Category Archives: Featured

DC Comics Reveals a “REBIRTH” Mystery in “The OZ Effect”

After months of speculation a mysterious adversary of the Man of Steel’s steps into the light and prepares to throw asunder everything that Superman has ever believed!

When DC Comics promised that it’s “Rebirth” rebranding would return many of its long-standing titles to a more proper state of familiarity, reestablishing years of legacy and working to retcon much of the unfavorable reaction that it received for “The New 52” era or reboots, many dedicated readers felt that perhaps the imprint had heard their cries! The “Rebirth” rebrand introduced an even more dense conundrum that was initiated with the return of Wally West!

The one-time Teen Titan, turned Flash had seemingly been eradicated from current continuity, along with much of the Golden Age heroes, and Superman had died — only to be replaced by his “pre-Flashpoint” counterpart; the “post-Crisis” Man of Steel that was apparently saved during the “Convergence” crossover event. Another additionally confounding mystery has also presented itself and that’s the fact that a decade of time has apparently been stolen!

Someone has been watching from the shadows, and we’re getting closer to learning the identity of the being that was powerful enough to steal time from our heroes, although most fans have already gathered there’s only one being capable of moving so fluidly between time and have such an adverse affect on the multiverse, but another shrouded agent who calls himself “Mr. OZ” has been exerted his own influence especially over the life of the Man of Steel.

The lenticular cover to ACTION COMICS #987 on sale now from DC Comics!

Who’s Watching?

It’s been theorized that the “someone” responsible for affecting the continuity is none other than the omnipotent Dr. Manhattan from the classic Watchmen series. There have been many clues to have lead us in that direction, but as for that other mystery man — Mr. OZ — who has been manipulating elements mostly connected to the world of Superman, that character’s identity has finally been revealed — and big surprise — it’s not exactly who you thought it might have been.

In the latest issue of Action Comics #987 feat. Superman the Man of Steel finally confronts Mr. OZ and after month’s of speculation it’s none other than (SPOILER ALERT) — Jor-El! That’s right! Mr. OZ is Superman, Kal-El’s Kryptonian father who so many years ago sent his son rocketing to Earth in order to survive the destruction of their home planet. Jor-El sent his infant son to Earth knowing that under our yellow sun, he would grow invincible and be gifted with unique abilities.

After some reflection though Jor-El is now regretting his decision, and has instead been plotting from the sidelines, setting in motion events to reveal humanity for the monsters that they truly are, convinced that his son — now Earth’s greatest hero, Superman — is not worthy of their protection. As the shrouded Mr. OZ, Jor-El manipulated the events that lead to the “resurrection” of Superman on Earth in a battle of wills against the mischievous Mister Mxyzptlk.

That event was chronicled in the recent “Superman Reborn” story arc that also cemented Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s marriage and place within the present continuity and firmed the legitimacy of their super-son Jon.

The OZ Effect

With the reveal of Mr. OZ’s identity marking the first part of this story event, and after the recent investigation by The Flash and Batman in “The Button” narrative that brought those characters back to the world of “Flashpoint” and back again, this latest part of the “Rebirth” chronicle is bringing everything closer to the upcoming “Doomsday Clock” limited series that is promising a final show down between the DC Comics heroes and those of the Watchmen continuity.

In the meantime, readers will have to digest and come to terms with this latest twist — one that places Jor-El not-necessarily on the side of the angels. If this is truly the Man of Steel’s long-thought dead father, how did he survive all these years and why has he been keeping his identity a secret? Why did Jor-El keep and capture some other heroes including Tim Drake, Red Robin a partner of the Caped Crusader?

What could Jor-El have in store for Superman, and does he indeed play an overall part in the entire “Rebirth” storyline, what role does he play in the scheme of things. What does this mean for Superman and his wife Lois, not to mention their son Jon?

“The OZ Effect” Part 1 is written by Dan Jurgens with art provided by Viktor Bogdanovic and is featured in Action Comics #987.

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DRAGON CON :: Day 1

Still one of the nation’s biggest gatherings for genre-fans, sci-fi aficionados and cosplayers galore DRAGON CON boasts one of the largest crowds taking over downtown Atlanta!

