My Insta

Hey there! Since I don’t update my blog anymore, you may like to find me on Instagram! I’m kris.bather and also fictionalsquid where I post my thoughts on general pop culture goodness including comics, films, novels and action figures.

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Hillsong Films

Successful Christian band Hillsong United has a new live project being released next week, and it looks, and of course sounds, amazing. of Dirt and Grace was recorded in Israel, and below you can see the trailer for the live DVD, as well as a great rejig of Prince of Peace, one of my fave songs off their last album Empires.

Besides that project, Let Hope Rise, is an exciting new documentary that opens in September, which follows Hillsong and the impact and origins of their church and music ministry.

Overrun

Writer Andi Ewington (the excellent 45 OGN from publisher Com.x a few years ago) has been busy lately, creating new series such as Six, and Sunflower. He’s also added the high concept series Overrun, to his impressive resume (along with writer Matt Woodley),all 4 issues of which are available now on various digital platforms such as iBooks and Kindle.

It’s a gorgeous looking book with a wonderful premise, described below.

The city is at a breaking point. Living space is running out. Those in power are forced to execute a desperate measure – introduce a poison to wipe out a huge part of the population.

This is no ordinary city, however. Overrun takes the reader into the heart of their own computer. Citizens are files. There are .xls business people, sexy spams and hip musician .mp4s. The space which is running out is memory – the poison a computer virus.

Political intrigue and epic action scenes take place inside this lovingly crafted world as we follow a group of friends, forgotten computer game heroes, as they fight their way through the virus infection which is transforming their fellow citizens into memory sucking zombies.

Popular web site Bleeding Cool describes it as, “Tron meets Dawn of the Dead,” which is as tantalising as it sounds. Beyond those striking covers, the interior art is supplied by Paul Green, known for his work on Flash Gordon from Ardden Entertainment. Green, with great effects and lettering by Troy Peteri and Joshua Cozine, makes the pages pop, as you can see from a few random pages below.

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For more info, check out the Overrun site.

 

 

The Martian and The Christian

The Martian, based on the Andy Weir novel of the same name, is a different sci-fi film from director Ridley Scott. There’s no obvious enemy with the face of an alien or cyborg, but it’s still a terrifically tense tale.

Sometime in the future, the Alpha III manned mission to Mars goes awry, leaving presumed dead astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) stranded and alone.

the-martian

Upon finding out of their colleague’s survival, the crew must decide whether to carry on their planned, long return journey to Earth, or risk their own lives by turning around to rescue him. This kind of sacrifice made me think of Jesus’ words in John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Of course, that’s what Jesus has done for us. We are precious in His sight, and to bring us back to the Father, He did what He had to do to make that happen – He surrendered his life. He didn’t argue, or fight, or run. Earlier, in John 10:18 Jesus told his disciples (who were also his close friends) that no-one takes his life from him, but he lays it down willingly. For me, for you, for us all – he gave up his life. He knew what the price was (his death) but also what the prize was (our redemption).

That really is the gospel message. God created the world, and made humans, not because He’s lonely, but because He’s loving. When those humans disobeyed God, that relationship with Him was severed but His love for us never changed. God’s not an emotional being as we are, in that He isn’t erratic or changes His mind. That’s why He’s able to love us with patience and persistence. He has never given up on humanity, His dearest and most precious creation, and He knew the only way to restore our relationship with Him was to have His Son Jesus suffer the punishment we deserved, on our behalf.

That heart for humanity has never left God. He longs to have a relationship with us all; to reveal His truth and love and power to, and through, us.

Besides the sacrifice of his friends, and the intelligence of NASA, the other aspect that led to Mark’s survival on Mars was his determination. Through determination, Watney had to learn to make food, water and shelter and to do all he could to return home. When we are desperate for something, we are willing to let go of things that hinder us from that goal. Our money and time are precious commodities, so we must learn to use them wisely.

Paul said in Philippians 3:12 that, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” He goes on to say that he forgets what lies behind and uses descriptions such as “straining toward what is ahead,” and challenges, “all of us who are mature” to take such a view.

Paul uses the runner analogy in 1 Corinthians 9 when he encourages believers to go in to strict training because the eternal prize is worth it. We are not called to run aimlessly, but to run with our eyes fixed heavenward. That is our motivation, moreso than any earthly rewards such as riches or acclaim which are only temporary.

