Saturday, August 16, 2014

3 Great Comic Reviews This Week!!

Sorry about the delay on last weeks comic book reviews. We will get back on track this coming week. We fell a little behind due to some personal issues and the promotional workload picking up for the Comic Book Swap Meet...If you didnt know already, check it out...Who is coming? More info over at and

Reviews by Joe David Thompson

Lots of new number ones and books returning from a production hiatus are all over the new comic releases this past week.
As I'm currently plowing through Rick Remender's run on Uncanny X-Force, I picked up his new sci-fi, apocalyptic Low, out on Image Comics (of course!), to see what he's got going on over here. 

The premise of Low is that as the sun begins to die, humanity is forced under the water, setting up colonies under the ocean, complete with rival factions and pirates.  Civilization is hunting for a new planet, while trying to survive on the dying one.  Remender introduces us to the plight of these people, through the eyes of Johl and Stel Caine, the founders and protectors of the city.  Johl has given up hope in finding a refuge, while Stel routinely checks their probes for new information.  Exposition is accomplished through an extended scene of playful nakedness with the married couple, and we get TONS of information.  Johl is ready to bring his daughters into his world of donning the nearly mythical "Helm," a suit that only Caine's can pilot, and searching for food for the colony (as his son has no interest).  Stel, of course, thinks they aren't ready, but she goes along with her husband's wishes. 
Remender does a great job balancing the science fiction elements with more grounded character work.  The way he portrays Johl and Stel's marriage is honest in a refreshing way, especially given the futuristic backdrop of this story.  Likewise, in the book's climactic battle, we get a full idea of the stakes and the world, where survival isn't just about finding a new planet, but living in this one.  We're given a better look at the caste system that's sprung up, and how this breeds vitriol. 
Greg Tocchini is delivering some of the best comic art this week.  The devil is in the details and there are plenty of them at play in Low, all of which work together to create the world of this book. 
My other two big books this week are ones returning after a bit of a stretch.  Production delays are nothing new to comics, but with serialized storytelling, consistency keeps the plot fresh in the minds of the readers.  
First up is Sandman Overture #3, from celebrated author Neil Gaiman and acclaimed artist JH Williams III.  Here, we follow Morpheus as he accompanies himself on the path towards a star that’s gone mad.  It could possibly mean the death of the universe and Morpheus himself as various interstellar races head to the same location.  Along the way, he and his cat self encounter the three fates, and pick up a small child who’s family was murdered and Morpheus avenged.  There’s plenty of references to the Sandman mythology and Morpheus tells a “love” story that he has never told before.  
Overture is meant to be a prequel to Gaiman's iconic Vertigo series, The Sandman, telling the story of the battle that led to Morpheus' exhaustion and capture that set Sandman into motion.  Gaiman's voice is all over this book, which is no surprise at all, and fans of the series and author are no doubt in heaven.  JH Williams III's art is jaw droppingly beautiful, which is what comic readers have come to expect.  It's a book that's dense with ideas and deals heavily with one of Gaiman's favorite themes, the power of stories.  While I want to adore this book as much as my eyes, a story as rich as Overture is difficult to penetrate with a sporadic production schedule.  I realize it's often out of the creative team's hands, but for me (and I hate to say this), I'm getting the vibe that I'll be waiting for the inevitable deluxe collection to dive completely into this book.  Overture isn't a book to be taken casually.  This is a book that rewards careful reading, and immerses its readers fully into its world.
Finally, Marvel's Hawkeye is back!! 
Although there's been sad news for this title of late, that writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja are leaving after issue 22, this issue still proves they have the momentum to deliver an excellent tale.  Hawkeye has also been plagued with delays, with four months having passed since the last issue.  Issue 19 proves these guys still got it, delivering an experimental issue calling back to the famous "Pizza Dog" story.  Of course, we have to remember that Hawkeye's also spilt its narrative between Kate Bishop, on the West coast, and Clint still in NYC battling The Clown.  What this means is that we haven't checked in on Clint since January (our time), when he was shot. 
Now Clint is struggling with a hearing impairment, something we discover he suffered with as a child.  Unable to hear, the dialogue in this issue is hardly present.  Whenever Clint is on page, we see blank word balloons where the intent is told through the image and the shape of those balloons.  In other spots, great care is taken to render the ASL (American Sign Language) to deliver the words.  It's a striking undertaking, and one which Fraction and Aja pull off with incredible results.
In a flashback, we watch Clint and his older brother, Barney, as children dealing with Clint's hearing loss and domestic abuse.  There's a scene with the brothers, one that both gives us a deeper glimpse at the bond between these characters, but sums up Clint's emotional state.  Barney imparts his wisdom to his baby brother: "Make everything something to hit with.  And hit them until they stop."  It's a moment both tragic, that their world has taken them to this point, and one that adds new depth to Clint's character arc on Fraction's run.  This memory inspires Clint to make a speech to his building's tenants, one meant to inspire them and prepare them for what's to come.  Clint and Barney undertake a massive assault on the "Bro's," hitting their businesses and people.
Hawkeye is also one of those books where the entire creative team creates something larger than their individual parts.  Fraction has grown into an insightful writer, capturing subtle, yet impactful emotional character beats with a clarity we don't usually see in comics.  David Aja's artwork and Matt Hollingswoth's color palette have always jumped off the pages, an integral part of the aesthetic that sets the tone of the book.  Aja's attention to detail to the signing in this issue gives readers an idea of just how professional and dedicated he is to the work.
What did you like this week?  What turned you off?

