Friday, February 28, 2014

TREASURE CHEST - - - Short reviews of less recent books worth digging around for

LOST BOYS  (1992)

by Orson Scott Card
 
       This is an early work by the same author of the popular ENDER'S GAME science fiction series, and more recently famous for his anti-homosexuality statements. However, that has nothing to do with this book and really nothing to do with any of his writings. I'm not endorsing his personal values and beliefs. I'm just hoping to draw attention to a skilled writer who really develops characters and does so with compassion and understanding  (in direct contradiction to his rigid opinions on sexual preference).  This is the first horror novel written by Card, and has nothing to do with the 1980's teen vampire movie of the same name.
 
 
 
          There is an element of dark sub-surface horror that runs throughout this book; but the action related to it only takes up about one-third of the book at best.  However, the surface story - that of a family trying to make a new life and cope with the challenges and struggles - is so compelling that you won't care.  Card is a master story-teller and really fleshes out his characters here and makes you care about them, right up to the tearful ending.  Keep the tissues handy.
 
          Knowing that Card is a Mormon and the family in this story is very involved in the Mormon faith - - I thought this might be his treatise-in-disguise on the Mormon way.  Rather, it's only a little bit of an explanation.  Card shows both sides and actually plants some seeds of doubt.  However, it doesn't take away from the story - - it just enhances it.  Don't be afraid to check this out.
 
 
         

 
THE BOURNE LEGACY (2004)
by Eric Van Lustbader
 
          This is a nice follow-up to the Bourne trilogy by a different author.  At this point, Eric Van Lustbader has written more novels featuring Jason Bourne than Robert Ludlum.  I believe this was his first attempt.  It's long, but true to form and worth the time you will invest in it.
         
          I can almost imagine Robert Ludlum writing this.  I don't want to spoil anything here.  If you enjoy the original Bourne novels, you will surely love this.  In case you were wondering, the recent BOURNE LEGACY movie with Jeremy Renner is only loosely based on this novel.  The novel is much more intricate and complex.  While I enjoyed the movie, the book is much better and more memorable.
 
A DARK MATTER  (2009)
by Peter Straub
 
          Peter Straub gets deeply into characters, even more so with this book.  It is not terrifying (as some blurbs describe it) so much as it is disturbing.
 
 
          An event occurs that changes the lives of everyone involved.  The story re-visits the event from his character's viewpoint, tries to reconstruct it, and probes deeply into how lingering traces of what actually occurred have affected everyone involved.  Straub is a master at this, and A DARK MATTER is the best example of this style. You should check it out.
 
 
 
YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD CRIMINAL (2010)
by Michael Van Rooy
 
          This is a delightful and amusing crime novel that will remind you of FLETCH the novel and BURN NOTICE the television series. Winnipeg writer Michael Van Rooy has created a classic character in Monty Haavik.  He's an ex-con who just wants to go straight and raise a family but his past keeps interfering with his moving on. 
 
          He's witty, sharp, quick thinking, street smart and also a smart aleck.  His comments and observations are funny, and the insights into criminal methods are very revealing.  It's too bad that author Van Rooy passed away in late 2011, and we won't get to see where he planned to take this character.  The book takes place in Canada and is the second novel to feature this character.


 
          



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Last Iron Fist Story…Until The Next One!

TPB:  The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja
Price:  $14.99

If you only think of Brubaker as that guy who writes Captain America than you don’t know Brubaker.  From Fatale to Criminal, Brubaker has proven himself an excellent writer of the noir genre.  He’s done amazing independent work on The Authority and has written mainstream marvel titles like Secret Avengers and X-men.  Matt Fraction is best known for his work on Iron Man and several major crossover events in the Marvel Universe such as Fear Itself and AvX.  David Aja is lesser known artist but has illustrated Daredevil and several Wolverine One-shots. 

The Immortal Iron Fist ran for 27 issues starting in 2006 making it the longest solo run in the 30-odd year history of the character.  The book retells the character’s origins while revealing more about the previous avatars of the Iron Fist.  Danny Rand is the Immortal Iron Fist but is he the only one?  When a man wielding the power of the Iron Fist (as well as dual pistols!) comes to visit Danny, he learns that both the legacy of the Iron Fist and the limits to his own powers might not be what they seem. 

