Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy 1st Anniversary, Pop Til You Drop

Arrived really really late to the 1st Anniversary Party of Pop Til You Drop (sadly, I rushed from work). I brought my Captain America Civil War lunch box with a Cap and Black Panther Pop inside! 

Was able to get a special Captain America Pop (one I don't have) so it was still worth going. And I had my picture taken! That's it. 

Happy Anniversary, PTYD!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dexter Soy signing of Red Hood and the Outlaws

Got my copy of Red Hood and the Outlaws signed by artist Dexter Soy last Saturday, July 30 at Comic Odyssey, Fullybooked, BGC.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Gonna have Mike Zeck sign this!

The Punisher Magazine was published in May of 1989 as a re-print publication for the first ever Punisher regular series. 

To be honest, I wasn't a fan of Mike Zeck's work. I picked up his Captain America simply because I was a Cap fan. I skipped Punisher: Circle of Blood because of that... until I bought this magazine. 

Mike did the painted cover for #1 and all the interior art! Fabulous, isn't it?

Mike's art really stood out in this black and white format. It was then I realized that the colorist didn't match his palette to suit Mike's art style. 

I did eventually pick up Circle of Blood but this B&W magazine is still my fave. 

Am glad that I still have this after all these years. And with Mike coming over for AsiaPop 2016, am gonna shake his hand and ask him to sign this.

Brie Larson is Captain Marvel!

I'm liking Brie Larson as Carol Danvers.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

DC Universe’s Rebirth is a long time coming

DC Universe’s Rebirth is a long time coming
by rick olivares

As a long time comic book fan, I picked up DC Universe Rebirth.

In the morass that is DC continuity with its constant reboots and retcons, one can easily get lost in the shuffle. What is canon and what isn’t? Did this story really happen? What has been erased from continuity?

As a youngster, the DC titles that I read and collected included Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Blackhawk, Freedom Fighters, All-Star Squadron, Metal Men, the Flash, the New Teen Titans, and anything that had the Justice Society of America. The JSA was my fave DC super-team. 

I only became a Batman reader after the publication of The Dark Knight Returns because I was a fan of Frank Miller’s work on Marvel’s Daredevil. Superman? Never read it until John Byrne rebooted the character in Man of Steel. Wonder Woman? It took the new series by George Perez for me to come on board. 

Somewhere in between all of that, I thought that Crisis On Infinite Earths was one of the most important comics of the 1980s and perhaps today given its influence that is still felt in the telling of its modern mythos.

Despite that, I loved the multi-verse and always thought that the Earth-2 heroes had more interesting heroes. Having said that, I wondered how was it Earth-2 was called that when they had the original super-heroes? Anyways...

When Supergirl was killed by the Anti-Monitor in Crisis, I wasn’t upset. When the Flash crumbled into dust in the very the next issue of Crisis, I felt bad. And I am a major Flash fan. I recall not being too happy with the storylines then but accepted things including Wally West taking the mantle of the Flash because they were done gradually and with a plan. I don’t think it was foisted upon readers.

What were my thoughts when Man of Steel, Batman: Year One, and Perez’ Wonder Woman reboot were published? I thought they were some of the best stories about these characters ever told. And Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters - to this day the way Mike Grell portrayed Oliver Queen is the template for this urban hero. Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn as written by Jim Owlsey, Keith Giffen, and Gerard Jones and pencilled by Mark Bright was pretty cool too.

In my opinion, what made these rebooted stories acceptable and palatable to the long-time DC fan was they were not only well-written but they were superbly drawn. They also took great care in paying homage to the past while updating the characters for a modern audience. 

I am not too sure where it all turned sour. None of the books that I enjoyed as a kid -Freedom Fighters, All-Star Squadron, Batman and the Outsiders etc — were around. The Titans were still there but the great run of Marv Wolfman and George Perez was long done. The Legion? They were so unrecognizable and all the numbering had me confused. When Giffen Tom Bierbaum wrote “The End” in LSH #38 (December 1992 with Jason Pearson and Karl Story handling the art chores) where the Dominators finally destroyed the earth, I felt bad but it was more of a relief. 