Arriving into the Atlanta Airport almost immediately you get the sense that something special is going on. The foot traffic leading to the baggage claim area is often decorated with hanging banners featuring colorfully crafted cosplayers as their favorite comic book characters. The dragon inspired logo reminiscent of one of the more popular houses on Game of Thrones can be seen emblemized across many of the most popular brands indicative of sponsorship opportunities, increasing the credibility of Dragon Con now in its 30th year.

Every year around this time, the last week of August into Labor Day Weekend, Atlanta’s sprawling downtown area (often the backdrop for the first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead) is turned into the region’s largest mecca for sci-fi fans and genre enthusiasts looking to meet the likeminded and cozy up to their favorite television and movie stars! Dragon Con easily shapes up as one of the country’s most popular gatherings and its grown to a spectacular degree since it was initialized in the fall of 1987.

Something for Everyone

While Comic-Cons were springing up all over the country, the progenitors of the latest fan-gathering felt that there existed a vacuum among convention experiences. While most specifically targeted comic book fans and/or science-fiction enthusiasts like trekkers, their was a lack in the market of conventions that nurtured all appetites, including fantasy followers and gamers. Soon cosplayers would emerge on the scene and this uniquely eccentric audience was also in search of an audience.

Dragon Con blended the best of all worlds and was the first to put front-and-center the many creatives that launched the success of life-long brands like Dungeons & Dragons as well as role-playing copycats, while including sci-fi celebrity writers and comic book artists. It wouldn’t be long before celebrities began to gravitate to the con, and before long the convention itself became a hub for unique interactions like when it was selected to be the home of the Origins Games Fair in 1990.

3 Decades Later

Cut to today as the crosswalks across the downtown city streets become lined with the various and colorful interpretations of gaming favorites like the forces of Halo or Gears of War and the latest Hollywood blockbusters inspire incredibly accurate recreations of the heroes from the upcoming Justice League or Marvel Film’s Infinity War and you can’t have too many Wonder Women now can you? All will be on parade Saturday morning and covered by the local news which will also feature some of the con’s celebrity guests including The Flash John Wesley Shipp.

The guest-list of featured celebrities attending Dragon Con has expanded to one of the circuit’s most varied and abundant and include current favorites from The CW DC Comics adaptations including Danielle Panabaker who stars on The Flash as “Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost” and Michelle Harrison joining Shipp as the other half of the Allen Family. They will also be joined by Arrow favorites Katie Cassidy, John Barrowman and Willa Holland as well as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow own “Rip Hunter” and Doctor Who alum Athur Darvill.

The con will also bring together the stars of Star Trek The Next Generation including Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner who will also be joined by the legendary William Shatner. With the Star Trek franchise preparing to embark on a new discovery, this gathering of some of its biggest stars will no doubt excite the dedicated to support the new venture. And that’s only a few off the top! A galaxy of guests really will be on hand to meet with their biggest fans, as well as interact in many of the star-studded panels scheduled throughout the weekend.

Thought Dragon Con is only beginning it’s already generating a lot of energy as hundreds descend upon downtown Atlanta hopeful that this time the zombie apocalypse is only a cosplay fantasy and not an inevitability, but with so many superheroes also on hand, guests can rest assured — justice will prevail!

Dragon Con schedule of events and ticket information are available at www.dragoncon.org.

iReview ◦ BATMAN: Mask of the Phantasm in Hi-Def!

Available now on Blu-ray the very first full-length animated theatrical adventure starring the Caped Crusader! Batman – Mask of the Phantasm may be a classic, but it stands the test of time especially in Hi-Def!

 

Though there have been many cartoon interpretations of the Batman. From his Saturday morning days, to his time as a member of the Super Friends. The Dynamic Duo have even on several occasions teamed-up with Scooby Doo and the gang to solve a ghoulish mystery or two, but after his blockbuster makeover by Tim Burton in the 1989 big screen Batman, the next time audiences got a whim of the Dark Knight detective Batman – The Animated Series had reimagined the hero in a stunning new way!

Using the film as a template, the Batman’s new animated adventures would more broadly appeal to a new audience. Gotham City was modeled in an art deco darkness and decadence that translated beautifully, it’s arched spires reaching into a limitless sky and providing the caped wonder with endless avenues to impose his brand of justice. Produced by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett and Eric Radomski the Animated Series would be awarded for its originality and groundbreaking storytelling!

