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Trade Review: Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Writers: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Publisher: Boom! Box
Price $14.99

As someone who primarily picks up their indy books in trade, the waiting process can be an interesting process. While you’re waiting for that first volume, lots of talk goes back and forth in the comic shop and on message boards about certain books that make you consider checking out certain books when the time finally comes. Certainly, there have been many highly praised books from the past that have left me disappointed, but enough good talk was going around for Lumberjanes that I decided to give it a try. And I’m sure glad that I did, because even though I’m about the furthest thing from the target demographic here, this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve read in a while.

Coming from co-creators Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters, Lumberjanes is centered around the eponymous group of 5 who stumble upon a number of misadventures while attending summer camp; that is to say that this is a book about girl scouts exploring a supernatural wilderness. If that sounds like a quirky premise, that’s because it is, and the writing reflects a light-hearted sense of fun that pervades the experience. Each of our leads has a distinct voice and personality, and the dialogue provided by the writing team is filled with charm. On artistic duties, Brooke Allen matches the atmosphere of the book nicely with high-energy line work that exudes a quirkiness all its own.

So the book is quite charming, as I expected going in. But beyond this, though, the story does a very effective job establishing a good long-form story. The mysteries of the camp are introduced subtly and effectively, with a lot of moving pieces being put into place in a way that makes me anxious to come back for more.

And I must say that it’s a good thing the book is of high quality, because it’s something that the industry needs more of: a book with compelling female protagonists. Our heroes don’t sit around daydreaming about boys or anything like that, but rather lead lives of action, and indeed kick a lot of ass.

Lumberjanes is one of those rare books that adults can enjoy and then pass along to their kids to read. It provides both boys and girls with good role models and provides good life lessons (the words to the Lumberjanes pledge in particular are good words to live by). Maybe it’s not very complex and doesn’t have a lot you can sink your teeth into, but that won’t keep you from enjoying yourself. This is a book that can be enjoyed across a wide range of demographics, and it’s one that really should be. Whether for yourself or for your kids, be sure to give it a look.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

Top o’ the Lot: Vehicles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is easily one of the best action movie series of all time. It has everything: Amazing characters, awesome fights, and really, REALLY, cool technology. Among this technology are ray-guns, super suits, even flying hammers, but nothing in the MCU is quite as cool as the plethora of vehicles. Cars, boats, spaceships and more, the list of amazing automobilia goes on and on, but I whittled it down to just the very best of the best. So, without further ado, it flies, you’re not supposed Marvel Studios Logoto do that with bikes, and who was driving that thing? in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Vehicles from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Continue reading Top o’ the Lot: Vehicles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Review: Ninjak #3

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Clay Mann
Inks: Seth Mann
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Covers: Lewis LaRosa, Dave Johnson, Rafa Sandoval, Antonio Fuso, Brian Reber

Valiant Entertainment

Book 3

A fast paced, thrilling 30 minute action sequence contained in a single issue. Whooo! What a ride that was! A thrill ride literally from beginning to end. Action in comics as it was meant to be told!

Continue reading Review: Ninjak #3

Review: Ant-Man #5

Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Cover: Mark Brooks

The sorta conclusion to the first art of Nick Spencer’s Ant-Man is here. Let me adjust by spouting that Ant-Man has been my favorite superhero since I was 4 living in Miami. So the fact that Ant-Man is in my hometown getting into all sorts of hijinks has been wonderful. Spencer/Rosanas the Ant-Man title I have been wanting for years. Scott Lang one of many to shrink into the Ant-Man mantle is face to face with the foe he first took on as Ant-Man, Darren Cross. Once again Darren Cross has put Scott’s daughter Cassie in harm’s way and Scott is the only one there to stop Cross. Continue reading Review: Ant-Man #5

Review: Secret Wars #1

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Cover: Alex Ross

Everything Ends. The haunting phrase Jonathan Hickman has been trying to get me to wrap my head around since his Avengers run started in 2012. The Multiverse is collapsing. The Beyonders have found existence to be a waste of an experiment. There are only two universes remaining: Earth 616 and Earth 1610. The Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. This is it. The Legendary Heroes of the 616 going toe to toe with the honest husks left of the Ultimate Universe. Prepare for what’s to come. Prepare for the Real Secret Wars. Continue reading Review: Secret Wars #1

Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Man, the time can really fly by on you sometimes, can’t it? It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 3 years since the biggest super hero movie of all time, The Avengers. A groundbreaking feat, the big-screen adaptation of Marvel’s premier super team combined together multiple multi-million dollar franchises to bring several beloved comic book icons to life on the big screen. And it was actually good. Such an accomplishment is one that would have seemed impossible to most fans a decade ago, and the fact that they pulled it off led to some highly deserved accolades. But the world moves on, Marvel Studios moved on with it to Phase Two. The inevitable sequel to The Avengers would have to try to be bigger and bolder than even the mighty original, which brings us to the present and the newly released Avengers: Age of Ultron. And while there are some challenges that cause the film to stumble in some areas, the overall package is indeed one hell of an impressive movie.