While the art and storytelling are both good, Iron Fist just doesn’t seem to have the same action and excitement as other books.  The character’s origin is retold almost every issue throughout the trade as if reminding us that Iron Fist’s most notable power is not being able to sustain a fan following.  While seeing a pistol-carrying Iron Fist is awesome, Danny’s character almost seems superfluous in his own book. 

If you’re looking for a good Iron Fist story though, look to the second trade in this series.  Iron Fist must partake in a martial arts competition in the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven all while learning why his father never became an Iron Fist, leading an insurrection, and protecting the mystical realm from invasion from the outside.  It’s an action packed book with an ambitious plot and a satisfying conclusion.   

Final rating for Vol. 1 (out of 5):

Final rating for Vol. 2 (out of 5):

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

THE 2013 GHASTLY AWARD WINNERS

(Editor's Note: Back in January 2014, I listed the Ghastly Award nominees and named my personal picks to win. It's time to announce the actual winners and to compare with my picks to see how well I did with my predictions. Results = 8 out of 13 total.) The Ghastly Award Judges chose the nominees from the books submitted by Comics Creators and Publishers throughout 2013. Winners were chosen by the Judges, Comic Book Creators and the Fans. The Ghastly Judicial Panel congratulates all 2013 Winners and Nominees. It is an honor to be recognized by fellow professionals for such outstanding work in horror comics. THE 2013 WINNERS ARE: BEST ONGOING TITLE: Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics) - - - my pick also BEST MINI-SERIES: Locke & Key: Omega (IDW Publishing) - - - my pick also BEST ONE-SHOT: Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven & The Red Death (Dark Horse) BEST NEW SERIES (Fan Voting Decided the Winner): Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics)- - - my pick also BEST ANTHOLOGY: Bloke's Terrible Tomb of Terror (Independent) BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL: Hellboy: The Midnight Circus (Dark Horse) BEST ARCHIVAL COLLECTION: Steve Ditko Monsters VOl 1: Gorgo (IDW Publishing) - - - my pick also BEST WRITER: Joe Hill (Locke & Key: Omega) - - - my pick also BEST ARTIST: Richard Corben (Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven & the Red Death) - - - my pick also BEST INKER: Terry Moore (Rachel Rising) - - - my pick also BEST LETTERER: Clem Robins (B.P.R.D., Baltimore, Hellboy in Hell, The Strain) - - - my pick also BEST COLORIST: Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie) BEST WEB COMIC: The Last Halloween (www.last-halloween.com) HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES: Gene Colan + Archie Goodwin Named for acclaimed comics cdeator "Ghastly" Graham Ingels, the Awards are in their fourth year. Created to honor excellence in Horror Comics, Comic Creators and Publishers can submit their books for nomination consideration throughout the calendar year. The top five nominees in each category will be chosen by the judges, and will then be voted on by the Judges, Creators and Fans to decide the winners. The submission process in now open for the 2014 awards! For more informaion on the Ghastly Awards, or to submit your horror comics for the 2014 year, please go to www.ghastlyawards.com.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Baltimore Comic-Con Guest List continues to grow . . . . .

from the official press release . . . . . .

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - February 17, 2014 - The new and expanded floor for the premiere 3-day show continues to fill in.  The 2014 Baltimore Comic-Con will be held the weekend of September 5-7 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The Baltimore Comic-Con is elated to welcome back the amazingly talented Kevin Maguire, Herb Trimpe, and Mark Waid.

Kevin Maguire acquired notoriety working on a number of DC titles including Justice League, Formerly Known As Justice League, JLA Classified, and Doom Patrol, as well as Marvel's Defenders.  He is one of the artists credited with the re-launch of DC's Teen Titans and alternated art duties on the re-launched World's Finest.   Maguire has recently been seen on Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.  

Artist/writer Herb Trimpe has the privilege of having been the first to bring the X-Men's Wolverine to life in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #181. Trimpe cut his teeth with Marvel beginning in comics' Silver Age of the 1960s, where he began his long run on The Incredible Hulk, as well as a year spent on The Defenders later in his careerHis long tenure at Marvel also meant he would go on to work with most all of the major characters (and many minor ones).  More recently, Trimpe's lines can be found gracing the pages of IDW's GI Joe: A Real American Hero and Dinosaurs Attack

