James Kochalka in Wired

Wired has a neato little spotlight on writer/artist James Kochalka (American Elf) about his new videogame Glorkian Warrior, his role in the new animated/live action film Mars and more. Oh, and he also sings (see below). Read the interview here.

Smell Like Stark, Look Like Osborn

Fragrance manufacturer Diesel has put out  a new men’s cologne, with their Only The Brave bottle now covered in red and gold. Fittingly so, as the fragrance is tying into May’s Iron Man 2. Fair enough, as all manner of products are getting in on the marketing ploy. The scent consists of, “top notes of lemon blossom, mandarin and coriander leaves,” and a bunch of other stuff. It’s been noted that an Iron Man fragrance consisting of mandarin is rather ironic, as Mandarin is one of his earliest foes. What’s more interesting, and rather surprising (and frustrating) is that the box’s artwork shows Iron Patriot, NOT Iron Man. What?! Usually Marvel licensing don’t drop the ball on stuff like this, but considering Tony Stark’s armoured alter ego is Marvel’s current golden boy and cinematic cash cow, this opportunity for further brand recognition is quite the missed opportunity.

For those not in the know, Iron Patriot is classic Spider-Man foe Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) who stole one of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits, and had it rebranded with a Captain America colour scheme, when he formed his own Dark Avengers. In fact the interior pages on the box don’t even look like they’re from an Iron Man comic at all. Do the Diesel people not even know what he looks like?

Ghost Recon Future Soldier Teaser

The latest in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series of games is due out this year. Not much is known yet, but the live action teaser certainly shows that Future Soldier is an apt title. Game trailers are fast becoming better than what Hollywood can produce.

See what I mean?

Ron Marz’s New Site

Along with Chuck Dixon, Ron Marz is one of my favourite under-appreciated writers. I’ve interviewed Marz before, for Broken Frontier, and he’s always been a consistent and reliable writer with storytelling know-how that doesn’t need to revert to “adult” tactics to create an entertaining story. Most of his work recently has been with Top Cow, and now he has a new site (it launched last month.) Marz has been writing comic for years so has some good advice and anecdotes. Check out his ideas for an Hourman series for DC from a long time ago here, and discover how it relates to his new Velocity series.

A-Z of Awesomeness

Now here’s the perfect way to teach your kids the alphabet and pop culture at the same time. Courtesy of artist Neill Cameron you can view 26 renditions of awesomeness, such as, “F is for The Fantastic Four saving the Finnish ambassador from Fred Flintstone, who’s flinging flaming fajitas at his Ford Fiesta,” or the much simpler, “U is for Uhura and Ultraman on a unicorn underwater.” Hilarious, absurd and educational. See the whole alphabet here and check out Cameron’s site here.

Nemesis #1 Review

Well, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven have done it yet again. After the duo showed their artistic chemistry with Civil War and Wolverine: Old Man Logan, they whip up another series to complete the Marvel triumvirate. The obvious comparisons would be the down and dirty baddies vs goodies of The Boys with the in your face antics of Kick-Ass (also written by Scot Millar and on Marvel’s creator owned Icon imprint). Fans of either of those series will lap this up. When it was originally announed in a shroud of mystery, Millar cheekily summed up the concept as, “What if someone with Batman’s resources had the moral fibre of the Joker?”

Of course, fanboys lapped that up like hotel bookings at Comic Con. This first issue reveals very little about the titular “world’s only super-criminal.” There’s no origin, or even a name. What we do know is that, “he targets a policeman, moves into town, selects a team from the local hoods,” and causes manic destruction with the precision and planning of a Die Hard villain. The latest target of the white clad man with too much evil and time in his hands is Blake Morrow, a middle aged Chief of Police who doesn’t tolerate profanity (which means he wouldn’t read this book) or crime in his beloved city of Washington. In fact he’s decreased it by a whopping 60%.

As this debut issue opens Nemesis is holding a bloodied Tokyo cop hostage and disregards his life in a manner that defines overkill. Let’s just say there’s an exploding hotel and a falling train involved. Nemesis then decides his next challenge is to be found in America, as he considers Morrow, “a worthy opponent.”

The rest of the issue is a wise set up. Nemesis and Morrow won’t actually meet until next issue I assume. Here the pale force of destruction lands on the wing of the President’s plane, Air Force One with a gun almost as big as him, just to prove the point that no-one’s beyond his cruel reach. With such wild antics, surely Nemesis isn’t Batman by way of Joker after all. Does he actually possess superpowers? I mean the term “superhero” and “supervillain” get applied to non-powered characters too. Hopefully that will be clarified next issue. It may not seem like a big deal, but if Nemesis does possess powers, he’d be the only one who does in this world. That would be an interesting approach; if Nemesis is just wreaking havoc on the world because he can and doesn’t have an also-powered superhero to do battle with. He treats humanity as a cat would treat an injured mouse, as a killer whale would approach a seal before devouring it.

Morrow is set up as an interesting foil, but the core of his being seems summed up in a few mere sentences – Catholic, popular, family man. Got it. However this intro comes after he blows apart 5 armed robbers (none of whom have hostages) in a grocery store. It takes 5 armed men to rob a food outlet? Did they think they were walking into Fort Knox? That rash action seems at odds with Morrow’s fatherly demeanour, but then again, maybe those strong arm tactics won him that 60% crime decrease. Again, if Morrow disposes with all bad guys with the same cold manner that Nemesis uses against everybody, that conflict could be interesting, but it’s something that has yet to reveal itself.

Nemesis doesn’t scream of originality. We’ve seen all this before in any Punisher series in the last 10 years, but Millar does have a track record that requires our trust in what he’s setting up here. Like Kick-Ass there is the feeling that something special is being created and we’re in on the ground floor, before Hollywood brings it to everyone’s attention, which may just happen if Millar’s wonderfully honest afterword is anything to go by.

Steve McNiven’s art isn’t as detailed as his Civil War and Wolverine: Old Man Logan work. He’s doing his own inking here so there’s less spectacle and more simplicity. The mass destruction just doesn’t have the same visual impact it should. Nemesis’ costume is perhaps comics’ most simple yet, with just a white body suit and mask. No room for holsters, even? Perhaps he really is super if he doesn’t need a utility belt, or even room for spare ammo. However, the contrast of blood on the plain white suit, plus the use of white instead of black to represent evil, I guess was enough of an impetus to create it.

Nemesis obviously knows Morrow (even if the reverse isn’t true) and via the we’ve-seen-it-before approach of terrorising the city through a TV broadcast calls his latest attack, “revenge for a stolen childhood,” and refers to himself as, “the black sheep of the Anderson family.” Those narrative hints and the promise of more Millar/McNiven magic is more than enough for now to keep me around on this new series.

Joe Harris Interview

I have an interview at Broken Frontier with writer Joe Harris about his career as a screenwriter of horror films, his stint at Marvel a few years ago and his new series, Ghost Projekt from Oni Press. Ghost Projekt debuted recently and is a great thrilling series. Steve Rolston’s art is equally creepy, and Dean Trippe’s colours just give a suitably eerie feel to the pages. Go and grab it now.