We compete, not against others, but against those things that would hinder us from running the race He has called us to run. Following Christ is not a short sprint but a long marathon. It requires endurance, discipline and focus. It requires saying yes to things that draw us closer to our godly goal, and to say no to those things which distract us.

In the film, Watney ponders the fact that he is the loneliest man in the universe. No-one has ever been more distant from other life than he is. Of course, no matter where we go, we are never alone. It is one of the most joyful promises we have as children of God. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to not be afraid because He will never leave us or forsake us. Some of Jesus’ last words were to remind us of this truth, as Matthew 28:18 states, “I am with you always.” Psalm 139 also wonderfully captures His everpresence with verses such as,”If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.”

No matter where we are, we are never alone.

Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 Review

I didn’t catch this unique series the first time around, but the 6 issue sequel piqued my attention, due to the praise that the initial mini-series received. Here’s BOOM Studios’ official description.

What’s to Love: The first Wild’s End miniseries kept us in constant suspense with its unlikely mash-up of War of the Worlds and The Wind in the Willows. We’re holding our collective breaths once again as author Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and illustrator I.N.J. Culbard (The King in Yellow) are set to play with the paranoia and “enemy amongst us” conspiracy theories prevalent in stories we love like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The X-Files.

What It Is: As Clive, Susan, Fawkes, and the other survivors of the alien invasion of Lower Crowchurch try to cope with what just happened to their small town, the military arrives in an attempt to cover up the “incident.” Town residents are immediately detained, questioned, and treated with suspicion. Are they alien spies, collaborators, sympathizers? Clive and the rest will need to escape imprisonment if they’re to get the word out and warn the rest of the world in case the aliens return.

The tagline is “Wind of the Willows meets War of the Worlds,” and that’s an apt and charming description, but it’s more than that. Writer Dan Abnett (who revitalised the Guardians of the Galaxy with co-writer Andy Lanning) and artist I.N.J Culbard have crafted an impressive world which is very serious. Don’t let the anthropomorphic approach fool you into thinking it’s a whimsical tale full of cute characters.

It is set two weeks after the the first series, but all you need to know is woven throughout this debut issue. Abnett has the dialogue spot-on, and there’s a lot of it, but it’s so charming and authentic. It’s like something lifted from Hollywood’s Golden Age, especially a sequence early on as two science fiction writers get to know each other on a train as they are drawn into a conspiracy.

Culbard’s art (more to see here) is clean and the variety and expression with which the characters are given is very impressive. They all have personalities, and combined with Abnett’s wonderful dialogue and tense story, it makes for a tautly constructed mystery amongst a backdrop of talking animals and countryside charm.

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Cheap Batman Digital Comics

It’s Batman Day! For some reason, it’s on September 26. Most comic shops will be participating, as they did last year with giveaways like comics, capes, masks, etc. However, comiXology is having a huge sale on Batman comics – 1000 issues from various series. Yep, huge! There’s so much good stuff to see, such as the Gotham Academy series or the new Batgirl (new direction, new costume, new creative team) that has been getting rave reviews. I prefer my DC from the 90s and early 00s though, so I highly recommend any of the epic issues from Superman/Batman, the superb Nightwing, Robin or Batgirl series. The issues are 99 cents each, and there’s sooo much good stuff, and most of what’s on offer is complete runs, so buy a few issues to see if you like it and then grab the rest if you do. The sale ends on September 28 and on the day itself (the 26th), DC Comics will also be having a sale on collected editions, so check back on comiXology then. Happy cheap Batman reading!

Batman 1000 Sale

I’m Back

I started this blog in 2008. I’m not the same man today that I was then.

I’ve written reviews about comics and films, both mainstream and independent. I’ve interviewed over 120 writers, artists and creative people across a variety of websites, plus the Extra Sequential magazine and podcast. It was fun, and exciting and eventually it became less so.

Then last year, I stopped. I stopped because the joy in doing those things stopped. I was no longer motivated to spend hours at home on my keyboard every week showcasing the artistic and diverse forms of expression that gave me pleasure. A number of quiet yet powerful events occurred to bring this shift in my focus.