Batman it seemed, was the only consistent one. Yet, I found myself increasingly disenchanted with the mounting body count and the really grim stories. It seemed that with every Joker story, the creative team looked for more gruesome ways to kill and up the body count. Even my fave team, the JSA, was not immune to this. When the Golden Age team returned with new characters and the scions of the older heroes taking their place, they torpedoed into one murderous storyline after another without reprieve. I grew weary after a while. 

When the New 52 was published, I tried out some titles then completely dropped everything. I came back for Jason Fabok’s run on Justice League but more for the art than the story. I am sorry. I really cannot accept that Lex Luthor is a member of the league more than Wolverine can be an Avenger. That’s like asking Osama Bin-Laden to become a US Navy Seal. 

Then I got rid of many of the titles I have become disenchanted with leaving what I liked. I found myself purchasing more and more of the pre-Crisis stuff that I liked. 

I wondered if I had gotten too old for the more comics. I don’t think so. I do get a lot of indies so that debunks that “getting old” point. I think it is more of what happened to good old storytelling? The reboots after Crisis were tastefully done. They weren’t even driven. Just solid storytelling.

Let me say that again… I don’t mind the changes, the new characters taking over from the old; that’s life. What I do mind are stories that are done as gimmicks, have no regard to the past, and are sales events for the heck of  sales events. 

If you look across the comic book landscape, the books outside the mainstream titles — the B-titles if you will - are the ones that do well. Who would have thought that Omega Men would be a hit?

If you look at DC’s updated versions of the Hanna-Barbera line, it is only Future Quest that pays great care to the original characters and that is why it has been universally lauded. Scooby Apocalypse feels like an attempt to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I was so put off by the first issue. Ditto with Wacky Raceland. the characters from the latter two books I mentioned are so far off they are almost unrecognizable. And lastly, there’s The Flintstones that attempts to mimic modern-day concerns albeit in the Stone Age. I am not sure what to make of it. While I know they are all updated, I am not expecting more of the slapstick comedy we know from the cartoons. I just found the Flintstones a heavy read devoid of warmth. I’ll say this though - thank God for Future Quest! 

And that leads me back to Rebirth. 

DC can sugarcoat the New 52 all they want but it was a disaster. And the people behind Flashpoint and the New 52 are still behind Rebirth. They don’t admit it but it was a full retreat from the characters and comics that didn’t resonate much with fans; hence, poor sales. 

DC Universe: Rebirth attempts to tie in everything from Crisis to Zero Hour to Flashpoint. I appreciate making use of the Flash, albeit the Wally West version to touch base with all the time lines. After all it was Barry Allen who opened up all this multiverse stuff in the now classic, “Flash of Two Worlds” in “Flash #123 (September 1961). Because of the revelation in this story that ties in Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” that was never previously part of its official storyline, there will be sweeping changes and minor ones. How this all unfolds will take time. 

It is interesting to note that Watchmen is said to be the final word on super-heroes. Yet, is it? When “Kingdom Come”, that incredible apocalyptic story by Alex Ross and Mark Waid was published in 1996 (something that began outside continuity but has since been integrated), it started off with the dark tone of the heroes and the world they live in. It got so bad that eventually, humanity decided to take the world back and they nuked the super-powered beings. Those characters who survived the nuclear attack went back to basics. Something that one can draw parallels in comics. Back to basics but moving forward. If the films “Man of Steel” and “Dawn of Justice” are the offspring of “Watchmen” then clearly in this world inundated with almost daily reports of terrorism and death, are sick and tired of grim and gritty.

The last word? Hardly. Hence, Rebirth. Am I interested in this new/old direction?

For sure. A lot is still not clear. The Batman stories continue but it seems like Green Arrow is new because he never met Black Canary before. In Aquaman, it looks like is only now the surface world is dealing with Atlantis and its denizens. I could just think, I’ll read this stuff and take it for what it is but that can’t be unless this is your first introduction to these characters. A lot is still confusing. What is canon and what isn’t?

What am I currently reading?
The Flash
Green Arrow

Checking out but not committed.
New Superman

Some old DC comics that I used to have I picked up again!