Behind the Mask

Riding on the success of the Batman on the big screen, the DC Comics hero was enjoying a new wave of popularity, and The Animated Series was a hit in syndication! In 1993, the show’s producers readied themselves for the most ambitious story yet, but in order to tell it, they would require a larger canvas. Batman – Mask of the Phantasm (The Animated Movie) was released in theaters at Christmas time and it provided the necessary canvas to tell a story of this scope and scale.

So much of the Dark Knight’s origin story has itself become the stuff of legends. The publishing imprint, after its best-selling prestige release of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in 1986 reignited an interest in Batman that was nearly unprecedented in the genre. After the 12-issue maxi series Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted much of the DC Comics continuity, creatives had great license to explore and reinvent many of the classic characters backgrounds. Batman and his menagerie of villains proved a fertile garden in which to play.

With Tim Burton’s feature film drawing from so many of these sources and the syndicated animated cartoon expanding the mythos even further, the creators brilliantly decided to add an entire new layer elaborating on the Batman’s earliest days as a crimefighter and mixing in a potentially new adversary that is as merciless as any he’s ever faced. Largely adapted from Batman: Year Two a multi-issue narrative that appeared in the comics and was written by Mike W. Barr, Mask of the Phantasm carves a very special place in the lengthy animated storyline.

Presented In Hi-Definition

Now in its latest hi-definition release Batman – Mask of the Phantasm the film proves the test of time and surpasses any expectations. It is still one of the most dramatically provocative tales in the legend of the Dark Knight, and is expertly directed by Eric Radomski. The feature’s screenwriters have created a genuinely captivating villain in Phantasm (similar styled after the comic book character Barr introduced named The Reaper), a vigilante on a vendetta to destroy Gotham City’s underworld.

There’s a deeply seeded connection to the Batman himself as well as one to his arch-nemesis, the maniacal Joker. Both are voiced by veteran actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill who became infamously known for his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, with Dana Delany voicing a love interest from Bruce Wayne’s past before she took on the role of Lois Lane in the spin-off series Superman: The Animated Series.

If you’ve been missing the classic feel of the Animated Series fear not, we’ll all be nostalgically walking back down that road when the new full-length feature Batman and Harley Quinn is released later this month. The new film reunites many of the creatives behind the animated series, but in the meantime, go hi-def and get reacquainted with Mask of the Phantasm — get a glimpse of how it all began, including our fandom for the Dark Knight’s animated adventures.

Batman – Mask of the Phantasm (The Animated Movie) directed by Eric Radomski and starring the voice talents of Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner and Mark Hamill and is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD in its full widescreen presentation as well as the original “made for TV” format with bonus features.

Unboxing :: STAR TREK Starships Collection – DAEDALUS CLASS

Eaglemoss Collections marks a milestone with the release of a class starship design for its 100th issue! The USS Horizon comes to life in this die-cast model with full details about the Daedalus Class ship often featured in The Original Series.

For the ardent Star Trek collector there is nothing more fascinating than the various ships in the fleet that provide an unwavering optimism that leads to fanciful expectations about the future of space travel and man’s potential to traverse the final frontiers beyond our own milky way. Gene Roddenberry imagined a 22nd Century and beyond with Star Trek and built upon the imaginations of many to world build a Federation that included many intrepid explorers before and after the legendary voyages of the famous first five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise.

Its captain James T. Kirk was only one of the many explorers to take those first steps into the unknown, and although we know of the adventures of Capt. Jonathan Archer that predated Kirk’s own mission, and captains Picard, Sisko and Janeway that would make their own contributions further into the 24th Century, there is still so many more missions that we’ve yet to mine. With each release in Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek Starships Collection we get a greater scope of the mythology of space travel within the realm of Star Trek.

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A (Daedalus) Class All Of Its Own!

Launched in the latter half of the 22nd Century, the Daedalus Class (Issue #100) is an explorer vessel that would replace the more compact and sportier-corvette look of the NX class ships that pioneered Earth’s ventures into uncharted territory. By 2161 the Federation of Planets was constituted and this brought the planet Earth closer to its space-faring neighbors. In accordance with Starfleet’s aspiring directives to seek out new life and civilizations, ships like the USS Horizon (a Daedalus Class explorer) were commissioned.

