Trailer: STUMPTOWN (ABC)

Announced during the TV upfronts last week, ABC’s Stumptown is based on the graphic novels series of the same name. The series stars Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Marvel’s cinematic universe). There are a couple of other crime/cop shows that were announced, but this is definitely one of the more interesting, to me. Looking forward to watching it. Here’s the network’s synopsis:

Based on the “Stumptown” graphic novel series, follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) as a strong, assertive, and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt, and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great P.I., but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. Continue reading

On My Growing Frustration with Marvel & DC Comics…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few days. I’m not really sure what this post is supposed to achieve, either. But, I thought I’d write it down. Mostly, I think, it indicates a shift in how I’m going to read and review comics.

Since I started reading comics again, in September 2011 with the launch of DC’s New 52 reboot, I have slowly started to become more and more frustrated with the near-endless cross-over events. Sure, this is not a new complaint from comics readers, and certainly it won’t do anything to change things. But, it will change things for me.

I understand the business rationale for cross-over Events: it encourages people to try new series, which in turn could lead to consistent interest in previously-unread series. Or, at the very least, a short-term up-tick in sales that isn’t bad for the publisher, either.

For me, though, it is annoying. I’ve always approached Marvel’s titles with eyebrow firmly raised, because it’s a given that any title will be involved in an Event at least twice a year – and, in 2012-13, it seems like the rate of Events is spiraling so far out of control that the only conclusion is that Marvel’s brain-trust (or, more likely, executives) have zero imagination, and can’t conceive of any title surviving/succeeding on its own. Which is too much cynicism for creativity and long-term success, in my opinion. “Avengers vs. X-Men”, “Age of Ultron”, “Infinity”, and even in the Ultimate Comics line, we had “Divided We Stand/United We Fall” and the Ultimate Comics series will be brought to an end with the “Cataclysm” Event.

Let’s take a look at DC: First, there was the Bat-family “Night of the Owls” Event, which had one tie-in issue per series (more or less). Then there was the larger “Death of the Family” Event, which was pretty good (but a little flat, by the end), and quite expensive for anyone who wanted the whole picture/story. Now, Batman will also have the “Year Zero” event, which will include 10 tie-in issues from other series. Sigh. There was the “Throne of Atlantis” Event, which was relatively short, and only connected two titles together (Aquaman and Justice League). There is the just-completed “Trinity War” Event, tying together Justice League, Pandora, Justice League Dark, Phantom Stranger and Constantine. Now, we have “Forever Evil: Blight” (18 issues, total), which is a cross-over between Constantine, Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and Justice League Dark. In addition to this, there was the early, tedious daemonite cross-over mess that tied together too many series early on in the New 52’s history. Green Lantern series had the Rise of the Third Army and immediately-following Wrath of the First Lantern.

Valiant Comics have had at least two cross-over events, too. Which is rather excessive for a line that has only been going (after a renewal) for little over a year. And all of the Events mentioned in this post don’t account for all of the ones that have been unveiled, or are pending.

This endless crossing over, mixing is just too much. For me, anyway. So, I’m going to stick to a very limited number of New 52 titles, and also Ultimate Comics series, some older Marvel series (mostly Captain America-related), and explore more offerings from other publishers. Perhaps the only exception will be Vertigo Comics (the “mature” imprint of DC Comics), which has some truly excellent series – many of which are already complete, which makes it easier to plan purchases and reading.*

It’s just too expensive to get the whole picture with the Big Two. Marvel have been ridiculous for a long time. DC, after pulling off a great re-boot, seem to have caught the Cross Over Bug a little too hard, which has just killed my enthusiasm to fork over all that money. Getting the whole story is very important to me. As, I’m sure, it is for a lot of reading junkies. If you’re going to pursue a strategy that whiffs of gouging… Count me out. I have rent and food to pay for (which I can barely manage as it is).

So, yeah. I’m not really sure if this post really achieves anything. But there we go.

* That being said, even Vertigo are going to be running a Cross Over: Fables and Unwritten… It’ll hopefully be short, though, and does benefit from being comprised of two of my favourite comics.

The Sixth Gun, Vol.3 – “Bound” & Vol.4 – “A Town Call Penance” (Oni Press)

SixthGun-Vol.3&4

Volume Three. Still awesome.

Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Brian Hurtt (#12-13, 15-17) & Tyler Crook (#14, #23) | Colors: Bill Crabtree

Traveling by secret railroad, Becky and Drake accompany an order of mysterious monks on a quest to bury General Hume’s body on holy ground. But malevolent forces spurred by a sinister necromancer stage a terrifying attack on the train. Drake vanishes without a trace. Alone, Becky continues her journey to a secluded mountain fortress where she discovers how deeply her fate is entwined with that of The Sixth Gun. Meanwhile, Gord revisits a haunted mansion from his past hoping to discover a means to destroy the Six, but the ghosts he stirs have no intention of letting his quest continue.