Lost these comics to time! So it felt good to get them back and enjoy reading them all over again. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The best movie trailers previewed at the 2016 San Diego ComicCon

The best movie trailers previewed at the 2016 San Diego ComicCon
by rick olivares

Holy Summer Blockbuster, Batman! Hollywood has taken over comicdom’s biggest event.

Well, it has for years and for sure we’ll get to the comics at some point. For now, the four-day event previewed a lot of new film and television shows and we ranked the five best film trailers — in descending order.

5 Dr. Strange
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Of the five we have listed, Dr. Strange received the benefit of a first trailer months ago. The new trippy cut contains even more footage and is almost totally different. I think that the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange is a home run. On the other hand, I am not crazy about Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One as I am not crazy of this forced diversity that deviates from established canon. Nevertheless, I am excited to see this film.

If there is anything we’ve learned from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, all is not what it seems as well. Maybe I am hoping that director Scott Derrickson who cut his eyeteeth doing horror films will meld the current comic storyline of writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo that presents Strange’s world as a mystical superhero version of Harry Potter into this origin re-telling. And I figure the end of the trailer — Strange noting the word “shamballa” on a piece of parchment paper is his ‘mantra’ to which Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Karl Mordo replies, “Your wifi password. We’re not savages.” -  is an indication that this going to be one strange but exciting journey.

For those not weaned on the comics, “Shamballa" is another dimension where Strange ventured into in that incredible graphic novel written by J.M. DeMatteis and painted by Dan Green in September of 1986.

4 Justice League
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Hey! There’s day-glo around this and is so unlike “Man of Steel” or “Dawn of Justice”. Some snappy banter that isn’t Barry Allen at all (okay, they have really gone with a younger character). Ben Affleck as a smiling Bruce Wayne who engages the strikingly beautiful Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in conversation. 

Essentially, Wayne sans his costumed alter ego is going around gathering warriors to deal with an upcoming and nameless threat. And they fall in. Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Cyborg. The scene where Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman converses with Bruce Wayne reminds me of the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm discovering Namor as a hobo.

You know Superman is going to be here for the next cut of the trailer. This one though whets everyone’s appetite. 

3 Lego Batman movie
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From the get-go, this one had me laughing. Imaginative. Funny. It’s nice to see voice actor Will Arnett return however this time with Michael Cera as Robin! I keep thinking of that goofy high-pitched voice of his in “Juno” and adapting that to Dick Grayson is a riot! And this is a first — Canadians playing Batman and Robin! 

2 Kong: Skull Island
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The second of Legendary Pictures’ reboots of classic monster films. They did Godzilla in 2014 that I wasn’t really crazy about. I love Peter Jackson’s 2005 reboot that starred Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody. For this new version directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer), Ann Darrow, Carl Denham, and Jack Driscoll are all out. Kong: Skull Island features characters and coincidentally, three of the top stars are all Marvel Cinematic Universe stars — Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Samuel Jackson (Nick Fury), and Brie Larson (who was named in the just-concluded SDCC as the new Captain Marvel). 

Peter Jackson created a frightening Skull Island but Vogt-Roberts’ version as John Goodman’s narration of “Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind” leaves your imagination to run wild. There’s a massive bloody palm on the side of a mountain. Giant skeletons. Painted warriors amidst ruined temples. 

More than a re-make, I love the new angle of the survival of the strongest species. As Jackson’s character of Colonel Packard suggests, it’s “Time to show that man is king.”

Now hopefully, this is better than Godzilla.

1 Wonder Woman
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Given DC Comics’ recent “Rebirth” storyline, I like how this Wonder Woman film somewhat goes back to basics — Paradise Island, Steve Trevor washed ashore, fighting Nazis — well, she was created by William Moulton Marsten in 1941. As for Gadot’s Wonder Woman — wow. I never thought that someone would replace Lynda Carter in my mind as this pop culture icon but the Israeli actress did. 

When WW emerges from the trench (set during World War I), I am reminded of Arthur Machen’s popular legend about the “Angels of Mons” where angels supposedly rescued British troops besieged by German forces during the Battle of Mons in France (August 22-23, 1914). And from there on it’s all action!

