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Book Review: Blade of the Samurai

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Book Review: Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Review by: Prof. Jenn

 

How good a combination is a ninja-detective, seriously? What a perfect set of skills to be able to solve a murder in 16th-century Japan. Blade of the Samurai is a sequel to Claws of the Cat, which are historical thrillers starring Hiro, our shinobi protagonist, and his partner in solving crime, Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. With these two intellects at the helm of any investigation, no murderer will stay safe for long. Admittedly I haven’t read the first in this series, so I can’t tell you how the characters have evolved in this sequel, but I can tell you if this is your first foray into the investigations of these two, you will have no problem getting to know our characters, their situations, and setting immediately.

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An official in the shogunate has been murdered, and a whiff of a plot to assassinate the shogun himself is in the air as Hiro and Mateo are conscripted to investigate the murder before Oda comes to invade Kyoto. The inclusion of real historical figures (Nobunaga Oda, Hattori Hanzo, etc.) and detailed descriptions of the 16th century Japanese setting plunges us right into the setting as good historical fiction does. However, the quick, clipped pace, the tension begun right as the story begins, and the short chapters make this also a well-crafted whodunit. This book is difficult to put down, and is a quick, exciting read. It’s also a fun addition to have the cultural differences pop up between Father Mateo and his Japanese surroundings (especially noble and samurai encounters, normal Western gestures and thoughts being offensive to the Japanese characters). The outcome of the mystery is complex and not cookie-cutter easy, and the end leaves us with many open ends ready for another sequel (Flask of the Drunken Master, out in 2015).

Bottom Line: Blade of the Samurai is highly recommended.

 

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Comic Review: Dark Engine

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Dark Engine by Ryan Burton and John Bivens is a new comic that plenty of my friends have been waiting on, and after reading it, I’m reasonably certain that no one has been or will be disappointed. First of all, the cover art is really nifty, portraying the focus of the comic, a girl who looks fierce and incredibly intimidating with a giant sword. I’m certainly not an artist, but I really like the style of art being shown in this comic. It’s very otherworldly, and definitely helps to transport you into the chaos within the story.

From the beginning, this comic throws you into a world that is unlike anything that we are used to. There are a surplus of creatures that somehow fall between prehistoric and alien in appearance. We meet the girl from the cover rather quickly. As expected, she quickly starts slaughtering things, presumably because she’s a total badass. Directly following this, we start to see some other new characters talking about the girl, who we now learn is called: Sym. There is talk of the magic and sacrifice used to create her, and we are informed that she has been made to kill some enemy.

It’s divulged that she was fitted with some sort of engine (I’m assuming a Dark Engine, but that could just be me being presumptuous) by one of the characters. This character seems haunted by this engine, which we find out is being used to send Sym back in time in order for her to kill this enemy before they could ruin the world in the way that they did (which is only being expressed through the art at the moment). We learn that the engine is sending Sym into various periods of time until it can somehow right itself, and we’re given a glimpse into the possibility that the engine might actually think for itself.

The comic ends with plenty of mystery after a character nonchalantly states that Sym will likely kill anything she comes in contact with across these time periods (and we actually see her brutally slaying something). Already, I want to know more about how Sym and how she was created. I’m definitely interested in learning about the inner workings of this engine, and what it is capable of. I also want to know exactly who this enemy is and what he used to destroy the world. Really, I just want to know more about everything, and I’m really hoping that the next one comes with a little insight into this interesting world.

So, uh, read this. It’s a good one.

 

Daliya Risik

@TasteTheChaos

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Let’s Talk About Comics, Consent, and THAT issue of Captain America

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Originally posted via The Carnival of The Random the author’s personal tumblr. Opinions contained within are the viewpoint of the author and may not represent those of other members of NiB staff. 

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We’re going to talk about this now. My original response, not to Cap #22, but to the response to the response to Cap #22, is HERE and CBR’s article with links from a variety of viewpoints, is HERE.

I’m going to preface this by saying, (as it says in my About section) I’m a Marvel gal for life. Have been since I was a wee-me getting grubby fingerprints on my comics and grubby newsprint on my face after that. Ah, the days of literal pulp.

(Image description: Panel from Captain America #22 featuring Jet Zola, a young white woman in a black dress that is several bands covering her breasts, part of her abdomen, and groin/upper thighs sitting on a sofa with Sam Wilson aka the Falcon, in a black shirt/grey trousers, they are drinking wine and there is a background image that indicates Miles Davis music overlays the scene.)

