Infinity Gauntlet Tug of War 2013

I wanted to create a sketch with the following criteria:

  1. To include my favorite Marvel characters
  2. To use “young” versions of these characters
  3. To include the Infinity Gauntlet (as suggested by @surface here)
  4. To be set in a “Cosmic” environment (obviously this “battle” takes place in the Blue Area of the Moon otherwise Carol would be in full space garb)
  5. To use Sketchbook Pro on my Surface Pro
  6. To be an “original idea” - something without a frame of reference for guidance - to challenge my nascent drawing skills
  7. To be something I could be proud of and possibly even print out to hang in my son’s room

I feel that I have met these criteria. So, I decided to share it with the world. :)

What do you think?


Follow @thanosrules on Twitter, listen to the Stacks of Comics Podcast (@stacksofcomics) and be amused by Terrible Sketch Tuesdays (@SketchTerribly)!

Scarlet Spider #3

Web-slinger extraordinaire, Kaine is still learning about his new city of Houston, TX… besides the fact that it is hot, humid and wrought with crime - it is spread out over vast areas, not all of which have towering anchors for his transportation needs. The depiction of this and the simple fact that it was brought up at all, made me feel that the creative team really did their homework. It was a really easy and effective way to add humor to a story full of drama and action…

Read More at thanosrules

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The Shade #9 - #12 (of 12)


James does not disappoint.

Each issue in this maxi-series is a vital part of the whole. If you have not picked it up from the start, I strongly recommend doing so. I also strongly recommend reading the entire series (or at least skimming) over again, because you will pick up on things you missed the first time around.

This is going to make for one great collected piece (at least I hope that is the plan). It also ends with nice ties to James’ previous work on The Shade…which shows great dedication, planning and a commitment to excellence on his part.

While this is the first (and final) set reviews of The Shade for #trqr, I was pretty religious about reviewing it up until Issue 9 (see Review Gallery here). No fault to the series, I was reading it right along, I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to consistent reviewing - and this book is “main course” kind of stuff, not just fluff and candy like so many other books. Reading, consuming, digesting this kind of story takes well deserved time and attention.

Attention that I have now decided to mandate.

So, on to brief reviews of each issue… though I have to say, pick each of the issues up - they are WELL WORTH IT, and if you can, pick up the Variant Covers as I have - it makes for a wonderful collection of 24 beautiful and brilliant books.

Issue #9 - Of London Now and Egypt Then

A Greater Good - And now for the meat of this 12-part maxi-series. Up until now, it has all been about tracking clues to the ends of the earth - this issue starts to unveil the background of why the globetrotting began in the first place.

Watch closely as this book sets up a foundation for the next three and final issues - there were even a couple things I didn’t catch until I re-read the series.

The art is great. It perfectly depicts the action and violence. I will never get tired of seeing The Shade leverage Shadow Matter, with the skill of a surgeon, to dismember his opposition. And the way it is portrayed here, is fantastic - one panel, all is calm, next panel “shade” fills the room and body parts hit the floor. Excellent.

While at times these issues have quite a bit of dialog (which some people feel slows the story down - no complaints here BTW), this one has enough action, violence and intrigue to satisfy even the pickiest reader. It also leaves you with a great cliffhanger - one of the best since Issue #1.

Issue #10 - Shadow Puppets

Hubris - So this is your standard issue where the protagonist is held against his will and the antagonist tells him about all the great plans they have because soon it will no longer matter… or is it?

I loved the fact that James started the entire issue out with an explanation of how the “Gods” “fell” and happened to be under the control of The Shade's villainous kin and company (Dudley and Miles St. Aubrey) - all from their POV, mind you. They may have well as been speaking of their very own undoing. Excellent.

These are the kind of subtle points that make James’ writing so enjoyable.

The art is great, once again, highlighting the “light” and “dark”, depending which character has focus in the panel. It is just wonderful. The Shadow Matter in this issue is exceptionally well done, as at times it is being limited by an outside force, which is very well illustrated.

Everyone against The Shade feels they know exactly what is going on, that they are in control, and that they have the power. Even the reader is taken along on this ride - continually left with that familiar "How will The Shade get himself out of this one?“ feeling. When, in fact, the only one who really has any semblance of control is our favorite Master of Darkness - that is until everything erupts and his plans have to change slightly…

Issue #11 - The Bad Librarians

And That Was That - It was an amazing perspective to have on the "spectacle” - As London is burning, being destroyed by the “Egyptian” Monoliths, all the heroes of the city attempt to fight and save the innocent people caught in the grasp of its destruction - and then there is The Shade… watching, waiting, calculating what it is going to take to end the madness. Knowing full well he is the only solution to the problem sprung by his kin.

If he thought he had to muster all of his power in the days leading up to this battle, he would have to multiply that immeasurably now. The scale of this foe is almost too big to imagine. All this, and he quips, “Tsk. I hate this sort of nonsense.” - Excellent. I just love his attitude. And I love his forethought and planning - if you were watching closely in Issue #9, you may catch how he was able to gain an edge in this fight…

The biggest problem I have with this issue, is not with the story or the art - it is with the VERY DISRUPTIVE advertisements. Every page turn there is another advertisement  ARGH. This is one of the quintessential battle of the maxi-series and it is riddled with unexpected sneaker solicits.

