Friday, October 23, 2015

11 things I liked about the new Star Wars trailer





11 things I liked about the new Star Wars trailer
by rick olivares

As of this writing, there are only 55 days left before the seventh Star Wars film hits theaters. I was 10 years old when the first Star Wars film was shown. For someone weaned on comic books, it was easy to love the film and I became an instant fan buying the the merchandise, the books including its expanded universe, and what have you. And say what you will about the prequels but I loved them too.

And now Star Wars: The Force Awakens is closer than its ever been. The new trailer, timed to perfection and as of this writing with close to 40 million views, has all the more left fans salivating.

Here’s are 11 scenes from the new trailer that I liked.

Rey dressed up as a Tusken Raider exploring the downed Star Destroyer.
This was the perfect way to open the new trailer. Rey dressed up as a Tusken Raider exploring the downed Imperial Star Destroyer. There’s a sense of wonder, discovery, and mystery. And Rey sitting in a tent in the desert with this dreamy look, it reminded me of how George Lucas wrote the intro for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars where he said he was a farm boy who was bored beyond belief and yearned for adventure among the stars. Deja vu all over again. 

Wonderful wonderful intro with that voice of “Who are you?” That doesn’t sound like Princess Leia or even Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma. So is that Maz Kanata?



Starkiller base.
The scene at the Empire’s Starkiller base with the huge red banner reminded me of the Nuremberg rallies especially the picture from the 1934 rally.

The Empire is alive and well. 

Finn’s change of heart.
During the Star Wars celebration last April, John Boyega, the actor who plays Finn was asked if he was indeed a Stormtrooper since the first scene of the first ever trailer showed him. Boyega and director JJ Abrams were tight-lipped. The new trailer looks like it gives away that Finn does have a change of heart. In the trailer, Finn says, "I was raised to do one thing.” So he Finn defects. Now does he steal a tie fighter that crash lands on Jakku? He now forms the new team — similar to Luke, Han, and Leia — with Poe Dameron, and Rey.

"I will finish what you started." 
What will Kylo Ren, the heir to Darth Vader, finish? Creating a new Death Star? Crushing the rebellion? I don’t think it’s the former as the Empire has lost two Death Stars to the rebellion. There has to be a more cost-effective way for crushing the rebellion. 

Poe Dameron being tortured by Kylo Ren.
If you read the new comics from Marvel titled, "Shattered Empire," Kes Dameron and Shara Bey were revealed to be husband and wife with a son named Poe. After the Battle of Endor, Bey’s commander, L’ulo, put in the paperwork discharging Bey so she could live in peace and quiet with Kes and Poe.

Before her discharge from the rebel army in "Shattered Empire,” Bey joined Luke Skywalker in liberating two trees that are known to be one with the Force from the Imperials. Luke gives one tree to Bey who looks to have settled down in a planet that resembles Yavin. So was Yavin destroyed much like Alderaan in "Star Wars: A New Hope?” 

In the first trailer cut for “The Force Awakens,” Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker voices over” The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too.” And the first face we see after Mark’s voice trails off is Poe Dameron.

So does Poe Dameron have the Force in him?

Millennium Falcon being chased by tie fighters. 
Just like old times. Perhaps the Falcon is damaged and needs repairs and that leads Han Solo and Chewbacca to meet Rey and Finn.

"There were stories about what happened. “
The new film takes place 30 years after the Battle of Endor. Who knows what is myth or reality? Han Solo, tells Rey, “It’s true. All of it.”

No reboot, folks. New films; new continuity.

Kylo Ren drawing his light saber with a group of men in shadows.
Based on the initial info coming out of" The Force Awakens,” Kylo Ren is leader of the Knights of Ren. Shades of the Nazgul. How different are the Sith from the Knights of Ren?

In “Shattered Empire,” Leia senses Darth Maul who looked to have kicked the bucket in “The Phantom Menace” only to return during the Clone Wars as half-humanoid, half cyborg as he was cleaved in half by Obi Wan Kenobi. 

Darth Sidious, who is actually the Emperor Palpatine, kept Maul in reserve. He could make a surprise appearance.

So we could see a splintered Empire with two different groups.

Rey crying & Finn vs. Kylo Ren
Whose body is that? Finn’s? Han Solo? Or is it Luke? In every first film of every Star Wars trilogy, someone dies.