Before ANYONE starts yelling, read what I have to say because it’s not going to be what you think.

TW: discussion of definition of rape, rape culture.

1. I don’t particularly like Rick Remender. I think he’s hostile to audience readings and assumes word of god means anything. It doesn’t. I don’t particularly dislike him in general, either. I think it’d be awesome if he (among others) learned to say, “Help me understand, because I’m not seeing it and you obviously feel strongly,” rather than jumping to rejecting the premise.

2. I don’t, and never have past reading the text, think that Jet was in any way coerced, assaulted, raped, or that her age was in question but I do get where other people might feel like it was shoe-horned in and I don’t judge them for that read.

3. I have never thought firing Remender was a good way to solve the problem of consent or hypersexualizing in comics. It’s a BIGGER problem than one person. Rape culture is as pervasive as air, we have to deal with that.

4. I view his remarks (and those of his supporters who used the same language,) of the questioning and crit regarding this scene as, “Libellous,” usually with something insulting tacked on, as not only overkill but the word choice of people who don’t understand what those words mean or are sending a message that dissent will not be tolerated. This is NOT productive, from a PR standpoint. Really.

Nobody accused Rick Remender of statutory rape, and people weren’t making things up. They just had a different point of view. One that might have lead to a spectacular leap forward in comics’ portrayal of consent if people would have listened.

So, let’s talk about the larger issues, shall we?

While a lot of the shouting may be borne out of the post-CATWS surge in Cap and Falcon’s popularity, it’s not without merit as a wholesale response even from non-readers. Historically, the portrayal of Falcon has had some highly stereotyped and racist features (whether intentional or not.) Portraying a black man as a pimp and thug is so entrenched that it is our dominant media narrative about black men in urban areas, rather than the socioeconomic factors at play or whether it’s even TRUE. If someone says a crime was committed by a black man, white people will believe it. The Susan Smith case is a prime example. (There is so much data on race and perception that I’m not even gonna dig up the links for you. GOOGLE IT.)

The matter of representation, in terms of both accuracy and quality is a major one in 2014. Whether we like it or not. And trust me, most of us who are doing a lot of talking about representation in media are NOT all that fond of having to do so. We’d much rather be able to enjoy media without worrying that something will make us want to tear our hair out.

As far as the text is concerned, Jet’s age is clearly established here. Alternate dimension or no, it’s part of the text. A cursory read might miss it, so I make room for alternate interpretations including that she’s LYING. Because I’m pretty sure most of us lied about our age at some point to seem cool, and one of the most frequently used excuses for statutory rape is, “I thought they were (over the age of consent.)”

It’s disingenuous to dismiss the potential to read this in ways that are not what the author intended, it’s there and authorial intent means doodly-squat when all’s said and done. Fundamental rule: We cannot determine how the message is received because intent is not magic and the audience isn’t psychic.

Moving on: the thing that had me hitting the mental brakes and spinning out here, is what’s in the text itself, specifically, the boldface, “ONE glass is enough for me… ” “Oh, C’MON, Falcon, live a little… I really like the effect that it produced.”

That set my flashing neon, nuclear accident alarms off. It’s so very much like tactics used by rapists to render their targets pliable or incapacitated. And that impression is not in any way ameliorated by the rest of the issue.

So the biggest question I had, factoring this in with Lorelei having sex with Grant Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is: Why are we not talking about men in the Marvel Universe being sexually assaulted? It may not be what’s intended, but that’s what’s happening.

If someone is unable to give consent by a legal definition, (and if you can’t legally drive due to intoxication, you can’t legally give consent to sex,) including due to magical mind-control, then having sex with them is legally rape.

Let that sink in for a moment, because this is me as a feminist and a survivor of rape saying that we are letting what reads to me and what in at least one case meets the legal definition of rape, slide because it’s happening to men. Whether that’s because we’re exhausted by trying to be heard about rape culture as it applies to women and the salmon-upstream nature of it, or that we’re being terrified and threatened on a daily basis and we’re overwhelmed at the task of emptying the ocean of male-dominant perpetrator/female victim apologism and rape culture, I don’t know.

Rape culture is excusing rape and harassment of men because we’re inculcated with the idea that men want sex all the time and that therefore any sex will be welcome, or that men can’t be raped because of physical strength, or that it’s impossible to rape a man because a man has to be physically aroused to engage in penetrative sex.

No. That’s not how it works.