Approximately 140 meters in length, the Daedalus Class was right fitted to carry a crew compliment of about 230 individuals, and could achieve a speed of warp 7, far superseding the NX class which was limited to warp 5. Configured similarly to other Starfleet vessels, the design featured a primary hull connected to a secondary engineering section, with two nacelles placed in close proximity to the ship’s midsection. The Daedalus Class was uniquely identified by its spherically shaped primary hull, which at the time was felt a shape that would best withstand the vacuum of space.

An Original Concept

The Daedalus Class was based on an initial design by Original Series designer Matt Jefferies who when charged with realizing Roddenberry’s vision for the Enterprise avoided using a saucer because it might have felt cliche, so the artist chose a sphere for the ship’s main characteristic. A lot of the concepts first explored by Jefferies were also based in functional reality and physics, and the idea of a spherical primary hull made perfect sense. On the model it makes for a very dramatic appearance and very utilitarian approach.

The die-cast model is based on a model that was commissioned by Michael Okuda and built by Greg Jein. The Daedalus Class would become a popular design within the Star Trek mythology, and definitely does suggest the evolution of space travel between Archer’s NX ship and Kirk’s own Constitution-class that would become legendary. Eaglemoss’ approximately 5.5 inch replica may be the first time that collectors have had a chance to hold this classic ship and examine it from every perspective.

Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek Starships Collection Issue #100 DAEDALUS CLASS is available now at most retail collector stores or through the website at www.startrek-starships.com.

“Out Loud & Live!” with JC Alvarez

Episode: #304: “Let’s Get Reacquainted…”

On this episode…let’s get things rolling in the aftermath of San Diego Comic-Con 2017! Lightning strikes again on a new series coming to The CW and some news about returning favorites! What you should be reading now in DC Comics featuring the voice talents of a special guest, and there’s a new Star Trek to discover! (Original Airdate – 7/31/2017)

A Mutant Renaissance :: Marvel Comics X-MEN GOLD & BLUE

The Uncanny X-Men are back in the spotlight with a pair of coinciding series that bring with them a new revitalization of a franchise that was once the pearl of Marvel Comics! Setting the Blue and Gold standard!

Once upon a time there were these misfits teenagers brought together under the sage guidance of a headmaster of a “school for the gifted”, but just how gifted these unlucky teens were wasn’t entirely clear even for their creator. After a string of successes that included the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Avengers and even the Hulk, Marvel Comics the House of Ideas wanted more from Stan Lee and demanded another hit from the man!

Stan had already given the world the mightiest, the most amazing, and the fantastic — the only thing left to do was go astonishing and uncanny! The answer came in the form of The Uncanny X-Men. Published in 1963 the group would be a very close reflection and raise social commentary on the social upheavals being experienced in American culture. The X-Men were “mutants” — humans born with the genetic propensity to super powers!

Where most of Stan’s creation had derived their abilities from unfortunate accidents, given to supernatural or super scientific circumstance, mutants were born with their gifts, and ultimately became the focus of fears and prejudice by a “normal” society that felt threatened by mutants  evolutionary advantage, or in some cases their ascent to superiority. It led to some of the series most outstanding storylines.

Uncanny!

The obscure popularity of the X-Men especially in those early adventures certainly solidified an audience for the group of teenagers who took it upon themselves to travel the world in defense of those feared and disenfranchised who couldn’t help themselves, but suddenly the title’s demand starting to wain. In 1969 the original stories ended with the release of Issue #66 and the series continued with reprints into it’s Issue #93.

In 1975 the “All-New, All-Different” line-up was introduced by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and with Giant-Size X-Men #1 a new era was born. The team was a mix of diversity featuring characters from all corners of the globe. At first the new members had a difficult challenge of proving themselves, especially to one another, but soon they would develop into a family. These X-Men would be properly introduced with Issue #94 of The Uncanny X-Men written by Chris Claremont.

