Impaler #2 Review

impaler002_mediumTop Cow has done it again. Picking their projects wisely they appear determined to create books that are distinctive in a spandex-driven market. Impaler is their latest high concept book, to use Hollywood slang. The set up is this: blizzard in New York, adrift freighter discovered with dead crew, vampires descend upon the city, cop teams up with ageless vamp killer Vlad Tempes, military struggles to keep up. Thankfully the Cow throw a handy guide in their titles these days, so this is a good place to jump in as any, in case you missed the first issue. This ish begins with two archaeologists arguing over the find of a corpse in a Moroccan dig site, while the object of their discussion seems to stir.

Three weeks later we discover how really desperate the U.S military are. With the vamps gaining ground with alarming speed soldiers are ordered to take them down at any means, even at the cost of civilian lives.

This is a movie waiting to be made. Less of a vampire film than a disaster one, if made, it could easily sit next to Cloverfield or I Am Legend or 28 Days Later. There is a feeling of desperation running throughout the issue, but it isn’t swamped by it. This disaster very much has a human face amongst the devilish horde. Vlad perhaps unwisely, gives his new partner, Detective Victor Dailey, a second chance at life, after receiving radiation poisoning, and Lieutenant George Wagner has a conflict of interest when faced with the insurmountable odds. Finishing off with a scene that ties in to the awakening corpse of the intro, things look unsurprisingly bleaker for our band of heroes in the future issues.

Writer William Harms and artist Matt Timson are on a winner here. It’s obvious they understand one another and are building something eerily incredible. Harms knows when to let Timson unleash his blood soaked art upon us, and when to quiet things down (slightly) although every page is brimming with sweaty intensity, as well as very impressive art.

The vampire creatures are a great work of design. Not resembling the typical neck biters from pop culture, Timson gives the ghouls more of a zombie feel, with a touch of Venom thrown in for good measure. Their blank eyes, shadow like tendrils and scorched skin make for a creepy visual combo. Timson is skilled in every area of art that the comic book page requires. The subtle earthen colours of the opener to the surveillance footage shown to the military to Dailey’s hallucinations that are suitably ethereal. He shows he has the mad skills needed for this mad tale. With Stjepan Sejic and now Matt Timson, Top Cow should give their talent scouts a hearty pat on the back.

Be aware that Impaler wisely carries a Mature Audience stamp for graphic content and profanity and blood are both plentiful. It is a gritty, harsh adventure and one that has me hooked.

For a preview of this ish, go here.

Joe Graham’s Omni

Recently I met a man by the name of Joe Graham through the modern wonder that is MySpace. Joe’s a 41 year old computer scientist married to a beautiful woman name Jana.  They have six children together and live in Grand Blanc, Michigan.  Joe reads comic books, watches TV, spends as much time as possible with his kids, and enjoys his wife’s cooking. A former military man as well as martial arts enthusiast, Joe wanted to meld these passions with his creative pursuits in describing combat scenes and large scale battle sequences. With his first, self-published novel, Omni – History Begins it looks like he’s achieved just that.

I always admire anyone that can follow their creative hopes while still living a so-called normal life. It takes determination and faith. Joe’s updates at the official Omni site are pretty helpful and encouraging for those wanting to see their name on the front cover of a book, and was kind enough to chat with me about the process of putting it all together.

OmniOkay the first obligatory question – what’s Omni all about?

Here is the synopsis that I used as a press release.  But, before all that the answer was a simple concept.  Time and time again superheroes are the epitome of self-sacrifice, heroism, truthfulness, and all the other characteristics that comic fans have come to love.  How did they get that way? In my superhero universe I wanted to show not the end result, but the process of becoming a superhero.  These are not the first superheroes to be training in this manner and the coaches that train them have done this before.  It’s how it’s done in my world, you find that out when you read it.  It’s more Jedi temple than your parents get killed and you just figure everything out.

620 pages is pretty impressive for a first novel, but do you see this as the first of many adventures in the Omni Universe?

620 large pages with trade paperback size text.  The book is 360,000 words. The largest Potter book was about 275,000 words.  It’s a monster book, but it was meant to setup the series and the war to follow.  I’ve had many people tell me to break it into smaller books, but this isn’t how the story should read.  It’s a complete epic the way it is.  Yes, this is the first of many.

Omni Back CoverCan you give us a breakdown of the main heroes and what they bring to the team?

In the book you meet hundreds of heroes and villains – ask me how many original superhero names I had to come up with!  The team with the main focus has six members and these are their names.

Darkspeed, leader – super speed, tough, smart, darkness powers; he’s a good problem solver and tactician.

Olympian, hitter – great invulnerability and strength, flight, speed; fighting is just another sport to him.

Shi, stealth – repel and attract fields, strength, agility, fighting skills, and invisibility; she was raised by heroes and has the advantage in skills.