And it is exhausting having to explain this, especially because during the, “Fire Rick Remender,” uproar, people were not listening to anything that might not toe the Marvel line on this.

Considering the subsequent announcement of Sam Wilson taking up the mantle of Captain America the following week, I get the united front and hardline, “Falcon is not a rapist,” stance. It doesn’t change the fact that there are nuanced discussions we need to have about not just representation and optics, but about the concepts of portraying consent, particularly in the context of drinking or other substances. Consent isn’t just saying, “No,” or fighting off advances. Consent isn’t just saying, “Yes,” either. It’s informed, aware, enthusiastic, “Yes’s” coupled with the ability to say, “No,” without fear. Adopting that in model in media could change EVERYTHING.

We need to talk about these things because in the real world, they happen and we can’t just say, “But it’s right there in the text.”

And I think we CAN have those conversations but there has to be a willingness of the people in power (writers, artists, publishers, and film/tv producers) to have that discussion even if it makes them uncomfortable.

I keep coming back again and again to the fact that what we see in media has the power to build empathy, to make us question the status quo, and inspire us to make changes in the real world or it can reinforce the status quo ad infinitum.

And don’t tell me it’s just a comic book. How often have comics been used to convey a message to readers like say, Spider-Man and the dangers of drugs? Facile arguments that reinforce the idea that comics are an infantile art form are not welcome here.

Superheroes have always given me hope for our capacity to do better, no matter how dark the circumstance or how fragile we may be, we can keep fighting with our last breath if it means making the world better and helping someone else.

I have faith that there are a lot of people making comics who want to do the best that they can to make them something that tells stories in the most authentic and inclusive way possible. I also know that learning the things we need to know to do that, is a little like having to battle our dark half while absorbing an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge.

It takes time, and it’s not comfortable or easy to dismantle the parts of ourselves that have become things we consciously detest. It’s worth it, though.

The absolute, unfettered, screaming joy I felt at seeing an image of Sam Wilson as Captain America and knowing how much that means to kids who don’t often get to see heroes who look like them and what it means for people who may not think of themselves as consciously racist when they reacted poorly to that image but then started to ask themselves why, or even just for people who are fighting to see a world in media that looks like the world we occupy and are so often told isn’t what’s, “Real,” was practically an air raid siren.

It’s every step, you see. Every step we take towards the light, towards equality, and every step towards media reflecting the world back at us in a way that doesn’t erase people is a step towards being better in the physical reality we occupy.

Representation matters. Conscious awareness of how what we do in narrative media can halt, subvert, or feed into our actual culture and toxic bias, matters. Listening to each other, whether audience or creators, matters.

Can we do that?

*NB: Author would like to add that this is an issue that affects all media, and Marvel is simply the case in point at this moment in time. 

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel–We Are Needed

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel: We Are Needed #1 by Edginton, Cosentino, et al Review by Prof. Jenn

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

Imagine my delight when I saw this title pop up on BOOM!’s forthcoming comics list! I didn’t know they were making comic versions of this old favorite of mine! Now these, kids, are the real Avengers, as far as I’m concerned, and I had high standards going into this first issue. The TV show was a delicate combination of weirdly out-there almost sci-fi and taut spy thriller/detective procedural, which is a difficult balance to get right (*cough* the 1998 movie *cough*). This writer/artist combo has nailed it.

We begin issue #1 by seeing a murder, not knowing who is involved or why, only that there are dollhouses about. Then we are introduced to our two heroes the way every Steed/Peel episode did on TV: the phrase “Mrs. Peel, we are needed” revealed in a cute and clever way. The story in this first issue unfolds and by the time we get to the end of the issue we definitely are clamoring to see what will happen next. Which is the way the TV show was, too.

The art is colorful and rather “mod” in style, which is perfect for the setting and characters. As you’ve heard me say many times before when reviewing Doctor Who and Firefly comics, it’s a special trick to comic-book-ize a live TV show, as you don’t want to do just an actor portrait, but you don’t want to draw the characters so unlike their actors that they are unrecognizable, either. This issue nails it, again.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend Steed and Mrs. Peel: We Are Needed (why aren’t they calling it The Avengers? Copyright w/Marvel?) and can’t wait for the next issue.

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Comic Review – Star Trek: Flesh and Stone

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STK_FASIn this one-shot special, Space Station Diamandis 1 is hosting one of the biggest medical conferences ever held when a low-warp escape pod comes across their path.