The multiple Harvey and Eisner Award-winning Mark Waid has been the voice behind numerous issues, mini-series, and title runs that have resonated throughout comics fandom and the creative community alike.   His acclaimed runs and series include DC Comics' The Flash, Kingdom Come, The Kingdom, JLA: Year One, JLA, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superman: Birthright, Marvel Comics' Captain America, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, The Indestructible Hulk, and Daredevil, BOOM! Studios' Incorruptible and Irredeemable, Archie Comics' The Fox, and Empire, originally published by Gorilla Comics and later by DC Comics.   He also went on to become Editor-in-Chief and then Chief Creative Officer at BOOM! Studios, while continuing to work on freelance assignments for other publishers.  Waid is one of the principals behind Thrillbent Comics, a digital comics initiative, where he also publishes titles such as In the Pi of the Beholder, Luther, Cthulhu Calls, If You're So Smart, and Insufferable.

"We are so blessed to have guests of this caliber attending our show," commented Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con.   "Each of these gentlemen has made significant contributions to the industry in which we work, and they truly raise the bar for the Con."

This year's previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist);  Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl);  Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White);  Greg Capullo (Batman);  Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps);  Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man);  Jimmy Cheung (Infinity);  Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman);  Frank Cho (X-Men:  Battle of the Atom);  Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones);  Steve Conley (Bloop);  Alan Davis (Wolverine);  Tommy Lee Edwards (Suicide Risk);  Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys);  David Finch (Forever Evil);  Dave Gibbons (Watchmen);  Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar);  Michael Golden (The Ravagers);  Cully Hamner (Animal Man);  Dean Haspiel (The Fox);  Fred Hembeck (Garfield);  Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan);  JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White);  Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians);  Barry Kitson (Empire);  Aaron Kuder (Action Comics);  David Mack (Shadowman);  Alex Maleev (Moon Knight);  Ron Marz (Witchblade);  Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold);  Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual);  Mark Morales (New Avengers);  Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller);  David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Eric Powell (The Goon);  Joe Prado (Justice League);  Brian Pulido (Lady Death);  Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others);  Budd Root (Cavewoman);  Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man);  Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro);  John K. Snyder III (Zorro Rides Again);  Allison Sohn (sketch card artist);  Charles Soule (Thunderbolts);  Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors);  Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face);  John Totleben (Swamp Thing);  Billy Tucci (Shi);  Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing);  Matt Wagner (Grendel);  Bill Willingham (Fables);  Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom);  and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).   

About The Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area.  For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry's oldest and most respected awards.  With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories.  They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.   For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scalped Vol. 1

SCALPED Volume 1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: R.M. Guera
Vertigo | graphic novel | $14.99
Scalped was a 60 issue series created by Jason Aaron and published by Vertigo. It follows the story of Bad Horse who left the reservation fifteen years ago as a child. While passing back through the reservation to supposedly wait out some heat brought down on him by the white man, he gets pressed into service as a reservation peace officer ahead of the opening of the reservation’s first casino.
You may know Aaron as the longtime writer of Wolverine and the X-Men or as the writer of the second series of Punisher MAXR.M. Guera is a Serbian comic book writer and artist who lives in Spain but has few credits to his name.
You don’t have to be a bleeding heart to feel bad about how the Native Americans live. In the heart of America, Bad Horse’s reservation suffers from rampant alcoholism, poverty, crime, and meth-heads looking to cook up a batch in one of the many abandoned shacks on this wasteland. Although set in current time and in a world largely unchanged from our own, a quick skimming of the book would lead you to believe it’s set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future.
Fortunately for the reservation, Bad Horse is more than he seems. He is actually an FBI agent sent to infiltrate the reservation and get close to Lincoln Red Crow, President of the Oglala Tribal Council and Sheriff of the Tribal Police, to try to tie him to the thirty year old murder of two FBI agents. As Red Crow grows suspicious of Bad Horse, his tough job gets even tougher.  In addition to that, Bad Horse must also deal with his mother, an old radical for Indian rights, and his childhood love who is now a worn out drunk who goes home with the last man to buy her a beer.
The writing in this book doesn’t shy away from the ugly details of this community wracked by alcoholism and crime or how the generational poverty removes all hope for a better life. While Red Crow and his cronies get rich from direct payments from the government, most of the society is relegated to permanent underclass status. The implication that the casino will not change this is all the more reason to get something to pin on Red Crow so as to destroy the corrupt power structure he has built there.
The art of the book matches the somber tone of the reservation. The backgrounds show cracked mortar and people sleeping in the street with a bottle still clutched in their hands. Flophouses flank the casino construction site.  The art is heavily shadowed and hash-marked. The flat tones of the reservation clash with the bright and gaudy colors in the casino.
After the first trade, I’m hooked on this book. The story has elements of a classic western in a way I’ve never seen before in a comic. The universe is realistic but it still feels like anything can happen. I highly recommend this book.
Final rating (out of 5): 5_Star