Some health hiccups, tremendous travel opportunities, a new job. All these things exploded in my life in and they’ve opened my eyes to see things anew.

That’s given me a renewed sense of purpose, refined by God and some beautiful people I’m blessed to call my friends.

And that’s why I want to start blogging about stuff that matters to me, and I’m sure you’ll find it interesting. I have new priorities now. The last three years have seen a dramatic turn in the way I eat, dress, and generally live. I’m twenty kilos lighter. I read and watch more diverse media. There’s an incredibly exciting opportunity within the theatre world, plus I’m starting to write again. You can catch my stories on Wattpad.

I’ve also just had a short story published in the latest issue of the new digital magazine, Phantasmagoria (such a cool name).

Have a read of my fanciful tales, and let me know what you think. There will be more. Oh yes.

Batman: Arkham Origins Collector’s Edition

October 25 sees the release of the third game in the Arkham series. This time it’s a prequel, with a more unexperienced Batman fighting off 8 assassins during the festive period. It looks grand and cinematic from what we’ve seen in the launch and gameplay trailers, and like most of the big name games these days, there’s a Collector’s Edition available. You’ll probably want to pre-order, as I’m sure they’ll fly off the shelves.

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The Dark Communion

My friend Joey Ruff has just published his first novel, and it’s now available on Amazon, with the Kindle version landing soon. The Dark Communion (Volume 1) is a massive 408 page supernatural thriller. I read an early draft and it was rather intriguing I must say. You can buy the book on Amazon right here (it’s only $15) and it will be available to order through libraries and Barnes and Noble stores soon.

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Remember Last Action Hero?

It should’ve been awesome. It wasn’t. Now free online is this great article about the troubled Arnie actioner/parody of 1993. It recently appeared in an issue of Empire, my favourite magazine and now you can read about the whole mess behind the film’s production.

Die Hard’s director. Lethal Weapon’s writer. And The Terminator himself. Last Action Hero should have been bulletproof. Instead, it brought a studio to its knees, sent its cast and crew insane and proved, really quite conclusively, that some movies are not… too big to fail.

Here’s the trailer to refresh your memory.

This Week’s Winners

I haven’t followed the monthly X-Men adventures since the ’90s, but I buy the occasional issue and know enough to understand what’s going on. Marvel’s new Point One one-shots are a good way to help new readrs get the gist though. Uncanny X-Men #534.1 by Kieron Gillen (who has been co-writing with Matt Fraction until now) and Carlos Pacheco is an entertaining newbie-friendly book. It opens with Kate Kildare, a superhuman PR specialist and Donald Evans, a respected photographer landing on the island of Utopia, where the few remaining mutants dwell to give the X-Men some spin so the public will love them more. That’s needed these days, as Magneto is now on the team, and he’s the focus of this issue. That’s not much bad guy bashing, but two pretend A.I.M agents (who are rather amusing) do get a smackdown. They threaten an earthquake in San Francisco and Namor (also a new X-Men member) tells them that, “Only Namor has the ability to make the earth move, and he reserves that privilege for one woman at a time.” It seems out of character, but it is funny. Kate’s chat with Magneto, which includes his philisophies, and a suggested costume change is the main plot of this issue. They chat about the difference between public relations and propaganda, Machiavelli, and if it’s better to be loved or feared. As a talky issue, it lays out Magento’s complex personality very well. Pacheco’s manga tendencies are softened with the inks of Cam Smith, Dan Green and Nathan Lee (yes, 3 inkers. Wow.) and Erik actually looks his age for once, rather than a generic bodybuilder with grey hair.

Superman/Batman Annual #5 – Reign of Doomsday. Superman’s spiky killer Doomsday has been doing the rounds in a few DC titles lately, and this annual picks up after JLA #55 and continues in Superboy #6. It features great art by Miguel Sepulveda, which looks kind of like a cross between Phil Jiminez and Jae Lee. James Robisnson writes this action packed issue. Despite the title, it doesn’t really feature Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, but rather Dick Grayson as Batman, and Supergirl. For most of the tale Kara (initially in her black costume) is stuck in safety of sick bay in the JLAWatchtower base as she’s sick. After receiving a diagnosis from  Dr Mid-Nite and advice from Dr. Fate, (or rather the man under the golden helmet, Kent Nelson), she gets her health and classic costume back and begins punching. Most of the action here is between cyborg Superman and Doomsday, as Cyborg Supes uses the Watchtower itself as a weapon. Doomsday however easily adapts to the attack and becomes Cyborg Doomsday, seen in an awesome double page transformation. Driven mainly by Cyborg Superman’s death wish narration, and a brief Dick and Kara team up inside, it also Blue Lantern Saint Walker and Mikaal Starman are stuck outside and see the Watchtower transform first into Cyborg Supes’ face and then DD’s. Sure it’s in the middle of a story arc I’m not following, but it looks great and Cyborg Supes has always been one of my fave DC bad guys.