Flash over to Drs. Bashir (Deep Space 9), Crusher (U.S.S. Enterprise), and Pulaski (U.S.S. Repulse) approaching Diamandis Station a bit behind schedule only to find it has been infected by a contagion of unknown origin. Everyone on board has been infected, so they are warning ships not to approach. It seems the only one who has not been incapacitated is “The Doctor”, the hologram that once was the medical officer on the U.S.S. Voyager and now is chief medical officer of Copernicus Station. The Doctor, along with Bashir, Crusher, and Pulaski, have to put their combined medical knowledge together to solve this problem. Things get even more interesting, however, when they find a connection to the original Constitution-Class Enterprise. As you probably remember, Dr McCoy was the medical officer on that ship. Coincidentally he is, at the time of this adventure, an admiral who is retired and living on a nearby planet. He tells the visiting Drs. a story of when he first encountered this illness, and how he worked with Dr Phlox to find a cure.

What I loved most about this story was how it was able to incorporate every doctor we’ve become familiar with throughout Star Trek history, seemingly without even trying. It was an especially nice surprise to see the doctor from the series Enterprise working with McCoy. The best part about this one-shot is you don’t have to be a super fan to enjoy it. Sure, the bigger fans will enjoy seeing history interconnect with itself, but a passing fan will get enjoyment from the story itself. I highly recommend picking this one up at your local comic shop today.

American Horror Story — Pilot, Home Invasion, & Murder House

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I’ll start off by saying that I was not expecting to like American Horror Story as much as I seem to. The first episode was suspenseful and exhilarating and seemed to pack a, well, mansion’s worth of story into 52 minutes. I was going to start out with two episodes, but ended up accidentally watching three. That’s a good sign.

(Obviously if you’re somehow like me, hiding under an AHS-less rock, you will have events from the first three episodes spoiled for you in this post).

I took notes as I watched, so here are a few samples of my immediate reactions to scenes:

- STUFF IN JARS ALWAYS BAD.

- “We’re the Adams family now,” was a perfect line. I love Violet.

- Tate is the boy from the crying GIFs! He’s already crying and I’m already happy.

- This guy is naked a lot.

- Masturcrying, this show is brutal.

I was completely mistaken when I assumed the show would be episodic horror stories, and I’m ecstatic that I was so wrong. Each episode does seem to have a loose theme of its own–the introduction to the Harmon family in episode one, the serial killer saga in episode two, and the backstories of a handful of other characters in episode three. But the show is ripe with underlying plot and momentum, with a slow burn of suspense rolling underneath it all.

Here’s how the characters are ranked in my estimation currently:

Violet Harmon – I can’t help it, I love her. Her sarcasm, blunt honesty, and unique style are great. She also won points expressing her preference for the East coast.

Moira- I find her incredibly interesting, especially that women see her as a strange old lady and men see her as an object of lust. The men “see what they want to see; women, however, see into the soul of a person,” line was perfect. I am interested to know what kind of spirit she is, and how that works in this universe, since it seems strange that she died as a young woman but now shows age. I hope that is explored later.

Tate- I can’t help it. I adore him. It’s not surprising. I have a thing for screwed up young dude characters. Most of my speculation has to do with him so more on that later.

Vivien Harmon- She’s ending up on the middle of this list and that seems about right. There are some things to like about her as a main character, but she’s a bit bland, too. She seems to have the best instincts out of all of the Harmons–but not quite good enough. The pregnancy story line kind of bothers me.

Larry- Idk I guess this show is great for me because I like all the psychos? I think he might actually be trying to help, so that’s nice, and he reminded me of Mr. Rogers in that sweater vest in the flashback of him killing his family, so points for that creepy imagery.

Adelaide- I don’t like her or really know what to make of her yet. Her supernatural connection to the house is appropriately creepy. I like that she tried to help the Harmons that one time.

Constance- What to say! I love to hate her? I don’t know what to make of her. Mostly I’m curious about why she was trying to poison Violet with those cupcakes. Unless she knew about the hostage situation and everything that would be happening? It would be neat if she has some clairvoyant connection to the house like Addy does.

Hayden- Glad that whole situation was taken care of quickly (thanks, Larry!) I felt bad for the situation she was in, but her unraveling mental state while trying to cling to Jerkface Ben was just awkward.

Ben Harmon- Are we supposed to like him? Does anyone root for this guy? I’m assuming there will be lots of people dying this season and I kinda hope he’s first.