Sunday, February 9, 2014

GREG PAK: Busy loving what he does in comics

 

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 06, 2014  - - WILMINGTON, DELAWARE . . . The Comic Book Shop on Marsh Road held an event to help usher in the debut issue of TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER  from Dynamite Entertainment at their store, with a gracious Greg Pak signing his work and chatting with fans.

Greg Pak

          I had a feeling the event would be busy, maybe too busy to hope for an extended interview with Pak - - and I wasn’t wrong about that.  There was a steady stream of fans from 5 to 8 p.m. entering and exiting The Comic Book Shop.  At one time the line to meet Greg extended across the full width of the store  (it’s rather spacious, and growing soon). 

  I settled for the chance to get a few autographs on Pak items from my collection  (Turok, Dinosaur Hunter; Doctor Strange: Year One; and The Eternal Warrior) and ask a few questions.  I got back in line a few more times to ask some additional questions.  I also learned quite a bit from just hanging out near the autograph table and listening to Pak interact with his fans.  He’s a very friendly, warm and open person and a pleasure to converse with.

          One of the first things I noticed about Greg was his willingness to complete sketches along with his signature.  (He did an awesome sketch of Doctor Strange in my hardcover book - - look for the photo below).  I asked him if he was an artist in addition to being a writer and a film maker. He replied that he likes to draw occasionally and usually does so at signings.  I thought his style was very well-suited for a daily or weekly comic strip or web comic, but Greg said he’s not a fast enough artist to even consider something like that.

Strange sketch

         The four core books that Pak is currently working on are ACTION COMICS, ETERNAL WARRIOR, BATMAN/SUPERMAN, and TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER.   His current favorite title to work on is whichever one that he’s working on at the time.  (What a clever, diplomatic answer!)  He is especially proud of the “plot first” method of working together with artist Aaron Kuder on ACTION COMICS.  He will send a small synopsis with key plot points to Kuder and follow up with a phone conversation where they will talk it over.  Kuder then draws the pages and sends them back to Pak, who waits until then to write and insert the dialogue and captions. He’s really enjoying that style of working and the collaboration between writer and artist.  (It did remind him of the old Marvel bullpen style when Stan Lee was scripting multiple titles every month).

         He especially likes the balance between the different types of books he’s working on now. When a fan asked him about this he made an analogy to classic screen actor and horror film star Peter Lorre.  Pak said that while Lorre was filming M about a child murderer with director Fritz Lang in the 1940’s, he would leave the studio to perform on stage in a version of Cabaret in the evening.

Some of the books he’s scripted that he’s most proud of are RED SKULL: INCARNATE and X-MEN MAGNETO: TESTAMENT.  Both books allowed him to explore the early days of each character and to incorporate historical detail (mainly circa World War II) into the narrative while also delving into the psychological make-up of each character and what events shaped their philosophy and values.

Pak is not doing any work at Marvel right now because he is so busy.  He would have liked a shot at the new SILVER SURFER title, but is excited about the creative team assigned to that book.

          Along with the variant editions of TUROK that the Comic Book Shop made available , Pak was also singing copies of LOS ROBOS for younger readers.  That came about from an Asian comics anthology that he contributed a story to.  Pak spent his own money to have it colored and to get it printed in an edition that he can take to conventions and signings and “to have something for kids.”  He also outlined the script for a 120 page graphic novel featuring these characters and is considering a Kickstarter campaign to finance it.

Pak sketch

      Greg started reading comics as a child and has loved reading comics “all my life.”  His current favorites are Brian Azzarello’s WONDER WOMAN, Scott Snyder’s BATMAN, and his friend Fred Van Lenthe’s ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG.   Among his all-time favorites are Bill Mantlo and Mike Golden’s classic MICRONAUTS and MOON KNIGHT.  He’s currently re-reading BATMAN: YEAR ONE and THE VALLEY OF THE WIND.