Virtuoso, brain – mind reading, telepathy, illusions, and teleportation; raised by artists she takes a non tactical approach to problems.

Bioforce, healer – bio-manipulate herself and others, bio scan others, heal, very smart; her powers have her both fighting and taking care of the wounded.

Midas, anchor – matter transmutation; as the youngest and weakest, he seems underpowered for the team.  As the book goes on his true powers become evident.

logoWhat was the motivation for setting up Rejection Press?

This is an easy one.  I wanted to get my book out to as many people as possible and I’m impatient.  I spoke to someone on line about the publishing process.  They said and I quote, “Expect to send out 200 query letters over a two year period just to have someone read your work.”  I thought about being rejected 200 times and just thought to myself, “I am not into that kind of rejection.”  So, I founded Rejection Press and the book is available on Amazon US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany.  I’ve also got it on the Barnes and Nobles web site and I’m working on getting it on their shelves.  It’s much more work for me, but I didn’t have anyone reject me.

What were the milestones you faced along the way?

Self editing sucks, I couldn’t do it.  I had to line up 20 test readers and ask question after question.  In music terms, it would be more like a live album than a studio washed version.  In some ways it seems more real editing this way.  I know I feel much more confident with the plot after talking it out with so many people.

Joe and OmniWas there any step in the whole process that you weren’t quite ready for?

The patience needed as the project grew.  At first you think, “I’ll be done with this in a few months.”  Then 14 months later you have something you are very proud of, but you really wanted it done awhile back.

How did you stay focused during the time it took to complete the novel?

I would have been lost without two things.  One, I made a detailed 75 page outline at the start.  That way I knew what I was going to write about when I sat down.  Two, my kids enjoyed the book and kept asking for new pages to read as soon as they were done.

What’s your ultimate goal for Omni?

My ultimate goal is for there to be a full blown series of books for Omni.  I can’t think of anything that would be more rewarding than for this first work to help spawn that.

Omni Site

You can check out Omni – History Begins at the official site, or at Rejection Press and you can order it from Amazon.

Wonder Woman on DVD

Two days before Watchmen hits the cinema, DC’s best loved heroine hits the small screen. Wonder Woman, the new animated film from Warner Bros. and DC Comics, after their excellent Superman/Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier animated films, arrives into man’s world on March 3. Keri Russel (MI: 3) stars as WW herself, with Nathan Fillion (Serenity) as pilot Steve Trevor and Virginia Madsen (Firewall) as Hippolyta, WW’s mother. It looks like a faithful set up for the Amazon princess and has some great features, such as a sneak peek at DC’s next animated film, Green Lantern: First Flight. Below is the official trailer and a clip of two Amazonians in some gladiator action.

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It had a spectacular reaction at WonderCon this week and looks like making new fans when it hits DVD and Blu-Ray on March 3.

X-Force/Cable: Messiah War Prologue Preview

messiahwar_prologue_cover_andrewsX-Force and Cable are the two bad boys of the X-Men flood of books as of late. Now they’re teaming up as part of the Messiah War cross-over, which is the sequel to Messiah CompleX. The first new mutant birth since the house of M (whereby the mad Scarlet Witch’s “No more mutants” dream became a reality) things have been crazy. Cable’s stuck in the future, Bishop’s tracking him down and Cyclops is attempting to protect the future of the mutant race from those that want her for their own ends. So the X-Men’s leader orders something drastic and sends X-Force on a time-travelling adventure after Cable and the youngen.

The prologue is written by Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle with art by Mike Choi and goes on sale on March 25. Then it’s onto Part 2 in Cable #13 on sale on April 1, followed by Part 3 in  April 22’s X-Force #14 by Yost, Kyle and artist Clayton Crain. Below are a few text-free preview pages of the Prologue. They look gorgeous.

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Street Fighting Aliens

After my review of IDW’s Groom Lake #1 I interviewed the creators of the amusing UFO-centric series, Chris Ryall and Ben Templesmith over at Broken Frontier. I also just reviewed Street Fighter IV #1 from Udon at Extra Sequential. It’s about what I expected. Not a lot of depth, story-wise, but it looks great (as you can see below). Fans of the just released game should definitely pick it up.

Street Fighter IV #1

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Sing While You’re Swinging

This has been in the works for a while now, due in no small part to the mega-success of the films of Marvel’s most famous character. Fanboys are already up in arms about what they see as a travesty, but I think it’s a good idea. What is that idea? Spider-Man on Broadway. It’s happening. Tickets go on sale in June. It sounds like a more faithful adaptation than the dodgy Superman musical from three decades ago, and it has some stellar talent involved, namely half of U2! If I was a U.S resident, my curiosity would drive me to see it for myself. It’s a bold move and will hopefully bring in new fans to the comic book medium, or at least get fanboys out of the house – as long as they don’t picket the theatre. I can hear it now – “Spidey’s a swinger, not a singer!” Press release below.