That is not why this issue didn’t receive a perfect rating from me, though. It was how the resolution of the battle and the ensuing conclusion to the main story line ended - rather abruptly, almost hastened? I was not expecting it.

“And that was that?”

“Yes. Can you believe it?”

No, not really, but then again, I am not sure what I would have expected, or liked more. Something this big, cosmic even, is extremely difficult to portray in words and in illustration.

All in all, in the end, reflecting back, it was a fantastic story, great battle, great use of and execution of forethought, everything - I especially loved how quaint the origin story of the “Egyptian” Monoliths was - a nice twist, really.

The last page ends nearly a year of storytelling for The Shade, and sets up his final story for the maxi-series, his origin. Now this, this is what we have been waiting for!

Issue #12 - Times Past: 1833, Family Ties Part 1

More Hell Than Haven - This series ends, as it began, in the past. This issue takes us to the first part of “Family Ties”, the explanation of The Shade, before he was The Shade - his hastened life as Richard Swift.

We know something horrible had to happen for him to become the Master of Darkness. We just didn’t know what it was. This is the story we have all been waiting for, especially if you listened to the Comic Vine Podcasts where James would talk about the book and tease this very fact.

So, here we are, 1838. We see a very handsome young man, his business, his family, his friends… it is an all too normal story, until one day the drama begins.

I want to take a moment to HONOR the art. It is FANTASTIC. It was beautiful in a way that I didn’t realize was possible. It is detailed, complex, and really makes you feel like you are there, with the characters, nearly 200 years ago. The illustration of people is different from all the other issues in this series - more realistic. It works perfectly, as the reader needs to know exactly what The Shade left behind - a beautiful family, and an especially beautiful wife.

I loved the inclusion of historic figures, namely Charles Dickens. I thought working him in as a friend, arguing about stories, plots, characters, etc. was a really nice touch.

The antagonist of this part of the story is kept hidden until the end. I certainly didn’t expect to see what I saw in the final reveal. It was very well done.

Though I was sad to see this series end, I was very pleased with how it was tied to James’ other Shade work. Forethought and planning is something that is shared between these two fine men.

The final page is as somber as it is perfect. We see an end of a story, told from the very beginning by both The Shade and James alike. The story, perfectly packaged and delivered, as a tale of prevailing heroism, wrought with regret, despair and human frailty.

Congratulations and Thanks, James. It was fantastic to share this journey with you and your many thousands of fans!


I hope you enJOY this maxi-series as much as I have. If you did, be sure to pick up James’ other work on The Shade and of course, Starman (which has just started to be re-released as an Omnibus in TBP format!)


For my Comic Vine Reviews of the entire maxi-series, click here!

For my Outer Realm Comics Reviews of the entire maxi-series, click here!

Follow @thanosrules on Twitter for more thanosrules Quick Reviews (#trqr) and listen to Stacks of Comics (@stacksofcomics) for all (okay, some of) your Comic Podcast needs!

Adventure Time #2

The terrorizing tale of The Lich continues! Much of Ooo and many of your beloved characters are “in the bag” - some adjust quite nicely, others not so much. Finn and Jake are restless, as expected - still trying to find a way out of the bag and a clever way to save the day. They try in all directions, until they find one that looks very promising… but with their next move be their last? We are left with a cliffhanger of unexpected danger horror and adventure! Oh, and there was a picnic, thanks to Princess Desert.…

Read More at thanosrules

The Real Comic Guys

Old Man Logan (TPB)

I realize I arrived really late to the game, but wow. This is an amazing read. If you like Wolverine, Hawkeye, and Mad Max, you will love this collection of Wolverine stories. The creative team cannot be beat and is guaranteed to wow and amaze you. As you would expect from this team, it is gritty and full of no-holds-barred action/violence…

Read More at thanosrules


Since I work from home, I decided to surround myself with the things that inspire me most… Okay, it is just an excuse and justification to display my collection. ;)

Oh, and if you are wondering, this space doubles as “Studio Stacks” - where half of @stacksofcomics is recorded. :D

UPDATE (09/11/2012) - I added two new photos after some rearranging and adding a few pieces of original art!


Check out my Review of Christopher Yost’s and Eric Pearson’s Marvel Avengers Prelude #4 (of 4)!

My Reviews for this completed mini-series:

Chew #24

Al Bundy makes a cameo appearance in this, the fourth part of the current CHEW arc, “Major League Chew”. Okay, so it isn’t actually a cameo, but he is one of the main background subtleties that makes this series great. In fact, THIS is why the series is so fantastic. For me anyway. This level of detail, combined with the already scrumptious stories being told by my favorite creative team, make it the best ongoing series I am reading today. Maybe ever. I am constantly blown away by the genius that goes into each and every panel, on each and every page…

Read More at thanosrules

The Real Comic Guys

FF #14

Things finally came together for me on this issue. While I enjoyed the previous issues, I didn’t quite fully embrace all the various plot streams until this part of the arc. It was one simple drawing, one simple explanation in the book that did it for me - the flashback where Val and Nathaniel work on the “end of the world timing issue” together…

Read More at thanosrules

The Real Comic Guys