comics reviews

Welcome to the first episode of Comics Squared! It’s my new podcast about comics, movies, TV, news, and whatever else that pops into mind. This week, while perpetually ill and braving the horrors of my first week back to school, me and my young ward Blaine talk about our favorite recent releases, as well as our pulls for the week. We also discuss the news (and general confusion) surrounding Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars event, as well as the buzz about the possible X-Files reboot. So sit back, relax, and pop open a cold one, because it’s time to talk about some nerdy business. (You may want to send the kids to bed, though, because this show is intended for grown-ups.)

Here’s to crime!

Quid Pro Quo - Constantine blog

(SPOILER WARNING: The following is an in depth critical analysis. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you may want to before reading this review)

At long last, we finally get to know what’s the deal with Chas’ powers. And it’s good.

Chas has always been a very heroic character. Certainly compared to John Constantine, whose morals are questionable at best. So when it’s revealed that Chas essentially gained his powers through an act of self sacrifice, I couldn’t help but smile a little. I’ve watched enough of this series now to get a good handle on this character and this seems exactly like the kind of thing he’d do.

So it turns out Chas isn’t immortal after all. His body contains 48 souls. His soul and the souls of those 47 people who died in the club fire. So every time his body dies, one of his souls is sent to the afterlife and the others revive him. There’s a nice touch of irony there. Chas tried to save 47 lives, but instead those 47 lives saved him.

It also explains why Chas follows Constantine around. He owes Constantine a life debt, and feels he has to make sure those 47 people didn’t die in vain. This, understandably, has had a negative effect on his family life. Unlike Anne Marie, whose constant moaning made me want to hit her on the head with her crucifix by the end, Renee does have a point when it comes to Chas. Yes it’s great that Chas is doing all this stuff and has managed to save countless lives. Who wouldn’t be proud of that? But it has gotten to the point where he is starting to neglect his own family. Renee doesn’t want a hero. She wants a husband and a father to her child who will be there when they need them most.

Both Charles Halford and Amanda Clayton take what the script has given them and run with it, selling every nuance and detail with a considerable impact. You really do believe that they are a couple going through hard times and still, to some degree, love each other. Hopefully we’ll see them slowly mend their relationship in future seasons (right NBC?). Charles Halford in particular really gives it his all, giving an incredibly moving performance. I hope he gets more of a chance to show off his acting prowess in the future.

Now we come to Constantine himself and, like in A Feast of Friends, he really doesn’t come out of this looking good. Chas is sad that his wife wants to leave him and wants Constantine to reverse the spell. John says he can’t. Now any reasonable person would let Chas get back to his family and leave him in peace, but not John. He sees Chas as a valuable asset and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let him go without a fight. So he takes advantage of Chas, like he did with Gary Lester. Sure he gives the illusion of choice, but that’s not really the case. He makes fighting evil sound so enticing doesn’t he? And that’s the point. He’s preying on Chas’ need to be heroic to achieve his own end.

And if that’s not enough, we see him do something disturbingly similar with Zed at the end. You don’t honestly think he saved Zed’s life because he cares about her, do you? Like with Chas, he sees her as an asset. A tool that can be exploited for his own use. She’s a real bitter (bit of everything) who is now displaying the potential ability to become a medium. So when it’s revealed that Zed has communicated with John’s deceased mother, to him his investment has paid off. Did you see that smile at the end? That right there is the smile of a fox who has just spotted his gingerbread man.

John Constantine has got to be one of the most interesting and complex characters I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s a perfect blend of writing and acting. Matt Ryan is, unsurprisingly, stellar in the role. He hits all the dramatic moments without breaking a sweat and is also killingly funny. I particularly like the scene where he picks up the cattle prod; “What? I’ve always wanted one.”

In fact there are loads of good moments in this. John casting a spell whilst drunk, Chas hitting the guy with the shotgun, the scene where they discover the invisible train yard and, of course:

"I know this sounds crazy, but I had to help John to slay the Monkey King."

That is officially the greatest line I’ve ever heard. I want that on T-shirt!

This episode is great in terms of character. But what about story?

Oh dear.

It’s slightly concerning when you don’t care that nearly everyone in Brooklyn has fallen into a coma. And this is because we never really see the effect of it. They just tell us that New York has become a health hazard without showing us. Also, what was all that bollocks about separating a soul from the body being the holy grail of black magic? Didn’t that guy manage to do that in Rage of Caliban? And if all those souls can make Felix Faust that powerful, why can’t Chas do all that stuff too? 

Ah yes. Lets talk about Felix Faust. What a disappointment! This really should have been the equivalent of Edmund from King Lear or Loki from the Thor movies; this pathetic little wannabe who is sick to death of playing second banana to all these mages and wants some recognition for his own abilities. Here he’s just incredibly bland and forgettable. He’s so underdeveloped and under utilised that he barely makes an impact. I would have been fine with it if I knew he was coming back, except they kill him off at the end. What a waste!