          Referring to his current assignment as TUROK writer, Pak was approached by Dynamite to consider taking the job.  He was only a little familiar with the classic character and was able to read some archive Gold Key issues for background.  He was not familiar with the video game, which Acclaim based their version of Turok on (or vice versa), but ended up buying an old Nintendo system just so he could play the game.

   I asked him if the key scene in TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER where infant Turok’s parents are slaughtered in front of his eyes was an intended homage to how Bruce Wayne was inspired to become Batman after his parents were gunned down in the streets.  Greg said that was not planned at all.  It was brought to his attention when a blogger posted images of the kneeling survivor from both TUROK and BATMAN issues side by side.

more line for Pak

        Pak said the native American tribe that Turok belongs to was based on the Lenape people of New York State, specifically the island that became Manhattan. Of course, actual history has no documentation of the Lenapes in the time period that TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER is set in.  So, Pak is detailing his version of what he believes the tribe that preceded the Lenapes would be like.

  I asked if Greg would be adding any additional elements/plots to the title along with the Lenapes, dinosaurs, and Crusaders he’s introduced so far.  He replied that “for right now, I’ve set up a lot of stuff in the opening issues, and I want to take the time to explore it all and do it right.”

   I’m betting he gets it right; and I look forward to following TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER every month.

Photo Opportunities: Batman chills out

 

Batman loves pinball

Even the Dark Knight deserves a night out! 

Batman plays  Batman

Thanks to Kevin Diplacido for his good nature!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

SHORT REVIEWS: Meanwhile, back at Marvel and DC . . . .

AVENGERS WORLD #1 (Marvel, March 2014) Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer, writers. Stefano Caselli, artist. Color artist, Frank Martin.

detail

          I stepped away from trying to follow THE AVENGERS after the events of Secret Invasion when the number of Avengers titles and over-lapping mega-storylines just became too much to try to stay up with. The same thing happened to THE UNCANNY X-MEN many years prior. I just had to give up. And, truth be told, super-hero stories just weren’t giving me that same bang for the buck that I once enjoyed. However, I never lost my interest in many of these iconic characters so I kept looking in from time to time. So here comes Marvel with yet another re-boot. So, I decide to pick a new Avengers book and jump in again. (so soon after Marvel Now! - - does that make this Marvel That Was Then, This Is Now! ??) Considering the team-up of Hickman and Spencer, two writers I admire and respect, it seemed like my best bet.

The verdict is not in yet. This is a big blooming book jammed to the gills with characters and secondary events. There are 16 members featured on this team, so it’s going to take awhile to see who gets the spotlight and how they are developed. Iron Man and another character (a female Vance Astro?) are also featured on the cover but nowhere in the book - - so there may be even more players once this storyline gets going. If you blink you might miss seeing your favorite hero. Thor, Hyperion and Captain Marvel are here, but only appear in one single panel. In the meantime, there are three major global catastrophic events occurring at the same time and dividing team members into splinter groups to investigate, rescue civilians or avert disaster. If you don’t read this book twice and give it some focus you are not going to remember anything after putting it down.

          The art by Caselli is good but not great. He does give some new features to classic characters. You know you are viewing Captain America, but as depicted by Caselli there is a different look around the face and hair. (Although, in one panel three different characters are drawn with the same exact nose.) The Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. have combined forces to work together to keep the world safe. It certainly looks like that’s what it’s going to take once the root of all the problems is uncovered in the closing pages. It’s a real epic, folks. I just hope it doesn’t cross over into any other books. This is complex. Will I return for another dip? I believe so, once I work up my courage.

BATMAN AND ROBIN ANNUAL #2 (DC, March 2014) Peter J. Tomasi, writer. Doug Mahnke with Pat Gleason, pencillers.

IMG_1715

          You can always trust Tomasi to write a good Batman story, and he doesn’t disappoint here with a neat all-in-one flashback tale. It’s a tale of Batman and Robin’s (Dick Grayson) very first outing as a team. The story is book-ended by some present day reminiscing when Nightwing (also Grayson) reveals to Bruce Wayne (Batman) that he tried to instill some confidence in Robin (Damien) prior to his first day by re-telling his own first day at Batman’s side.