Vol.3 Collects: The Sixth Gun #12-17
Vol.4 Collects: The Sixth Gun #18-23

Ah, The Sixth Gun. Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite comics series. It blends Wild Western adventure with some supernatural shenanigans. There’s action, humour, spooky stuff, and a plot that will hook you from the very start. I loved both of these books.

In “Bound”, Drake, Becky and the fellas from the Sword of Abraham are taking the Six and the body of the dead evil general, via train… somewhere safer. Naturally, nothing can go smoothly, as a necromancer raises an undead posse to retrieve the guns and the body of Evil General Hume (he’s someone you just have to always include the “Evil” when you mention him…). We’re introduced to Asher Cobb – a big, fuck-off mummy. Sent by the same necromancer to retrieve the evil body, while the surprisingly-spritely undead posse take care of the living. However, Cobb has a history with Drake… We get his story in #14 – a really cool extra.

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The story then moves forward a few days, as Gord heads home to collect the books on the Six from his former owner, who was in league with the Evil General. This was a nice diversion, and added a lot more to the whole spooky-supernatural side of the story. Not that the, you know, mummies, undead and magic guns weren’t already pretty obviously in the Weird Stuff arena…

With Drake missing, Becky is taken to the Sword of Abraham’s keep, and told she can never leave. But, an old friend is at hand to help, and she learns more of the power of the Sixth Gun.

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In “A Town Called Penance”, we re-join Drake after his short-lived disappearance from the train assault. He’s been captured by the Knights of Solomon, who he joined after the war – they are also the enemies of the Sword of Abraham, before attempting (unsuccessfully) to prevent her from going to Drake’s aid. The Knights of Solomon want Drake back working with them. As well as the Six, of course. Becky comes to rescue him, but there’s something not right with the town called Penance…

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As with the previous two books, I zipped through these two books, unable to put them down. The story is gripping, fast-paced, and very well written. And the artwork is great, too – atmospheric, consistent and just all-round excellent. I particularly loved the “silent” chapter – Becky’s near an explosion, and bursts her eardrums. Then she goes on a bit of a rampage through the underground lair of the Knights of Solomon. She’s joined by Drake. They kill a LOT of people…

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There is a really interesting revelation at the end of chapter five in this second book. It bodes very well for the future, so I will definitely be coming back for more of this series. Final chapter of Volume 4 features Kirby Hale, who we first briefly met in Volume 2, when he seduced Becky. We’re caught up on his story, and there’s a really nice parallel between his new trajectory and Drake’s in issue #1. A nice bit of writing, I thought.

Both of these books expand and build on the series superbly. We get more character development and also more world-building. I can’t recommend The Sixth Gun highly enough. Love this series. An absolute must read series for fans of comics, Westerns, and speculative/genre fiction of all stripes. Superb.

Sixth Gun, Vol.2 – “Crossroads” (Oni Press)

SixthGun-Vol.02Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Brian Hurtt | Colors: Bill Crabtree

In the aftermath of the tragic battle of the Maw, Drake and company hide in the sprawling city of New Orleans. But as they plot their next move, they find themselves embroiled in another harrowing adventure. Unexpected threats, new enemies, and a host of strange spirits are already aligning against them.

Collects: Sixth Gun #7-11

This is just a really quick review – it’s actually been a while since I read this (and have since blitzed through the next two), but I wanted to mention it on the blog. The Sixth Gun is one of my favourite series, hands down. This makes it very tricky to review. So much of my enjoyment comes from the surprises and unexpected directions the story takes, as well as the excellent dialogue, plotting and artwork. Needless to say, if you like supernatural tales in a Wild West and 19th-Century American setting, then The Sixth Gun is a must-read.

“Crossroads” gives us an expansion on the already-awesome supernatural elements introduced in Volume 1 – this time, we get some voodoo and Southern weirdness, which I always like to read about. There are swamps and strange Haitian-inspired beasties, as Drake attempts to find a way to rid himself of the pistols (he has collected a four of them, from the cold, dead hands of their previous owners). Adding to Drake’s impatience (and Becky’s, as she owns one of the Six as well), evil forces will forever be drawn to the Six, and with only the chance of passing them on from a dead (wo)man’s hand, things are going to get very dangerous for them.

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We meet a new face, a potentially a recurring character: a smooth-talker who Becky maybe takes a shine to. He has an ulterior motive, however, and he quickly becomes involved in the hunt for the Six.

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I really love that Bunn & Co. are deepening and expanding the series mythology. The Sixth Gun is a great series, and “Crossroads” does exactly what a second volume is meant to do: it builds very nicely on what has come before, and lays down the foundation for yet more action and dark adventure to come.

Excellent and highly recommended.

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