Webheads, get ready to experience the exploits of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in an entirely new, exciting way when “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” opens on Broadway!

Mark your calendars now, thwippers, “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” opens on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre, 213 West 42nd Street. And some lucky Broadway goers will get to see the show when preview performances begin Saturday, January 16, 2010.

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Stay tuned to Marvel.com to find out about your chance to purchase tickets to “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” before they go on sale to the general public!

Of course a show starring Spider-Man deserves all-star talent and “Turn Off the Dark” has it in spades! Tony® Award-winner Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Across The Universe”) is not only directing the musical, but she shares writing credits with Glen Berger. Oh, but there’s more! Bono and The Edge, 22-time Grammy® Award-winning members of the legendary band U2 are creating new music and lyrics for the show!

The principal creative and design team for “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” includes Daniel Ezralow, Choreographer (“Across the Universe,” “The Green Bird”); George Tsypin, Sets (“The Magic Flute,” “The Little Mermaid”); Eiko Ishioka, Costumes (Academy Award® for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” Tony Award® nomination for “M. Butterfly,” the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics); Donald Holder, Lighting (Tony® Awards for “The Lion King,” “South Pacific”); Jonathan Deans, Sound (“Fosse,” The Beatles “LOVE” by Cirque du Soleil, “Young Frankenstein,” “Ragtime”); and Teese Gohl, Musical Supervisor (“Across the Universe,” “Frida”). Additional members of the “Spider-Man” creative team will be announced at a later date.

Drawing from over 40 years of Marvel comic books for inspiration, “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” spins a new take on the mythic tale of a young man propelled from a modest rowhouse in Queens to the sky-scraping spire of the Chrysler Building, the bustling offices of the Daily Bugle, through the dizzying canyons of Manhattan, to new vistas never before seen.

The musical follows the story of teenager Peter Parker, whose unremarkable life is turned upside-down-literally-when he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider and wakes up the next morning clinging to his bedroom ceiling. This bullied science-geek-suddenly endowed with astonishing powers-soon learns, however, that with great power comes great responsibility as villains test not only his physical strength but also his strength of character.

Spider-Man’s battles will hurtle the audience through an origin story both recognizable and unexpected-yielding new characters as well as familiar faces-until a final surprising confrontation casts a startling new light on this hero’s journey.

Casting for “Spider-Man” will be announced soon.

Group tickets now on sale. Single tickets will go on sale June, 2009. For more information about group tickets, visit the “Spider-Man” website atwww.SpidermanOnBroadway.com or by calling 1-800-Broadway.

Liefeld, Obama & Youngblood Team-Up

securedownload-1Now I know writer/artist Rob Liefeld can be a controversial figure, but I’ve never really figured out why. I mean, his legacy can’t be ignored. He co-created Deadpool and Cable and helped build (along with his fellow Image founders) an exciting way of looking at comics as a mass media form of entertainment, and the building blocks of a larger media empire. Of course, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is the leading light in that regard, but Liefeld’s output, though irregular, always garners attention. Now he returns to his signature creation, with the most popular man in comics today – the new U.S President himself. Official press release below.

 

THE NEW ERA OF YOUNGBLOOD BEGINS TOMORROW COURTESY OF SERIES CREATOR ROB LIEFELD AND PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA!
The future of Youngblood starts now as Rob Liefeld returns!

The bold new era of YOUNGBLOOD begins tomorrow as series creator Rob Liefeld takes the reins and reveals President Barack Obama’s shocking lineup of the long-running superhero team!

“Since YOUNGBLOOD’s very first issue back in 1992, the series has always had a real world, political connection by taking on such issues as the first Iraq war and really exploring just what it would mean to be a government sanctioned superteam,” Liefeld said. “Bringing Obama into the picture is a necessary extension of YOUNGBLOOD’s history and I couldn’t imagine a better way to start my full-time return to the series.”

YOUNGBLOOD began the Image revolution in early 1992 and was the first creator-owned comic book to sell over a million copies right out of the gate by bringing a whole new perspective to what superhero comics were capable of. Rob’s creations took the medium by storm by influencing an entire generation of creators and, most recently, Brett Ratner as the famed director behind such blockbuster films as Rush Hour and X3 announced he will be taking the property to new heights by kick-starting the YOUNGBLOOD film franchise. Tomorrow’s issue not only features a six-page back up story setting up Rob Liefeld’s full-time return to the series with May’s YOUNGBLOOD #9, but also an already much coveted variant cover featuring our nation’s 44th President.

YOUNGBLOOD #8, a 32-page full color comic book for $2.99, will be in-stores tomorrow.