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By Mandy McGee

Austin, Tx shoegaze band Ringo Deathstarr is releasing a new album called “God’s Dream” is coming out in Japan on December 18th, 2013 and then soon after to the USA and Europe. They have put up the song “Flower Power” from that album to tied you over. Take a listen. 

Do you remember Nerd Punk Rockers Nerf Herder? They had a song on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the theme song! Well they are back. They have a song for free download on Pledge Music and are keeping us in anticipation of amazing things to come. Go download the song and rock out to their 90’s classic video below of their hit “Mr. Spock”.

Light hearted folk country by story teller Laura Shepherd from Virginia has a new video out for the song “Stone Soup”. Take a look at look

By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

Before I get into this week’s reviews, I want to address something that was in all of the DC New 52 books that came out this week.   The back pages.

I am aware that comic book publishers make a good chunk of money from advertising pages in the books. This is something I’ve come to accept with the Big 2 (Marvel and DC) . The story flow will be interrupted with ads for sneakers, video games, or other titles. There will be big ads on the back cover that usually have nothing to do with the comic company at all.   Independent labels like Dark Horse, Image, and IDW do much better with this by shoving these ads at the very end of the book, so the ads do not interrupt the reading experience. However much like all entertainment media, I’ve accepted that there will be “words from our sponsors” no matter what form the media takes. So comic book ad pages are “okay.”

What isn’t okay is DC’s use of 9 pages in the back of each of their books this week to promote the new series “Constantine” and their Channel 52 gimmick. This week I review 3 DC books that explore massive changes to the status quo of their characters. All 3 of these books hooked me in, and I wanted more, but not in the way that left me begging for the next issue.  In a way that left me feeling cheated, and those 9 pages didn’t include the normal ads. There is a reason I’m willing to pay 1.00 more on some of my Marvel titles. Usually the page count is higher or the ads are not as invasive. If DC is going to insist on pushing some of their new books in existing titles, there are better ways to do it than taking up 9 pages that are not being used for ad revenue.  

I really hope after the launch of Constantine this stops because if DC continues to sacrifice pages of actual story so they can push another book or some cheap gimmick (seriously no one is liking Channel 52), then I may be dropping several if not all of their books. This isn’t nerdrage over some character change or story decision, this is based on how much value I’m getting for my dollar. If I want previews, I’ll buy Preview Magazine.   

Okay rant over. Now into the comics!

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By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

The Massive #9
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Garry Brown
Dark Horse

Brian Wood’s post-apocalyptic comic, The Massive completed its first full story arc, and I found it lacking. I love The Massive and it’s been one of the most suspenseful comics I’ve read in a long time. Brian Wood and Garry Brown created a perfect stage for conspiracy and betrayal with Moshka Station and issues 7 and 8 read like a good burlesque performance. They teased the audience with secrets behind the floating utopia. There was a slow reveal of everyone’s personal agendas and then the shocking climax of issue 8, that left the audience craving more. In comparison, issue 9 is like a cheap strip show. Everything is revealed quickly and with little explanation, and then the Kaptial leaves the stage with no fanfare. Mary and Mag’s plan goes into effect without their knowledge when Georg slips off the base and takes over a Chinese nuclear submarine.Where did this submarine come from? We know Mary finds something from the Chinese Military under the station in issue 8 but it is never revealed what. For that matter we never learned what Mary and Mag had planned or just how much Georg knew about Moshka Station, until everything has gone tits up. Callum’s medical condition is revealed and Ryan obtains the data from the Massive’s transponder. Just as the storm lets up, the 9th Wave crew leaves Moshka Station as easily as they boarded it. It was as if the Kapital was in no danger to begin with. I understand the point of this first story arc was to show just how many hidden agendas are at work within 9th Wave and that there really are no safe havens in the Post-Crash world. However, all the suspense that the first two parts built up, fell flat in the final installment. One more issue spent focusing on Mag, Mary, and Georg would have helped since the majority of this story was spent with Callum and the Station Head, Sumon.   