Nonplayer #1 has received a lot of praise, and deservedly so. I actually read a preview digital copy last week, but loved it so much I picked up a print copy too, and it looks even more awesome on paper. I, and Mladen, talked about it in our latest podcast, but as every other reviewer who’s read this will tell you – get a copy of this unique sci-fi/fantasy/virtual life debut from Nate Simpson. If you can find a copy that is.

Thankfully a second printing will be released on May 11.

First Thor Photo

Here’s Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s Dad in Star Trek) as Marvel’s god of thunder, Thor. Looks like a very faithful representation of his current costume. On a related note, if you’re watching Iron Man 2 this weekend, make sure you stay after the credits.

Shadowland Teaser

Poor Spidey. Marvel released this teaser image for a July launching mini-series, with the following info.

Shadowland: Battle For The Soul Of New York

SHADOWLAND #1 (of 5)

Written by ANDY DIGGLE

Penciled by BILLY TAN

Cover by JOHN CASSADAY

Wraparound Variant Cover by BILLY TAN

Rated T+ …$3.99

ON SALE JULY 2010

Free Mobile Comics Mag Debuts

This really is exciting, and now I get to share it. I’ve been writing for comics site Broken Frontier for a while now, and the last few months have seen it brought to another level (thanks to my fellow BFers who are  a lot more technically minded than me) and now we’ve just unleashed the FIRST free comics magazine for mobile devices. The press release is below, but fear not – if you’re like me and have yet to step into the iPad world, you can still grab the PDF from the Broken Frontier site.

On a related note, I recently interviewed writer extraordinaire Jonathan Hickman (The Nightly News, Fantastic Four, Shield) for the mag. It was my first ever phone interview and we talked for almost an hour. It was pretty awesome, I gotta say and he’s a very interesting guy. Well, my article stemming from that interview can now be read  in the digital pages of the brand new, first issue of The Frontiersman. Oh yeah.

Broken Frontier Launches The Frontiersman, the First Mobile Comics Magazine Free magazine debuts on iPad, goes weekly on May 4

Premier comic book news site Broken Frontier (www.brokenfrontier.com) proudly unveils The Frontiersman, the world’s first digital comics magazine for mobile devices. The magazine makes its debut on iPad with The Frontiersman #1, with new issues to be released weekly on Tuesdays as of May 4, 2010.

“We’re thrilled to offer comic fans a new way to experience the richness and diversity of the comics industry,” Broken Frontier’s Editor in Chief Frederik Hautain says. The Frontiersman will act as a digital companion to the main Broken Frontier website, where readers will still find their daily dose of comics news, reviews, blogging, previews and columns.

“BF isn’t going anywhere, on the contrary,” Hautain clarifies. “What we’re doing, is presenting our more in-depth articles and interviews in a format that allows you to enjoy them at your leisure without getting lost amid the boatloads of content that the web throws at you every day.”

The Frontiersman magazine app is available for free via iTunes. While the magazine can be optimally enjoyed on iPad, it can also be downloaded free of charge in PDF on the Broken Frontier website. The Frontiersman is developed in association withNetlash, the web development partner of Broken Frontier.

The first issue features interviews with Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. on Kick-Ass, Paul Gravett on Tove Jansson’s Moominexhibition, and Jonathan Hickman on S.H.I.E.L.D., its history and political relevance. The Frontiersman #1 also dives into the storied history of The Green Hornet and spotlights this week’s top comics.

The Frontiersman, Exploring the Comics Universe. Go mobile and download The Frontiersman #1 right now on iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/frontiersman/id368550228?mt=8) or as a PDF at www.brokenfrontier.com.

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