Joe David Thompson has been doing media reviews for websites such as Red Carpet Crash and the 405 Music Blog. For any questions or comments for Joe David Thompson, you can email him at and follow him on twitter @jovid52

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cosplay talk with Kit Cosplay

by Kit Cosplay July/August 2014
“Ok, I get what cosplay is… but WHY  do you do it?”

This may seem like a fairly straightforward question, but if you ask a group of ten cosplayers, chances are that you’ll get ten different responses. People make and don a costume for a variety of reasons, and they’re all completely valid (unless you’re putting on a costume to be a creep, then, well, that’s not so awesome).

I reached out to a few of my friends that cosplay to ask why they do it, and received some amazingly thoughtful answers. I was originally going to take snippets from their responses, and write an article around that, but I found that I could not cut any of their answers – they are all so candid, different, and robust that I wanted to share everything they had to say. So, without further ado, let’s find out what they had to say.

Brigid of Sinclaire Cosplay says: “I cosplay because it gives me an opportunity to be, even just for a weekend, a one-woman show. I get to simultaneously express my need to act, use my creative skills, and pay homage to something I care about. I also get to solve a puzzle with every new costume; studying references, drafting patterns, and shopping for the perfect material.”

What particularly stuck out to me from Brigid’s response was her admittance of enjoying the planning, drafting, and construction phase of cosplay – she refers to it as a “puzzle” that needs to be solved. Brigid is an absolute wizard at constructing beautiful ballgown costumes – keep up with her projects here.

In response to “why do you cosplay?” Meris said, “I cosplay because I have always enjoyed costumes and playing dress-up. Cosplay gives me a medium to express my enjoyment of a character or franchise. And, it’s a fun way to challenge, improve, and show off my sewing skills. Additionally, cosplay gives [my husband] and I something geeky to do together at cons!”

Having a partner in crime when cosplaying has always been a great motivator for me. Meris and her husband work together to construct awesome couple costumes. She writes a sewing blog with some helpful insight in costume construction at
Matt as Batman

The next person I talked to was Matt, who does a fantastic Batman. Matt regularly spends a lot of time volunteering with Comic Book Characters for Causes, and has a heart of gold. His response was: “When I first started my Batman cosplay, it was because of my relationship with the character. Whether it was play-acting, or for the aspect of the costume being some sort of tribute, it was all about me. However, now that I have done some events in costume, I really appreciate the relationships that the people I’ve met have with the character. I bring back their memories, I bring back their childhood, and it’s like they’re meeting a hero. It’s so much more about [fans of Batman] now, more than ever. “
Abi's Rogue

Abi of Abi Sue Cosplay also volunteers a lot of her time with CBC4C as well. She says: “I’ve been cosplaying for about 5 years now, and I can say that my reasons for doing so grow every year. When I started, I was just interested in having a crafting project to work on, and wanted a costume to wear when I attended my first convention. Now that I’ve been cosplaying for a while, I have many more reasons to keep going. I love the way you can be someone else for a day. Put on a costume, and your “normal life” with a job, bills, responsibilities… melts away – you’re suddenly somebody else. Sometimes, in the eyes of children, you really are that character (and that’s really rewarding).” She goes on to say that, “I have a giant list of costumes that I want to do, and they keep getting more complicated. I love the crafting part of cosplaying, it lets me be super creative and feel like I’ve accomplished major feats when I finish a costume. I also meet the most amazing people and get to volunteer to help raise funds for children’s charities – I mean, really, its super rewarding to be able to use a hobby to help children. It’s an amazing community that I have the privilege of being a part of.”

My friend Kayla really drove it home, with her response: “I cosplay because it’s an escape for me. Life throws us curve balls everyday. And, sometimes, life can be hard. Cosplay gives us a chance to be someone else. It could be a cute princess, or a mighty warrior… For that one moment, I feel completely free [of life’s hardships].” Kayla does cosplay photography in addition to cosplaying. You can find her works of art here.                                     
AJ as Captain America

Lastly, A.J. had a very altruistic reason for cosplaying: “I have long since learned that being part of something bigger than yourself is better than going at it alone. With the cosplay I do, I get to be part of a huge world of imagination and hope. No longer am I merely average-guy A.J., but I’m Captain America and I have a whole pantheon of heroes to back me up to go out and make the world a little bit better than it was before.”

I found it particularly interesting that there’s a couple underlying themes amongst all the separate responses; People participate in this hobby like other people read a good book, or watch a movie – it’s a chance to escape the responsibilities of life for a time, and have the freedom of expressing love for a story. Additionally, it seems that people truly love making others happy through their cosplay. It’s a great outlet for exercising creativity and bonding with other members of the community. I’d love to hear more responses; if you cosplay – why do you do it?

Until next month!
Kit Cosplay is a co-founder of the Comic Book Charcters For Causes fundraising and charity cosplay group. Whether you are interested in cosplay as a spectator, just starting out, or have been doing it for years, Kit hopes that her monthly column entertains or inspires you. Reach out to Kit Cosplay on Facebook, Twitter, or shoot her an email – She’d love to chat with you!