In “The Phantom Menace” it was Qui-Gon Jin. In “A New Hope” it was Obi-Wan Kenobi. So those are two Jedis who kick the bucket in each trilogy opener.

By trailer’s end, we see Finn going up against Kylo Ren. So is it Finn?

It could be Luke because by trailer’s end.

Han and Leia embrace looking very sad.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens cannot come soon enough.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Here Comes Spider-Gwen!


Here comes Spider-Gwen!
by rick olivares

One of the biggest comic book characters to emerge from the past year is Marvel’s Spider-Gwen, who is essentially the Spider-Woman of a different Earth. Out of the mega-success that was the massive success that was Spider-Verse storyline that ran from Marvel Comics from November of 2014 to February of 2015 came “Spider-Gwen,” an alternate universe Gwen Stacy who took the mantle of Spider-Woman after the death of Peter Parker.

In Marvel’s original cannon, Stacy was Peter Parker’s first girlfriend who died tragically after a battle with the Green Goblin. At the time of the original storyline (Amazing Spider-Man #121), it was a sudden and controversial death and in comics lore, perhaps the only character outside Peter’s Uncle Ben who has not returned from the grave.

Emma Stone’s Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man films helped sparked an interest in the character and “re-opened old wounds” especially for older fans. The only palatable return to comic book reality was “Spider-Gwen.”

The character’s introduction in "Spider-Verse” was electric such that there was an instant demand for her own solo title. Not only did Stacy have powers (she bitten by the radioactive spider that gave Parker his powers) but she was a drummer in a band. 

Spider-Gwen struck a chord with fans primarily for her nifty costume that was designed by artist Robbi Rodriguez who added a hoodie to a costume that uses white, black, and pink colors in contrasting but impactful effect. Even the web wings look nifty. And the Spider-Gwen wears neon Chucks! The character became an instant hit with comic book artists and cosplayers. 

Comic book fan Jiggy Cruz who says that what made the character interesting for him was the costume. "What I think made her interesting is definitely the costume,” said Cruz who makes no bones about Spider-Man being his all-time favorite comic book character. "The white hoodie and the pink webbing makes it really cool. Plus she's in a rock band! It has a lot of the Spider elements into it wherein the hero does the good but has to go through a lot of complications. In the story, she has to deal with her dad going after her vigilante alter ego.”

Francis Abad who mostly collects local komiks says that he is intrigued by the Spider-Gwen character and will pick up the trade paperback. “I’m intrigued,” said Abad of Spider-Gwen. “I generally read the Spidey stories but I am intrigued (by Spider-Gwen after having read the reviews).

Spider-Gwen’s debut appearance in “Edge of Spider-Verse #2” has gone through multiple re-printings with the original pressing soaring in value. The cheapest first print will now cause fans fork over $85 while it peaks at a whopping $256!

While the character is undoubtedly popular — the first issue of that series that spun out of spider-verse saw at least 200,000 pre-orders with final sales at about 250,000 books — the stories, as written by Jason Latour, have been less than sparkling. With two first issues in the space of a year, the book has done well because of the hype and Rodriguez’ art and Rico Renzi’s palette. But the stories — seven counting Edge of Spider-Verse #2, the five Spider-Gwen’s of the first series and the new number one under the All-New All-Different banner — are no different from the debut. 

Just this past week, “Radioactive Spider-Gwen #1” came put. While there’s a push for the book and fans are picking it up, the general consensus it is more of the same.

In a review by comic book fan site, newsarama.com, David Pepose wrote: “The mass appeal of Spider-Gwen cannot be denied but the book (Radioactive Spider-Gwen) appears to be running out of steam. This issue opts to play it safe rather than push the character forward resulting in a retread that might easily get new readers but holds little interest for longtime fans. 

Jordan Calhoun of blacknerdproblems.com was mildly critical but also hopeful, "The tricky part of reading Radioactive Spider-Gwen is some lack of clarity around backstory and previous events. New readers will have a hard time keeping up with the explanatory flashbacks in Radioactive Spider-Gwen #1, and old readers might struggle with keeping this new series straight with the original Spider-Gwen solo run. It’s a weird Spider-jumble that isn’t very clear sometimes, and honestly I found myself a little lost here and there myself sometimes, but I expect this story to stand on its own soon with enough time."

Cruz weighed in his thoughts on the overall feel of Spider-Gwen, "It's an okay book for me (okay and not great) but it's really an interesting new take on a new Spider-Man character.”