Can’t wait for this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

At the Rian Gonzales Betty & Veronica #1 signing at Comic Odyssey, FullyBooked, BGC

At the signing for Betty & Veronica #1. Rian Gonzales drew one of the variant covers for the re-booted comic featuring these two favorites. The comic is written and drawn by Adam Hughes who also did the main cover. Rian is one of 16 artists (Hughes included) to lend their talent to the cover art.

I asked Rian to do an original sketch of Betty (I am Team Betty all the way) and her version of Hotdog!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Local artist Rian Gonzales illustrates Betty & Veronica

Rian Gonzales and her cover to Betty & Veronica #1
Local artist Rian Gonzales illustrates Betty & Veronica
by rick olivares

Hold the presses and pinch the girl to make sure she isn’t dreaming!

Lifelong comic book fan and illustrator Rian Gonzales got to live out her dream when she was asked to provide cover art for the relaunched “Betty & Veronica” #1 that will be out in all comic book stores by Thursday, July 21. And this coming weekend, this talented young woman who read — and still does — Archie comics as a kid, will be signing copies of the first issue at Comic Odyssey at FullyBooked Promenade, Bonifacio Global City (Saturday, 1-4pm, July 23rd) and at Filbar’s UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City (2-6pm, July 24th).

"Betty & Veronica" is the third relaunched title from the successful update on the popular Archie line of comics. The new book follows the successful relaunches of “Archie" (by Mark Waid and Fionat Staples/ Annie Wu) and “Jughead" (Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson) and will be written and drawn by noted “cheesecake’” artist Adam Hughes. Gonzales is one of 25 different artists who are doing variant covers.

The Filipina artist was discovered by chance after she posted on Twitter her take of Archie, Betty, and Veronica. "I like the new series (the Waid and Staples/Wu book) so much that I drew Betty, Veronica and Archie in my style,” said the 23-year old freelance illustrator. "I posted it on my Twitter and I was surprised to see Fiona Staples commented on it! Shortly after, I received a mail from my online store with a subject: 'Riverdale Greetings'. I had to double check and make sure that it wasn't wrongly sent! That was Jonathan Betancourt, Director of Book Operations and Sales for Archie Comics, who told me they were planning to reboot Betty and Veronica and thought that my art was perfect for it.”

Once Gonzales snapped out of her fangirl reverie, she buckled down to work.

"I initially made three studies for the editors to choose from for the cover and they picked the one I liked the least! It was Mike Pellerito, Archie Comics President, who chose it. As I was working on it, I realized why they picked it! It has a more interesting layout and it showed a lot of the characters. It was also the most challenging of the three so I was also thankful that I got to brush up into drawing backgrounds for the project.”

It’s a dream come true for the young artist who during her school days would save up her money to buy comic books (among others). "Growing up, I'd save up a bit of my allowance to read Archie comics, Spider-Man, and W.I.T.C.H. More recently, my absolute favorites are Paper Girls, Batgirl, Gotham Academy, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and of course, Archie Comics! I'm currently on the lookout for the DC Rebirth Nightwing and the Teen Titans titles! I read a bunch of mangas too."

"Archie comics was a big part of my childhood. To see them change throughout the years was such a pleasure. When I found out about the reboot, I was sure I'd already be following the series! I even got more interested when I found out that one of my art idols will be illustrating the interiors for it! Mark Waid's writing on this series is incomparable! He managed to stay true to the characters' personalities and added more depth into them! It was truly a treat reading through all the issues."

Following her twin signings, Gonzales will participate in the upcoming AsiaPop ComicCon in August of this year where she says "I'm making art for that.” 

"I'll also be part of the INK at 25 exhibit sometime in September at the Ayala Museum,” added Gonzales. "Cover art-wise, nothing soon that I can divulge at the moment but definitely keep your eyes peeled!"

Some of Rian's cover studies for Betty & Veronica #1

Friday, July 1, 2016

Now have a complete set of Captain America Funko Pops

Now have a complete collection of the Captain America Funko Pops. No, this doesn't include the varints or the unmasked versions. Not into that stuff. In this pic is also the Dorbz and the Hero Remix Bobblehead.