I’m sure that the fallout from this issue will be felt through the next several arcs, but this was a far from satisfying end to a good story. Brian Wood has been in top form with The Massive, and I hope the next arc, “Polaris”, paces itself a lot better than Subcontinental did.   

Overall Rating: 2 of 5 
New Reader Rating: 1 of 5

Womanthology: Space #5
Writers: Barbara Randall Kesel, Allison Pang, Laura Morley, Cecil Castelluci, Kia Kazebee
Artists: Diana Nock, Chrissie Zullo, Sara Richard, Kel McDonald, Isabelle Melancon, Ceili Conwa, Lea Hernandez, Maja Sukelle.
IDW Publishing

Womanthology: Space ends with issue #5 and what an ending it is. The final issue focuses on comets as a theme through out all the stories. As a source of inspiration, a bad omen, and as a mythological figure. All 5 of the contributions have a light-hearted feel to them. “Eccentric Orbit” by Barbara Randall Kesel and Diana Nock tells the story of a girl who’s growth spurt happened before the rest of her friends and how playing the Comet in a school play helped her overcome the bullying of classmates. “The Wind in Her Hair” by Alison Pang and Chrissie Zullo is about a lovelorn Steampunk robot who seeks to reunite with a woman he rescued and has fallen for.   Laura Morley and Sara Richard craft the humorous tale, “In the Dark”, where 2 Ne’er-Do-Wells attempt to recover ill gotten gains while duping the law using folklore involving the moon’s reflection on the river and the passing of a comet. “Broken Glass” is a teen drama involving students of a religious academy who’s minds are focused on ‘doing it’ while their teachers and the church warn them against sexual intercourse during the the passing of a comet through Earth’s orbit. Easily my favorite tale from this issue was, “I Will Return,” by Cecil Castellucci and Kel McDonald. “I Will Return” portrays a star turned comet in the form of a goddess as she races across the universe to meet her one true love, The Sun. I really enjoyed the cohesive nature of this issue. I wish the previous 4 issues had grouped their stories by theme as well. Jumping from a suspenseful story about deep space exploration, to a whimsical tale of 2 young girls building a rocket, to a story about the nature of dying stars felt jarring. Even though there are 5 separate tales here with differing art styles and settings, the common thread of  comets just made this issue read a lot more smoothly.   

Womanthology: Space has been a fun read. While the first 4 issues lacked defining themes that tied their entries together, they were full of some great stories from some of amazing talent that is deserving of more mainstream exposure. Much like Womanthology: Heroic, W:S will have a hardcover collection released via IDW in May. Contact your local comic book shop if you’re interested. I know I will be.  

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
New Reader Rating: 5 of 5

Saga #10
Writer: Brian K Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Image Comics

Saga #10 is full of all the feels, as popular culture would say. The most recent issue has heart-pounding escapes, joyful reunions, and hilariously embarrassing first-time parent moments. I can also tell that Brian K Vaughn (BKV) is trying to move the story into it’s next big chapter since he wraps up a lot of plot threads here. In flashbacks, we see how Alana helped Marko escape prison, and became a couple. Then witness some more bonding between Alana and Barr, while Marko and Klara rescue their phantom baby-sitter, Isabel from the quickly hatching planetoid. That’s right.  Hatching. Last issue we learned that the planet they were exploring was a giant egg that was on the verge of hatching. As the reunited family try to escape, The Will and Gwendolyn arrive. When a writer assembles most of the cast in one place you know something big is going to happen, and it does. I’m not referring to the quickly hatching giant alien planet either. The conflict between The Will’s ship and The Tree Ship results in one of the biggest tragedies of Saga so far. BKV sneaks it in perfectly too, by nestling it in between all of the action and Hazel’s musings about how break-ups can lead to collateral damage that no one ever notices until it’s too late. Then you turn to the last page, and the relation between the battle and hazel’s narration makes perfect sense. The final page hits hard, and makes me tear up even thinking about it. Fiona Staples should win awards for her work on Saga. Not only does she create some amazing aliens and monsters, but she imbues them with a humanity that is scarily real. If you thought the big-testicle troll from a few issues back was impressive, just wait till you see the Time Suck. That troll was nothing in comparison to this creature. For new readers?  This probably isn’t the issue to start with.  There is way too much that requires backstory to understand, and without a proper appreciation for the assembled cast, the cliff-hanger will feel a bit hollow.   

