The kids were totally baffled at the caricatures depicted from the turn of the previous century and early decades. What would you like my students to know about Asian stereotypes in today’s media?
GLM: I think that’s great! I’m glad today’s kids are baffled by the caricatures from a century ago. It means things are different now. It means we’re growing in our understanding of culture.
At the same time, stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans still pervade today’s media. An Asian or Asian-American character’s ethnicity can sometimes be used as a lazy way of flattening her, of sidestepping her humanness. Pay attention and you’ll see it. The long-term solution—or at least one of the long-term solutions—is to tell better stories about Asian-Americans.
GM: The Shadow Hero certainly sets things up for more adventures. Are you planning on telling more?
GLM: I have vague notions of doing two more Shadow Hero books: One about the relationship between early Chinatown and early Japantown, another about The Green Turtle in post-World-War-II China. Nothing’s set, though. We’ll see how this first book does.
A big thank you to Gene for taking the time to answer my questions! Here’s to more of The Shadow Hero.