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Radioactive Spider-Gwen #1 is now available in all local comic book specialty shops. 

Here are my Spider-Gwen variants!







Thursday, October 15, 2015

Comics where I had a letter printed!


Top to bottom; left to right: Aster #1, Big Bang Comics #7, Daredevil #358, Nexus Executioner's Song #4, The Mercenary Sea #3, Low #2,  Manifest Destiny #10, Deadly Class #9, Penny Dora 5, and below Groot #3. There's one missing -- it's a Fantastic Four issue (the Karl Kesel run). Lost that copy and am trying to figure out which one it is. 

Aster #1 was the first comic I had a letter ever. And I have former CATS boss Billy Lim to thank for that. Still have that original copy. 

The letters in Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Nexus are special because the three titles are among my all-time favorites. 

The one title I hope to have a letter printed - Uncanny X-Men.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doctor Strange: This isn't your kid's Harry Potter



Doctor Strange: This isn’t your kid’s Harry Potter
by rick olivares

Spells of translation. Divination. Transmogrifying fire.

Nope. That isn't JK Rowling's famous creation.

This is Doctor Strange, a character first created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko has received a huge makeover.

With a Doctor Strange film (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) in the works, the good doctor is getting a push in comics. I have to admit that I was not much of a fan of Strange. I loved the old Defenders comics but even if Stephen Strange was a staple of those stories, I wasn’t a fan. In fact, I found Alan Moore’s homage to Strange, the beatnik Johnny Beyond more interesting. Leave it to Jason Aaron to get me interested. 

Writer Jason Aaron is on a roll. After his success writing Thor, God of Thunder, arguably the most exciting and important stories about the Norse character in years, Aaron, one of comics’ top writers for a while now, sank his creative eyeteeth in Star Wars upon its return to the House of Ideas. And ten issues in, Star Wars doesn’t feel or read like a comic book. It is like you’re watching a Director’s Cut of the first trilogy. Or some lost footage. Maybe even a new film. It blends seamlessly yet the new stories  are fresh and different taking the original mythology and expanding it; making fans like me eagerly salivating for the new film.

And now, I after one issue of Doctor Strange, I too, am salivating over next.

I like how Aaron portrays Strange as quirky, weird even. It’s quite a departure from the more serious tone used on the Master of the Mystic Arts we’ve all known. Plus, he’s imbued him with some of the playboy tendencies of Tony Stark. Or maybe it’s the mustache that gets the ladies — human and non-human?

And how about that welcome to Strange’s world? He goes about dispatching demons and foul creatures (ala Ghostbusters) then has a drink at the Bar with No Doors, a gathering of Marvel’s version of Vertigo’s Trenchcoat Brigade. Strange walks around literally with his third eye (the Eye of Agamotto) on his forehead that allows him to see the very interesting interdimensional bacteria! Brilliant! This makes for so many possibilities. 

As has been a vital ingredient to Marvel Comics and their cinematic counterparts, Aaron imbues Doctor Strange with a sense of humor. “Was he just making kissing sounds…” Absolutely hilarious! Even the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff throws in a naughty jab about Strange being a dog. More of the Bar with No Doors, I say!

Now let’s not forget the action. Strange wields a battle axe against that aforementioned interdimensional bacteria and uses a massive sword that reminds me of Ilyana Rasputin’s Soulsword to dispatch Spurrgog the Hell-Breather. 

And that leads me to the art.

Chris Bachalo is a perfect fit for the book. While I have been a fan of his stuff, I wasn’t sure if it worked best with superhero comics. I picked up his Generation X and Ultimate X-Men but I thought that those book deserved clear and dynamic art instead of the more moody strokes and use of blacks Bachalo prefers. His art on Vertigo Comics’ Death defined the character. So from one “supernatural” character to another. 

I can’t wait to turn a page to see this weird and strange new world of Stephen Strange. It’s that exciting. 

In the space of one issue, Aaron and Bachalo have revitalized Doctor Strange. What they have here is a great opportunity for what was a semi-non-traditional superhero comic into an entirely different comic of the macabre, magic, and the weird.

Now waiting for the second issue… is like an eternity. If I drown a few rabbits maybe it’ll be here faster than one can say, “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!”



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Doctor Strange comics can be purchased in the Philippines through  Comic Odyssey, Comic Quest, Filbar’s, and Planet X.

Friday, October 2, 2015