Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review - Injustice: Gods Among Us Graphic Novel

Now, I haven't kept up with DC Comics ever since they launched the New 52. I read many of the initial comics that they released and was so unimpressed, I pretty much stopped reading anything DC put out. So, when my wife got me the Injustice: Gods Among Us graphic novel, I was a little hesitant to read it. I knew it based on the video game (and many comics based on games usually are little more than rehashing the plot of a game in hopes to promote it), which gave me even less of a reason to give it a shot.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the comic actually was. Now, I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who hasn't read this yet. So, I am only going to speak of what happens in the very early part of the comic. If you don't even want to know that much, I suggest stop reading now.

The essential plot of the story is, what would happen if Superman went bad. We are so used to seeing Superman as the unfailing, unfaltering, always do the right thing, hero. He shows up. He saves the day. He puts the bad guy behind bars. This story starts off that way, but only for the briefest of moments.

As our story begins, we see Clark and Lois in bed (yes, in this reality he is still married to Lois Lane, which DC erased in the New 52). Clark suddenly perks up as he begins to hear a second heartbeat coming from Lois' body. He is overjoyed as Lois runs off to get an exclusive story down by the docks. Clark flies off as well and even asks Batman to be the godfather. This, is where the happiness ends. Lois is kidnapped by none other than the Joker and Harley and they hide her from Superman, and when he can't find his wife, he goes in search of her, with the rest of the Justice League's help.  They finally locate the Joker with Lois in a submarine which Superman lifts from the water and places on the dock. They break in and find Joker performing some kind of surgery on Lois' body. Supes gets shot in the face with some Scarecrow gas laced with Kryptonite and he believes he sees Doomsday (shown above). He grabs Doomsday and flies him into space, while Batman and the others capture Joker and Harley.

Now, here's the twist and again, if you don't like spoilers, I suggest you stop reading. Doomsday turns out to be Lois, and when Superman flies her into space, he kills her. The Joker had implanted a trigger in her chest, attached to her heart so that when it stopped beating, a bomb would explode, destroying Metropolis. This is the part where you'd expect someone to come up with something clever to save the day. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. Lois dies, as does the population of Metropolis.

Grief stricken, our boy-scout hero undergoes a change. He asks why psychotics like the Joker are allowed again and again to cause terror and death in those around him. Superman isn't content to let this go. He seeks out the Joker in his cell in Gotham and punches a hole in his chest, beginning the downfall of our once great hero.

I'll stop the description there, but essentially the story pits hero against hero in a Marvel: Civil War style war in which the question is simple - Should those with power be able to rule with an iron fist if it's in the best interests of the people?

The series is ongoing and I have since getting the volume 1 graphic novel, gone on to read the other 30 or so issues they have released digitally. The story is compelling, and at times I find myself rooting for one side or the other. I want Superman to win, and sometimes I want him not to win. Not to ruin anything, but many of your favorite heroes do show up at some point in this story, and not all of them survive.

This is a great alternate reality comic set on an Earth we haven't yet met in the 52 worlds set up by the multiverse (if there is even a multiverse in the New 52. Like I said, I still don't read it). It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and I really hope that DC continues this series until it's end - not just when they don't need to promote the video game anymore.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 is written by Tom Taylor, and has several artists working on it. Even with various artists, the artwork in this volume is consistent and detailed. Taylor tells an awesome story, and manages to use many characters without the story getting too bogged down. This is a wonderful read for anyone looking for a fresh perspective on classic characters (or anyone tired of the doldrums of the New 52).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: Special Edition NYC - June 2014

I had the great opportunity to be one of the artists at the inaugural edition of Special Edition NYC, a mini-comic con at the Javitz Center in New York City.

For anyone who has been to New York Comic Con in the last couple years, you know that for the uninitiated, the experience can be a little scary. NYCC 2013 boasted well over 160,000 people, over the course of four days, and let me tell you, having experienced that, it is a little frightening.

Well, Special Edition NYC was anything but. With less than a quarter of the crowd of NYCC, it is a great place to start your con experience. This seemed to be the case for many of the people I spoke to last weekend. Many told me that this was their first comic convention ever.

Because Special Edition was in the space usually reserved for NYCC's Artist Alley, this con was a lot more low-key than many of the other cons I have been to over the years. With no celebrity guests, and no major publishers putting on spectacles for the crowds, this show was mainly about one thing: THE ARTISTS and CREATORS.

For a writer/artist, such as me, this is a good thing. It places more focus on the artist alley and allows more fans to see our work. I hope that in future years ReedPop keeps this aspect of Special Edition the same. Because while it is great to go to the big conventions with all the celebrities and such, it is nice to be a part of decent sized con that is about the comics and the people who create them, which so many of the cons have fallen away from in recent years.

This con was only two days, as opposed to the big on in October which runs for four. I would venture to say that this particular con could have actually been shortened to just one day. While the crowd was great on Saturday, the Sunday crowd left much to be desired. I'm used to having a lighter crowd on Sunday, but as we noticed, there were more people walking by with exhibitors badges on Sunday then there were people wearing Sunday badges. I don't know for sure, but I don't think ReedPop sold all that many badges for Sunday. Now, this could have been hurt by the fact that it was Father's Day, and if they switch the weekend next year, that might fix itself, I don't know. The only thing I can comment on was that the Sunday crowd was unusually light, and that was disappointing.

The other disappointing thing, that also effected the crowd I'm sure, was that Special Edition was scheduled at the same time as the Long Island Comic Con and the Westchester Comic Con. We are talking about three comic conventions literally within 50 miles of each other. Poor planning on this schedule I think hurt all three of these cons, because each con lost fans to the others. This would be another thing I would suggest ReedPop avoid in the future.

If you are into cosplay, you wouldn't have been disappointed with this con either. Like the crowd though, the cosplayers were very light. The pictures I've included here are a couple of the dozen or so pictures I took of cosplayers. Usually, I come out of a convention with 100 pictures. Not to say that this was a bad thing, because for the most part, the people who were dressed up wore high quality costumes, like the couple you see here.

Overall, I believe that Special Edition NYC was a great success! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I like doing the smaller cons as much as I enjoy doing the huge ones, and for the first year, I would say that this one has the potential to be one of the better small cons. Look for postings for next year's con, and if you have the opportunity, come on up to NYC for it in June (if it is in June again next year). Either way, come on down for the massive party that is New York Comic Con in October. I'll be there!