Same goes for the invisible demon. Come on! An INVISIBLE demon! Think of the possibilities! This should have been a great opportunity for some real horror. Instead it was about as frightening as Casper the Friendly Ghost. Plus who’d of thought you could beat a demon with a cattle prod. The things you learn, right kids?

Quid Pro Quo isn’t perfect, but what it does with the main characters more than makes up for the lacklustre narrative. Overall, a winner.


How Did Book 3 CHANGE Korra? - A Thought Comic

You can comment via this link:

(If you have an argument to make against anything I say in this comic, you should probably check out the comments. I’ve probably already responded to and provided a counterargument against one like it).

How to Tell If You Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal

We dedicate this fun review to our ailurophiles! If you are a true ailurophile, we don’t have to worry about defining this awesomely beautiful word for you. Nevertheless, to answer your question, yes, there is a terrifyingly funny book for some of the most interesting people on the internet, cat lovers! Warning, this is not your adorable, traditional kitty book! Matthew Inman. the author of the hilarious webcomic site, The Oatmeal, has a PSA announcement for all cat owners. Listen to me carefully. Your cat, your neighbor’s cat, your best friend’s cat, whosever’s cat is plotting to kill you. Don’t let their fuzzy cute faces and irresistible whiskers deceit you. Book Blogger, Kathe has some wise reminds for us: 

"Are You Dead Yet? Then your cat is plotting to kill you."

So let’s get this straight: all those precious moments you and your cat have shared are a betrayal. Have you ever found your cat mindlessly staring at you when you wake up in the morning? We know you have. We also know they like to sit on your face or jump on you unexpectedly. No they don’t want to snuggle, your cat is, in fact, attempting to smother you and crush your feeble, human organs. The point is cats do whatever the flying f**k they want. Why do they do this? The answer is simple. Because cats are better than you. If you want to take action and protection like us, we suggest you open this book ASAP for more ways to investigate your cat’s shady behavior, before we find strange fleshy material hidden in your cat’s litter box! And we make no apologies for our lame or morbid jokes, cat people are some of the most intelligent and interesting creatures online, we assure you they “get” us.

Get the book here!

Get the FREE Amazon Kindle app to read on most devices.

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It’s easy for me to get caught up in life’s day-to-day stresses that I end up missing all of the good stuff that happens, and so it seemed worth reflecting on what 2013 meant to me.  A little late to the party, but what the hell!

I’m still trying to figure out what I want and need 2014 to be, but some big takeaways:  more sleep, more art for me and not for the churning masses, more time spent in isolated cabins in the woods.  Less stress.

In the meantime, THANK YOU GUYS.  Thanks for sticking around.  Happy New Year. :)



Fiction Week!

Dicebox (Review)

by Jenn Manley Lee

Dicebox is different.

Now, a lot of people say that about a lot of things, but in this case, I swear to you I haven’t read anything I can say is like Dicebox. Sure, it’s definitely a Space Opera. It’s definitely a comic. But it reads like your life.

I picked up a print copy of Dicebox Book 1: Wander, about a year ago, and I must admit it was on a lark. It’s available online as well. And I have to recommend it; the book is a fat 314-page graphic novel and is quite high quality. The art is lovely, the text is readable and the story…well. The story is interesting in an unusual way.

Although the story’s setting is  fascinating exercise in world-building, the plot revolves entirely around the characters and their relationships, their daily activities, and their hopes and fears in an almost claustrophobic way. It’s been called “slice-of-life” in a space opera setting, and I’d have to agree with that on one level, but at times it devolves into feeling like you’re sitting with a group of people who love to gossip about their mutual friends that you’ve never met. But if you can keep up with the social environment and the conversational storytelling style, you can and will get caught up in a very detailed world and the lives of Molly Robbins, a migrant factory worker, and her partner, Griffin Stoyka, who just can’t seem to outrun her past or her own penchant for drama.

The interpersonal world of Dicebox has room for all kinds of people, relationships, genders, races, cultures, and dynamics. In some ways the social complexity can overshadow the characters themselves, but there is so much to explore that re-reading is extremely rewarding. There is also a lot of sex and spaceships, which is also nice. There’s tongue-in-cheek (AHEM) humor, smartassery, narrow escapes, snide comments, and lots of snark, bawdy jokes, and the facial expressions alone make Dicebox worth it for me.

This comic entitled “A Concise Summary” by Erika Moen is a fairly accurate  description of what you’ll be getting yourself into with Dicebox.