Claremont would begin an unprecedented 16-year run on the title that would propel The Uncanny X-Men to the top at Marvel Comics marking the mighty mutants (alongside Spider-Man) the lead sellers for the publishing giant. The X-Men’s message of inclusivity among diversity resonated with readers from all walks of life, and secured their transition into mainstream with a blockbuster film franchise, Saturday morning cartoons and several action figure toy lines.

All-New, All-Different

In recent times, the mutants have taken a backseat to the other members of the Marvel pantheon including The Mighty Avengers who have themselves overtaken the cinematic spectrum of the Marvel Films universe and become bigger stars on the big screen then they might have ever been in the publishing mecca. Over the course of the characters’ rise among theater audiences, the Avengers became the center narrative of the publishing arm of Marvel as well.

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This didn’t leave much room for the X-Men who never fell out of favor with their fandom, but were relegated to the side as a clear uniformity was built to strategically align with the cinematic world, to which the X-Men were not (at least at the moment) subscribed to. While many of the publishing events centered on the Avengers, the X-Men were often written into B-stories, or segregated into inclusion with representation coming only from the bigger stars in the line like Wolverine or Storm.

It has also quickly become evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has also substituted the mutants within its narrative with the Inhumans — a nearly godlike off-shoot of the human race that has lived in seclusion and often in hiding from the rest of mankind, but who have been taking their place at the table in contemporary plot lines. The Inhumans became centrifugal in two recent publishing events, and took over an arc on television’s Agents of SHIELD.

The Inhumans will also headline their own primetime series this fall on ABC.

Astonishing in Blue and Gold

One would assess that with the continuing profitability of the X-Men movie franchises still drawing audiences nearly two decades later, especially after a recent cinematic reboot, the mutants had a fanbase that would not be ignored. It appeared that the time to reinvest in the X-Men had arrived. Springing out of the recent Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series which pit the two enigmatic forces against one another, Marvel retconned the X-Men titles with a series of brand new #1s.

Reintroduced in the one-shot X-Men Prime #1 the future of the X-Men is precarious at best, so looking to the future Storm insists that Kitty Pryde return to the fold and assume a role she has been groomed for her entire career. Ororo wants Kitty to lead the X-Men and serve as a role-model, as headmistress to the next generation of young mutants. In order to achieve that goal, Kitty demands that the X-Men must give up their exile and rejoin the rest of planet.

At the conclusion of the aforementioned Inhumans vs. X-Men limited series, the X-Men moved their base of operations to Limbo in order to escape the effect of the Inhuman’s Terrigen mist; released into the Earth’s atmosphere and proven dangerous to mutants. With little other choice left to them, the X-Man Magik moves their headquarters to her demonic Limbo. Not exactly an ideal location by which to thrive and or raise a family. Kitty demands that the group return to Earth.

Using her skills of teleportation Magik lands the X-Men and their mansion into the heart of New York City, literally placing the home in Central Park. Kitty is able to keep most of the team together, but does not convince the “original” five X-Men including Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman to stay with the group. The time-displaced teenagers decide that the future they’ve inherited is not all that it’s cracked up to be and carve out their own path.

X-Men: Gold is written by Marc Guggenheim and follows the more traditional course of action as Kitty attempts to secure her X-Men’s place in the world. Fighting on her side are classic X-Men including Storm, who has given up the reigns of leadership to Kitty, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Prestige (Rachel Grey) and Old Man Logan. Their mission statement remains the same, and already they’ve come face-to-face with a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Sentinels.

The title in the line X-Men: Blue is written by Cullen Bunn who is propelling the younger “originals” led by Jean Grey on a completely different tangent. This group has decided on Jean’s insistence to ally themselves with the X-Men’s greatest foe Magneto and it’s evident that the Master of Magnetism has his own agenda in the works. If some of these larger, over-reaching arcs sound familiar, you’re not alone. You’ve been reading X-Men comics for more than three decades.

No one may want to admit that what the X-Men require is a significant reboot that simplifies the mythology. It had gotten particularly out of hand in the late 90s into the start of the new millennium, and has just not been able to get back to the richer, humanistic story arcs that Claremont infused into the title. The writer even attempted to return to the comic for a short period of time, and it appeared that the magic truly had gone off into limbo.

X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue are on sale now and are published by Marvel Comics.