          Just like Damien, Dick as Robin was also impulsive, dangerously brave, and a little bit cocky and arrogant. It was their first encounter with the villain Tusk (a brawny gangster of elephantine proportions). Mahnke does a good job with the art and it’s hard to detect the Gleason assistance/influence. This story could have been even better if it was solely illustrated by Gleason, who probably needed a bit of a break. Tomasi and Gleason work so well together. Don’t even think about breaking up that team, DC!

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's New Wednesday 2/05/2014? TUROK, DINOSAUR HUNTER




TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER #1 (Dynamite Entertainment, February 2014) Greg Pak, writer. Mirko Colak, artist. Lauren Affe, colorist. Marshall Dillon, letterer. Bart Sears, main cover.

A character as old as several other comics icons gets another chance at emerging into the 21st century when Dynamite Entertainment debuts the first of their Gold Key re-imaginings with TUROK, SON OF STONE. While its’ not entirely clear what direction this new series will take with this classic character, Issue #1 has potential and serves as a good introduction to a world that will feature Native Americans fighting for their lives against ferocious dinosaurs.



In the original version, Turok and his younger brother Andar entered some caverns and wandered off. They lost their way, and emerged into an isolated valley populated by dinosaurs. Their adventures began with Dell Comics in 1954 in the pages of FOUR COLOR COMICS and later earned their own title (TUROK, SON OF STONE) under the Gold Key imprint. They never did find their way back home; and their stories continued from 1956 through 1982 when Gold Key closed down.

Turok remained in comics limbo until resurrection occurred in 1993 with Valiant Entertainment, who acquired the properties along with other Gold Key features DOCTOR SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM and MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER. This version of Turok found him somewhat older and more mature, and still wandering in the “Lost Lands”. Along with the dinosaurs were added some demons and aliens. This series later flashed forward (following the original “Unity” event) to a post apocalyptic future where the main villain/evil genius outfitted dinosaurs with helmets that made them intelligent and dubbed them “bionosaurs”. What started out as a promising re-introduction of Turok to 1990’s comics readers strayed a little too far from the original concept to satisfy veteran readers, and sales dipped.

When Acclaim then acquired everything at Valiant ( original properties as well as the Gold Key characters) they re-booted everything including Turok, who lost his name and origin (but at least still remained a native American). Now Turok was not a character, but a title meaning “son of stone”. The main character was a young adult named Joshua Fireseed and the Lost Lands became a gateway to other alternate universes. Immature Fireseed was charged with traveling between universes while protecting the Lost Lands from various threats. Featuring some of the most mundane and rambling work from writer Fabian Niceiza, this version is most noted for providing the background for an Acclaim video game series.

Back to limbo for the once mighty Turok, who sat in the dark again until Dark Horse Comics gave it a try (along with MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER and MIGHTY SAMPSON) in 2010. They recruited veteran writer Jim Shooter (formerly a Marvel editor as well as a mainspring for Valiant) but did very little in the way of promotion. Without the older core audience even aware of this new version, all three series lasted four issues and vanished.

So, was it really necessary to provide modern readers with all this history of Turok? I believe so, for this is a character that deserves a decent chance at revival as much as other characters that have made comebacks. Dynamite has earned a reputation for quality adaptations and re-imaginings of classic pulp characters. And that, along with the casting choices for the writer/artist team, gives me hope.

In several interviews with writer Greg Pak, he expressed excitement at setting the stage for his version of Turok, retaining the “native Americans versus dinosaurs” storyline while building a new world and promising to entertain fans of alternate history and historical fiction with some new elements he plans to add.

This is a younger version of Turok and the setting seems more familiar. Instead of discovering a secret valley inhabited by dinosaurs, the dinosaurs mysteriously and unexpectedly show up in Turok’s world.

We don’t learn what period in time TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER takes place in until the end of the issue, nor do we know where it happens. The story begins during Turok’s infancy when a traumatic event occurs that will influence him for the rest of his life, similar to the way that a traumatic event forged a dramatic purpose from that point forward for a young Bruce Wayne.



A friendly meeting with another tribe turns ugly, resulting in the deaths of many members. Even though his uncle and others offer protection and a sense of family for young Turok, he bears the mark of what he witnessed and carries the need for retribution inside him. Sixteen years later finds Turok living apart from but near the remaining members of his settlement, the life of a squatter. His only companions appear to be the lizards he befriends, as well as two carved wooden heads which may represent his deceased parents. He’s apparently developed some survival skills, as well some hunting luck so he apparently eats well. His philosophy and values are often expressed by him in three simple words = “alone is better.”