Despite making me cry like a baby, this was another amazing installment of Saga. I can’t wait to see what happens next issue. How does The Will handle the events of the final page? Does Alana and company escape safely from the Time Suck? Where’s Prince Robot? If you haven’t started reading Saga yet, go get on Comixology and start now. You are missing out on one of the best comics of 2012, 2013 and possibly all time.  

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
New Reader Rating: 3 of 5

By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun

Jumping right in!

Batman #17
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Caupullo
DC Comics

I don’t normally read Batman, but considering the mind-bending good story that has been going on in Batgirl (and all the Bat-Books) with the Death of the Family storyline, I figured I might was well see the big punchline that the Joker has been building up to.  Based on some reviews, many angry fans are saying the joke was on them, but I have to disagree.  Death of the Family is one of the best Batman/Joker stories of all time, not just because of how macabre and twisted it was, but because the Joker (kinda) wins.  That’s the only spoiler I’m giving and trust me that is almost not a spoiler at all.  

A quick recap for those not familiar with Death of the Family.  About a year ago, during DC’s new 52 reboot, the Joker is beaten by Batman and captured.  While he is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, he has the villain, Dollmaker, cut his face off.  The Joker was absent for a good while after that.  Death of the Family marked the return of the Joker, and a promise that he would show Batman just how much he needed him.   This crossover involved all of the Bat-Books, and even some that are loosely connected.  The Joker re-emerges with his face strapped to his head in a very grizzly manner.   He then executes specific attacks on all of Batman’s “family” that makes it clear he knows their real identities.  The Joker even goes after his former lover, Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad, and Catwoman in her own book.   His intention was to remove all of the people making Batman weak so things could go back to the way they were.  The Joker and Batman endlessly dancing in a struggle of good vs evil across a burning Gotham.  At the end of each of the bat-books last month, the Joker defeats and captures Batman and his allies, presenting them each with a bloodied covered platter.  

Batman #17 brings all of the stories to a head.  We learn the fate of Alfred, and what is under the platter.   The Joker explains his reasons for all of the attacks, but never really shows his full hand.  Does he really know their identities?  Does he actually care?  Why did he cut off his own face?  The reader will get the answers they have been craving, and then some.   One more small spoiler/hint.  The punchline was in the name of the story all along.   I have to give kudos to Scott Snyder for this one little detail.   When I got to the end of the book, I realized it made total sense.  The “death” of the family.  Beyond that I can’t say much more.

Greg Capullo’s art is flawless.  He is such a perfect fit for Batman, that it isn’t funny.  I enjoyed all the little details he’s included.  The yellowing skin of Joker’s face.  The flies buzzing around.  The 2 headed kitten that Joker carries.  The way his face shifts around when Batman is knocking the Joker about.   I’ve read this issue 3 times now and I always catch one or two more things I never noticed before.   As for Scott Snyder, he has been on fire since issue #1.   I’ve not really been a Batman fan, and the crossovers he’s done has forced me to peek in on the book from time to time.   Scott has long term plans, and after reading how Death of the Family ends, it will be interesting to see just how Batman operates from here on.  In my opinion Bruce comes out of this looking a lot less heroic, and when you read the final few pages, his “family’s” reaction confirms it.   

For new readers, this is not the best stepping on point.  I heavily recommend picking up the Death of the Family collection when it comes out.  There is no word if the other tie-ins will be included, but to get the full impact of the story, it would help to include them.   Especially when you “get” the joke at the very end.   Watching the struggles of Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Red Robin add a lot more gravity to the horror show that the Joker creates.  Ask your local comic shop, or go to Comixology and look for anything that was tied into Death of the Family.