Dicebox official site

Jenn Manley Lee official site

[These ‘New 52’ reboots of Catwoman and Starfire aren’t sexually liberated female characters]. They’re how dudes want to imagine those women would be. This is not about these women wanting things; it’s about men wanting to see them do things, and that takes something that really should be empowering — the idea that women can own their sexuality — and transforms it into yet another male fantasy. It takes away the actual power of the women and turns their ‘sexual liberation’ into just another way for dudes to get off.
Deadpool annual #2 review

Warning: Spoilers ahead (and Spideypool)

Basic summary of the comic:

DeadPool annual #2, aka Deadpool helps out his boyfriend Spider-man by dressing up like him then afterwards taking him out for a hot dog date on a rooftop, was a very fun comic read especially for those in the Spideypool fandom. It begins with a very paranoid Spidey fighting against Deadpool on a rooftop where he had apparently attempted to take a nap at. He has had little sleep and for the past few days he has been attacked by random civilians who would disappear moments after attacking him. Due to his paranoia, he has trouble believing that he is actually fighting the real Deadpool and asks him to prove that he is the real thing.

In order to prove he is actually Deadpool, he shoots himself in the heart to prove that he has his healing factor.

 Once Spidey is certain that Deadpool is not a threat to him, he leaves to try to be alone. But on his way out of the building he catches a glimpse of what may have been a woman shapeshifting from the chameleon and he attacks her

Deadpool, knowing Spider-mans reputation and morals against hurting innocent people, steps in and reasons with him. He sincerely cares about helping Spidey and understands how it is his paranoia that is affecting his actions. 

Shortly after, Spider-man is attacked again and this time he is drugged, which causes him to loose consciousness. Deadpool, being a strong admirer of the web slinging hero, made sure to guard his identity from the public

He comes to the conclusion that he had to be the one to stop the Chameleon for Spider-man’s sake and the only way to do this is by dressing up like him. Being respectful of the others secret identity, he shields his own eyes while unmasking him.

Deapool then spends a majority of the comic pretending to be Spider-man. He goes on patrol, interacts with civilians, stops a purse theif, and defeats a villain called “The Massster”

He is then reminded why he was pretending to be Spider-man in the first place, when the Chameleon catches him off guard and attacks him using a tranquilizer. 

The real spider-man, now awake from his little nap and recharged, swings in wearing Deadpools costume and that is when the Chameleon figures out about the costume change. He then shape shifts to look like Deadpool also and leaves Wade to figure out which Deadpool is actually Spider-man.

In the end, the City of Townsville is safe! (oh wait wrong comic haha) 

Spider-man and Deadpool now have an established friendship and Spidey thanks Deadpool for helping him out.

And now for my personal review:

I thought the comic was fun overall. The art style was very expressive especially with the facial expressions with the masks on. I would have liked to see more actual interaction between Spider-man and Deadpool, but Spidey was passed out in a closet for half of the comic.

On thing I noticed right away was Deadpools facial structure changing from the beginning of the issue to his last mask-less  appearance. When he is changing, his face looks healthy (in a relative sense of the word). His nose and cheeks are full, there is a presence of eyelids, and there isn’t too much bone structure popping through. 

But in the last page, he looks drastically different in appearance. The cartilage on his nose and the skin on his lips and eyelids seem to have receded. He also lost a lot of muscle tissue on his face, and his cheek bones are extreamly visible. 

At first I wasn’t too fond of the style change from one part of the comic to the next. Usually I see artists stick with one version of mask-less Deadpool throughout the entire comic they work on, but then I realized that this is actually a very important detail. Wades healing factor is always in a constant battle with his still present cancer and at some points, his cancer will overpower the healing factor. Thats why his skin always changes. When he was first in the closet with Spidey, his cancer was not affecting him as strongly, which is why he had a more pleasant appearance. By the end, he was going through some normal side effects of his condition. I was just shocked that he would unmask himself in front of Spidey when he is in this condition, but his view on his self image fluctuates just as much as his physical appearance does. 

Another physical feature I wanted to point out is Deadpools body structure while wearing the Spider-man outfit. It is canon that Deadpool is bigger and more muscular that Spidey, but when he was in Spider-mans outfit, he seemed to have slimmed down and shrunk a bit. I mean, I know red usually makes you look larger, but I don’t think the blue of Spidey’s outfit would make him look that much slimmer…

And there is also the little Deadpool mask boner on the back of his head while he is Spider-man but this eventually disappears after a few panels but I’m not going to get too nit picky on that one.

And now from a Spideypool fan point of view!

If you are a fan of this crazy ship, you will love this issue. There are a lot of elements from Spideypool fan fiction that are present in this one comic. (I am pretty sure the writers read more than that one Spideypool fic and got ideas from them)

1. Deadpool respected Spider-mans privacy enough to keep his identity a secret from the public and from HIMSELF

2. Deadpool throws in many comments, showing his admiration towards the other hero

3. Spider-man states that Deadpool is the only one he could trust in his current situation (WOW! thats huge!)

4. They actually get along in this comic and call each other friends 


6. They both prove that they know each other well enough to distinguish each other from clones

7. Role reversal!? Deadpool is the sane one this time and Spidey is the one loosing it

8. Deadpool is a protective boyfriend

9. Wearing each others costumes is always adorable


(((This is my first time attempting to write a review so sorry if it was a bit of a mess. Let me know what you think, how you liked the comic and if you fangirled over the Spideypool parts like I did hahaha. )))