So let’s throw out some wild speculation. Tate. All the supernatural elements are linked to the house, so I’m curious about his connection to it. When he attacked Leah in the basement there were flashes of a monster that looked a bit gobliny to me. That was the same monster that killed the twins in the first scene of the show. So, I’m wondering if he is that goblin-thing? Or perhaps has some control over it? I’ve also briefly entertained the idea that he is Constance’s son who was mentioned at some point, especially since they all seem to know each other.

I wonder if it’s possible to get through this season with a Harmon or two still intact. Since this is the Murder House season, I will leave off with the current House Death Toll: 14.

 

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The Her Universe Fashion Show at Comic-Con 2014

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Her Universe, Hot Topic and Nerdist Industries put on their very first “Geek Couture” fashion show last night at SDCC and it was fantastic. The Hyatt Ballroom was packed, the designers came up with some beautiful and unique nerdy outfits, and Her Universe’s very own Ashley Eckstein looked beautiful in a Totoro inspired couture dress, mainly because she was excited to announce that Her Universe has acquired licensing rights for Studio Ghibli merch to be sold at Hot Topic this fall! Yes, I’m just as excited as you!

My personal favorite designs of the night were Lauren Bregman’s “Effie’s Trinkets” worn by stunning model Adrianne Curry, and Andrew MacLaine’s “Regina’s Curse” which literally wowed the crowd. Regina herself, Lana Parrilla, even tweeted about it.

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Hopefully this will become an annual event, so you nerds can attend next time. And props to DJ Amanda for playing some sweet 80s jams during the Back to the Future and Metroid inspired portion of the night.

For more information on the event and where to buy cool geek fashion visit http://www.heruniverse.com/

 

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Interview: Nathan Hamill (Toy Designer, Artist, Nerd)

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It’s almost time for San Diego Comic-Con 2014 and, like all of you nerds, I’m trying to figure out what I really want to spend my money on because, holy crap, there are always so many cool toys there! So, in my quest to find all the must-have releases this year, I decided to interview one of my friends and favorite toy designers, Nathan Hamill. I already own most of his figures, and since he keeps coming up with even cooler ones every year, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. So, if you’re one of the many lucky nerds attending the convention this year, make sure you don’t miss out on his awesome SDCC releases. Photos and info on where to buy below!

1) Most of us know you’re a ginormous nerd with a pretty solid toy collection that I often want to steal from, but how did you end up becoming a toy designer? What was your motivation to release Boris, your first vinyl figure?

I started with Boris when Patrick Geologo, who I once worked with at Toy Planet when I was in high school, was looking for artists to work with as U1Toy Arts was just starting out. Boris was originally a design for a cartoon called Animal Bandits. He’s a surly, suspicious little guy with a Napoleon complex. Like a Joe Pesci of the forest. And thanks for not stealing my toys. I know it can be hard not to.

2) What toys did you cherish most as a child? What are some of your favorite figures that you own now?

I carried a Darth Vader 3 3/4″ Kenner figure with me wherever I went. I had a vice like grip on that one. And currently it is Lavabear: Classic Ed., which I took all around Disney World on a recent trip. Some things never change.

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3) You have some really cool releases coming up for SDCC. In particular, I’m excited about Lavabear and can’t wait to get one. What’s his story? Where did you get the inspiration to create him?

His backstory is inspired somewhat by the Gollum of Jewish lore and even a little by Tik-Tok of Oz, who was a protector of sorts too. There are obvious pop culture elements in the design but there are some that are more subtle and some that were subconsciously incorporated. I have no control of my pop culture soaked brain.

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Lavabear: Classic Ed. Vinyl. 8 inches tall. Limited to 125 pieces. $80. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

4) What about Octopup? How did you decide on all the different colorways? Were you trying to make me angry because I gotta catch them all?

Making you angry is always just a happy accident. As my first sofubi, I just chose color ways that would really pop. Stay tuned for some custom pieces from others artists soon.

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Octopup: Octocrush Ed. Sofubi (Soft Japanese Vinyl). 2 inches. $10. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

5) You also collaborated with Flat Bonnie and came up with a rad and squishy Octoplush version. Any future collaborations with her or other artists?

For SDCC, Flat Bonnie and I will have 3 Octoplush: Aquapup Ed. mini plushes as giveaways at the 3DRetro booth #5049. There will be 3 “Golden” tickets hidden inside the header cards of the Octopup: Octocrush Ed. sofubis. If you get a ticket, present it to 3DRetro and take home a free Octoplush.