As a result of his isolation and strangeness, he’s considered weird, an outcast, and reported to possess witchy powers. He’s often persecuted, taunted, and abused by his peers. The Andar of previous Turok tales is not his brother or a friend, but an adversary.

The art by Mirko Colak helps to point out these differences. Turok’s hair is cropped and styled differently from the rest of his young tribesmen and Colak highlights his aloofness and attitude through his facial expressions and reactions. His art style is worth studying. There is a lot of detail in the panels, especially the forest scenes which are realistically depicted.

Into this depressing environment the dinosaurs arrive, and with it a quickly forged partnership between Andar and Turok based on survival instinct. Just as soon as Pak establishes the setting for what comes next he inserts another surprising development: the arrival of a pack of Crusaders apparently journeying in a wholly different direction on their mission for God (spell that G-o-l-d, please). Imagine all that occurring on the island of Manhattan. Are you in for more? I definitely want to see where this goes.


















- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Turok #1 Launch Party with GREG PAK and Adam WarRock

 
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 THE COMIC BOOK SHOP in Wilmington, Delaware celebrates the release of TUROK, DINOAUR HUNTER #1  from Dynamite Entertainment with a launch party on Thursday, February 6th with writer Greg Pak and musical guest Adam WarRock.   The excitement begins at 5 p.m. at the store location at 1855 Marsh Road.
 
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          Mostly known for his work on Marvel’s PLANET HULK and currently writing BATMAN/SUPERMAN for DC and ETERNAL WARRIOR for Valiant, Greg Pak is a multi-talented creator with film-making and acting/improvisational skills in addition to his credentials in comic book scripting.  His latest work is TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER for Dynamite Entertainment.  Pak will be signing his books and chatting with fans during his visit to The Comic Book Shop. 

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          A native of Texas, Pak currently resides in New York which serves as the hub for his film directing and comic scripting endeavors.  He is a graduate of Yale University, where he wrote for the campus humor magazine and was also a member of an improv group.  He later received a Rhodes Scholarship to study history at Oxford and finally film studies at New York University. 

          On TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER,  Pak said in a Comic Vine interview:  “This is a story about a Native American fighting dinosaurs.  That is all you need to know.  . . . . “

          “. . . . . I’m not even really kidding, here.  This is great high adventure, alternate history stuff.  we’re doing some really fun world building that should appeal to anyone who gets a kick out of  historical fiction in particular.  But the core of the story is about a young man grappling with a life-and-death struggle that threatens his entire world. . . .. With Dinosaurs! “’

          Pak later told Comics Beat that:  “ . . . . . we’ve got  new angle on Turok, entering his story at an earlier stage than most previous tales.  He’s a young man, an exile from his tribe struggling to survive in a brutal world.  So even before the dinosaurs hit, he’s had to learn how to survive by the skin of his teeth.  But does that set him up to be his people’s savior - - or the ultimate predator?”

More information on Greg Pak can be learned at his official website at   http://gregpak.com/

          Hip-Hop artist Adam WarRock makes “positively-charged music about Comics, Pop Culture, and other geeky stuff!”  His most recent offering is a humorous tribute to actor Bernard Cumberbatch.

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         The biography on his official website - - - - -       

  http://www.adamwarrock.com/    states that  “ . . . . .     . His story is one of do-it-yourself, independent determination, having gone from a humble website to a full-time music career.  Having tapped into the current culture, he’s caught attention from the biggest figures and sites on the web.  Whether being personally cited by Nathan Fillion for his Firely-inspired Browncoats Mixtape, praised by TV critics and cast members for his Parks & Rec EP, or made fans out of artists and writers for his comic book-influenced music, he’s gained the respect of the most fickle audiences and harshest critics around. . . .”

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          “ . . . . . The list of credentials keeps growing, having had his music appear on sites such as io9, WIRED, AV Club, Time, SPIN, and more.  Twice an official SXSW showcase artist, main stage performer at PAX Prime, and having toured with some of the biggest acts around, he continues to turn the heads of music fans, nerds and geeks, and people who love sincere, personal and well-crafted music.  As written in SF Weekly, “Hip hop heads and [nerds] alike will have at least one aspect of his music to carry them through.  And for those who fall in the center of that rap/geek Venn diagram, damn it, you’re in luck.” 

 

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