The action, as you probably know, centers around the MCU’s biggest heroes squaring off against Ultron, an AI experiment gone horribly wrong. Along the way, they pick up new enemies and allies, and we gain more tidbits about the grand scheme of things with the Infinity Gems Stones being moved around. With this as our backdrop, we are taken a wild ride from start to finish. Make no mistake; Age of Ultron is unabashedly a popcorn movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but know going in that you won’t find a lot of deep-thinking moments, even relative to other MCU movies like Winter Soldier. With the return of both the actors and director Joss Whedon, it should come as no surprise that AoU brings a similar tone and atmosphere as the original, combining large action set pieces with dialogue-heavy character interaction. Thankfully, Whedon is a master of both, with fight scenes that drip with fan-pleasing glee and snappy dialogue that has become the director’s trademark, made all the better by a talented cast that has become very comfortable with their respective roles.

As we have come to expect, all of our returning actors give great performances. Robert Downey Jr gives us Tony Stark’s affable arrogance, Chris Evans strongly portrays Cap as righteous but melancholy, and Mark Ruffalo brings both Banner’s charm and the Hulk’s rage to life masterfully. And after having to sit out most of the original, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye steps up to deliver some of my favorite moments from the whole movie. This being a sequel, though, there is also an array of new characters on display. Among these, James Spader’s Ultron in particular is outstanding. Equal parts disarmingly fascinating and morbidly insane, Ultron is just as mesmerizing as he is menacing. Another villain worth mentioning is Andy Serkis’s Klaw, who was memorable in his brief appearance, and who has me looking forward to seeing more.

On the heroic side of things, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are both on the scene, portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively. Other than some…distracting Eastern European accents, the pair do a good job bringing the characters to life, giving the twins emotional chips on their shoulders that play well into their role in the story. For me, though, the best new addition to the good guys’ bench is Paul Bettany as the Vision. After providing the voice for our favorite virtual butler for so long, it’s impressive to see Bettany transition so  well to having more physical presence. The character has a compelling mystique to him, a product of both writing and performance. His reveal in Age of Ultron is in many ways similar to the Hulk’s from the original: lots of build-up for a showstopper at the end.

So the acting is strong across the board, but how do things stack up in the story department? For the most part, pretty well. The characters all have clear motives and events flow naturally from cause to effect. The story switches back and forth from over-the-top action and fight scenes (Hulk vs Hulkbuster is everything you dreamed it would be) to small character moments to flesh out our heroes. Yet while these moments are well executed, they also illustrate the film’s biggest pitfall: it is extremely crowded. What moments there are were put together well, but there are several characters (the Maximoffs and Thor chief among them) that don’t get fleshed out quite as much as you would want. I suppose that this problem is one we should have expected; we all knew the cast was comprised of a small army. Considering that, Whedon and company did as well as people could have reasonably hoped, but the dense cast is still a noticeable problem.

Other than this, all of my other complaints are of the nit-picky variety. The CG in some scenes is surprisingly hokey looking, it is somewhat unclear to me just what exactly the movie’s version of the Vision is capable of, and there are some scenes where our more powerful members are conspicuously absent (Thor going on his spirit walk, for instance), presumably to keep the villain from being defeated before the finale.  And while I didn’t mind so much, some comic fans might take issue with some fairly drastic changes for some of the characters. Really, though, issues like this amount to pinpricks in the side of a battleship: hardly something that is going to sink the project.

Age of Ultron brings together an amazing cast to tell a gigantic story, and is full to bursting with engaging characters, astounding action, and sheer fun. Ultimately, it didn’t knock my socks off like seeing the team together for the first time did in 2012, but I had been waiting for that my whole life without knowing it. And after seeing how awesome Marvel’s tentpole Avengers franchise continues to be, I’m sure it will feel like another lifetime while we wait for Infinity War. 

VERDICT: Go see it as soon as you can

Gwen Takes Over Marvel Variant Covers

GWEN Is Taking Over!

She’s smart, charming and she can lift a car! She’s Gwen Stacy, the Spectacular Spider-Woman and she comes to you each month in the pages of the critically acclaimed Spider-Gwen series! But what if Gwen Stacy had lifted Mjolnir to become Thor: Gwen of Thunder? What if she had been awarded the Eye of Agamotto, and battled the forces of the supernatural as Dr. Gwenge? Find out as she powers up for June’s can’t miss GWEN VARIANTS – as the industry’s top artist show you a side of Gwen Stacy you’ve never seen before! Continue reading Gwen Takes Over Marvel Variant Covers

Preview: Dynamite Entertainment releases for 04/08/15

Here’s a quick look at these upcoming Dynamite Entertainment releases for  April 8, 2015!

Continue reading Preview: Dynamite Entertainment releases for 04/08/15