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SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

6) Your toys are awesome, but you’ve also released some fantastic art. What artists do you admire? Is there anything in particular you think influences your style?

There are too many to list if we’re talking about admiration and even influence whether big or small. But I think artists like Kozik, John K., Tim Burton and others that juxtapose cartoons with darker themes or underlying messages probably influenced me the most. I like taking a cute, large character and adding something subtly sinister or off to them. A friend once called my style “cute macabre”, and I’ll happily take that description.

7) “My Father, My Lord” might be my favorite print of yours because I’m a dark, emo nerd. For those of us who can’t even draw stick figures, can you talk about the process of coming up with a piece like this? Is this how you usually work?

I don’t ever really work the same way from one piece to the next.  It really depends on what it calls for and the mood I’m in. This one in particular came together really quickly. Once I had the concept, the rough was finished surprisingly fast. It’s something very dear to my heart, so it just came naturally. Then, it was just adding bits here and there and refining the whole thing.

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8) Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one are you the most proud of?

Lavabear is my favorite hands down. It contains many elements that I’ve found myself using in other toys and resins. In addition to that, there are a few pop culture references too, one obvious and the rest were subconsciously incorporated. Bubbling up from my nerdy pop culture ladened brain.

9) What other exciting things can fans and collectors expect from Nathan Hamill in the future? Can you give us any spoilers?

2015 will be a great one. Lots to look forward to, but the one I’m most excited about will be very appropriate for the year. And, no, it’s not Star Wars!

Thanks, Nathan! And I’m totally getting one of your MimoPowerTubes while I’m at the con. So rad looking and practical!

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Mimoco’s SDCC Booths #5245 and #2913M

Visit www.nathanhamill.com for the latest news on his current and future releases.

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Comic Review: 24 Underground #4

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When last we left our hero, he was trying to rescue his girlfriend from the Russians. Little did he know that she had already escaped. Jack also doesn’t realize the Russians aren’t the only problem he has to worry about. The CIA is on his tail and getting warmer…

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We start this issue of 24 where we previously left things. Sofiya may have escaped, but she’s not out of the woods yet. The Russians are tracking her down, but of course haven’t told Bauer she went missing. The CIA are tracking her as well, so that they can use her to find Bauer. Who will get to her first? Will Jack be able to outsmart the Russians during their meet? in true 24 fashion some of the answers will be revealed now, some will have to wait until the next issue.

I have to say that I have really been enjoying this story so far. Not only does it work well on its own, but it also was great information to have in the back of my head while watching Live Another Day. (Side note: not going to spoil anything but OMG DID YOU SEE THAT FINALE?! Only 24 brings you that kind of energy). I definitely recommend reading the back issues if you’re just starting out. Whenever Jack referenced his family on the show, I pictured the events happening in the comic and wonder if this is the family he was referring to. I assume that will be made clear when this story reaches its thrilling conclusion.

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #2

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Is he a perceived fake or is his power known? That lasting question was partially answered in the new new issue of Thomas Alsop. However, I’m more concerned with the fact that the family backstory is teetering on the edge of information overload. Keep the balance, keep my attention.

 

My question last month was how much does the outside world know about Alsop’s abilities. While his friend seemed to be in on it, I wasn’t sure how much the everyday population knew. Here was this old rock star who became a paranormal investigator. As expected, he’s more cast in the light of media celebrity than known warrior. If someone believes in him, that’s cool, but it seems like the majority see him as some fake who puts on a good show. I guess that makes it easier for him to slip in and out of cases?

 

With that cleared up, we move on to the family backstory. In this issue, we started seeing a glimpse of how dense that backstory really is, and I began to fear we’d be overloaded by too much too soon. The informational boxes about his family armory items was already intrusive, and then we had to keep up with the whole family mansion by way of mausoleum, disapproving uncle and sister, something about the Five Families Treaty, and a whole host of other drama that had me wishing for a notebook to keep track of it all. The one thing we did get out of all that, which sparked my interest, was the fact that Thomas seems to be on a recovery mission for family heirlooms that were previously lost. He replaces a gun that used to belong to his father and marks the item off a list in his ledger. If this is his underlying mission, I very much approve. It’d be neat to see him taking back what is rightfully his family’s, one item at a time.

 

Maybe we’ll soon get more information on the other story threads that were teased in this issue, too. Like Thomas’ old band, The Black Sheep, or his ancestor’s involvement with The Black Ring and Master Bliss. It feels like everything’s connected, but how? I’m looking forward to finding out.

 

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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