A top notch end for a top notch story.

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
New Reader Rating: 1 of 5

Batgirl #17
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Daniel Sampere
DC Comics

Batgirl #17 takes place shortly after Batman #17.  Ray Fawkes takes over writing duties temporarily for this 2 part story, that introduces us to Batgirl’s own “Joker”, her brother James Gordon Jr.   

The issue starts with Barbara Gordon locating criminals that worked with the Joker during his attacks on the Gotham City Police and The Bat Family.  Fawkes delivers a colder and more brutal Barbara.  One that has been slowly emerging in Gail Simone’s arcs.  Barbara realizes she needs to rest but has to spring into action after several police units were attacked while apprehending the Joker’s goons.  While all this is going on James Gordon Jr begins haunting his family.  He teases Barbara with a phone call, reminding her he knows who she is.  He shows up in his Mother’s hospital room in an attempt to terrorize her, and in an indirect way makes his father’s day harder when the Commissioner makes his arrest a top priority for the GCPD.  Much like Death of the Family, this story seems to center around what James Jr has planned for his family now that he is free.  Unlike the Joker, James Jr is content to use the existing chaos fuel his plans rather than lay out elaborate traps for them.   The issue ends with Batgirl running afoul of the madman attacking the GCPD units, Firebug.  

I was hesitant to like this issue, considering it wasn’t Gail Simone writing, but Fawkes does in one issue what Simone was slowly doing over the course of her run.  He gives Batgirl a villain that defines and challenges her.   We’ve known that James Jr has been lurking in the shadows for sometime now, and trying to weasel his way into his family’s life.  Now he’s making a move while everyone is distracted.  As much as I love Gail Simone, all of the villains she’s had Batgirl face have felt forgettable.  Mirror, Gretyl, Grotesque, and Knightfall all reflected some aspect of Barbara’s past injury she was wrestling with at that time.  At the end of each story, she was able to face her inner demons and beat back the bad-guys.  As her fears and anxieties slipped away so did the danger that the villain presented.  However since the Grotesque story she has been slipping into some darker rage-filled places.  She’s questioning just how far she can slip while dealing out justice.  While this is all great for character development, we never really got a good perspective of how the world was reacting to Batgirl’s return.  Fawkes is giving us that perspective now through the eyes of James Jr.   

My only real gripe about the issue is that it fails to address Batgirl’s current relationship with her other family, the Bat-Family.  All of the other Bat-books have plans to address how the characters are dealing with the Joker’s big punchline in Batman #17.  Batgirl mentions the events of Death of the Family in a few panels but then jumps back into the James Jr story.   Considering the fact that Barbara has spent the past year trying to reconnect and rebuild her reputation as one of The Bats, I would think that some amount of time should have been spent focusing on how she feels now and maybe just what the Joker whispered to her.  Maybe we will get that when Gail Simone returns on issue #19.  The plus side is that new readers will enjoy an issue of Batgirl that exists outside of her head.  There is no mention of her former paralysis, the mysterious operation that restored her, or any events prior to issue #14.  All we know is that she is going after the Joker’s men, her brother is on the loose, and Gotham is safe for no one.  

A perfect starting point for new readers.  

Overall Rating: 3 of 5
New Reader Rating: 4 of 5

See you all next week.   


By Mandy McGee

On this day, Valentine’s Day, what says I love you…er…Star Wars like no other? Bonnie Burton! Watch the video she made for Lucasfilm about Love and Star Wars.Follow her on Twitter @bonniegrrl

By Mandy McGee

I woke up this morning and hopped onto Twitter, like I normally do, and saw a post from Geek and Sundry about them starting a meme. I clicked on the video link not knowing really what I was in for. Then I watched this little gem. 

Then after I sort of recovered from shock I watched it a few more times and laughed my ass off. Then I found another video from two of my favourite Youtubers, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart.

Now I am just waiting for this to become a thing. I would do my own video, but I am not that brave just yet….So come on!!! Make a Harlem Shake video, PEOPLE!!!