Nth Man the Ultimate Ninja. The most 80’s comic ever

One of the more baffling things about comics is what gets released and what doesn’t with regards to collected editions by both Marvel, DC and various other companies. By that I mean you can find the entire run of the champions, a book where Black Widow, Hercules, Ghost Rider, Angel and Ice Man hang out on the west coast of the U.S. but you can not find a collected book of Nth Man, ultimate ninja. I think we can agree, this is a shame.

If you haven’t heard of the Nth Man series, well stop me if you’ve heard this before. Set six months after the start of World War 3, a daring team of American Special Forces land in red square and free John Doe, a U.S. assassin imprisoned after a failed attempt to kill the head of the KGB. He is freed because he is needed to kill his childhood friend Alfie O’Meagan who has wiped out all nuclear weapons, which kick started W.W.3. All that happens in the first issue and while it was cancelled at 16, not the allotted 24 it does cram a lot of action in, and is perhaps one of the most 80’s comics ever.

It features Ninjas, America and the U.S.S.R. at war, time travel and is perhaps one of the more out there comics in existence. It suits the medium perfectly because it of the ability to tell a complete story without needing a huge budget for special effects. Written by my man Larry Hama with art by Ron Wagner and Don Keown it is a thing of beauty, and most issues had a glossary of terms in the back of the book with the letters column. While it does sit outside the normal Marvel Universe some characters do take inspiration from comics, such as Alfie appearing as Galactus, and John Doe’s mentor’s ninja outfit looks like Storm Shadow’s urban cammo job.

The fact that it doesn’t have a collected edition is sad but not really surprising. It only lasted 16 out of the allotted 24 issues which does tend to make a comic company cautious about releasing older books. The first volume of the Suicide Squad by John Ostrander was considered a flop and the fact that we are getting more volumes is I suspect due to the movie coming out and increasing demand. I mean if Peter David’s X-factor has stalled at volume 2, what chances does a cult comic from the 80’s have. In fact Peter David’s X-factor is a fantastic comic and the fact there isn’t a collected edtion volume 3 is a crying shame.

That said, if Marvel does every decide to print the entirety of Nth Man: Ultimate Ninja I’ll write the intro for free, as long as you promote my comics.


Secret Wars reviews 2015 review

One thing that can be said about Jonathon Hickman is that he doesn’t do small stories. If you read his run on the Fantastic Four you’d know he plans for the long term, creating and weaving big stories that all come together with a fantastic ending. The same can be said about Secret Wars (2015). The unfortunate problem is, if you’re starting there, then you’ll only be getting half the story, and that’s half the problem really.

As much as Secret Wars is a great story, if you haven’t read any of the Avengers or New Avengers books written by Hickman, then you’ll be missing parts of the story. It’s not quite as reader friendly as Marvel would’ve hoped it would be, unlike some of their other events out there. True, event comics don’t just happen over night and there does need to be ground work laid out, but if the ground work involves 40 odd issues of comics, then you may have a problem on your hands. Yes they were decent comics, but at the same time it’s still 40 issues of prologue to get the whole picture of Secret Wars. But that doesn’t answer the question of is it any good?

On the whole, it is a rather interesting tale, with the tie ins providing the real meat of the expanded universe, of which there are a lot. Every major alternate universe that was part of the Marvel Universe is hear, Marvel Zombies, Age of Apocalypse, Ultimate Universe etc and if you were a fan of those titles, then there is a lot to enjoy here. There is a lot of fun to be had with the tie in books, of which there is some thing for every one. So if nothing else, the tie ins were pretty rad.

Another aspect to consider is how you find Jonathan Hickman’s writing style. As a great as he is, he can be an acquired taste. If you’ve read his amazing run on the Fantastic Four book, then you’ll know what to expect. As a stand alone event, I want to say it’s worth reading, because it is, but if you don’t have the time to read the previous Avengers/ new Avengers books then you might be better off skipping Secret Wars 2015. It’s like starting Justified at season 6, you can do it, but you’re missing out on much of the story.

To be perfectly honest, as it was Mr Hickman’s fair well from Marvel, you couldn’t expect a better way to send the man off. Given free reign over two flagship titles which lead to a sprawling 9 issue event comic in which multiple threads you wrote all get tied up in the end, well I couldn’t think of a better gift to a great writer.

Marvel Avengers Alliance is shutting down

So the big news if you followed the facebook game of Marvel’s Avengers Alliance is that it’ll be shutting down at the end of September. If you haven’t played the game then it’s no big deal because such things happen all the time, but for me it’s a pretty big deal because I’d been playing it since it started four years ago. To be honest this did shock me, because after 4 years I had spent a lot of time on this game, but to be perfectly honest and looking back I’m not that surprised that it is ending now.

If you’re not familiar with the game, you had a list of Heroes and villains you could purchase and use in missions of turn based combat, which I always enjoy. The idea of people waiting for their turn to attack while getting punched amuses me. They had chapters with 6 missions in them, and each mission had a series of tasks to complete. Season 2 was where the most fun was at, with heroic battles and incursion and interesting villains to fight against. There would also be some PvP tournaments to win new heroes and Specail Operations to unlock new heroes. The game was stacked with features.

But again perhaps that might have been the problem. The chapters were where the real meat was, an over arching story weaving multiple comic themes together and it was great, but there would be months in which no new chapters would be released, which does hurt the momentum of the story. Delays do happen, but if it takes months to bring out the next chapter, then people will lose interest. PVP tournaments to win characters is all well and good, but with PvP being between two camps of people, those willing to spend money and those who aren’t, you can see why some aren’t that excited about it. Spec Ops are fine, but there was also a certain pressure to unlock them and they also felt a bit like a band aid to the overall problem. Plus the old chest nut that it isn’t really welcoming to new players who didn’t want to spend money was also true.

The game itself was fine, but nothing memorable and I honestly just had it on the back ground as I surfed the internet on my PC. But as shocked as I was that it was ending, I couldn’t say I was surprised. The game had run it’s course, and as I said with my Batman review that none of you read so I’ll repeat it here, after you feature the end of the world as your main story point, where do you go from there? And with half the Marvel U already appearing, there were very little heroes you could feature that people would want to play as. I mean personally, Machine Man Aaron Stack appearing would’ve been great, as would have MACH X but considering Machine Man is a niche character, I’m not surprised he didn’t make the cut.

While we could bemoan the fact it’s ending, the honest truth is I got four years out a game I didn’t have to pay one cent to play and honestly that was a great deal. Am I sad the game is finishing up? Of course, but I honestly think this is the best time to end it. Things can’t go on forever and it’s time to move on. So thank Marvel Avengers Alliance Developers for giving me 4 years of fun, frustration and the ability to fight alongside my favourite heroes.

Suicide squad Vs Critics.

Having seen Suicide Squad, I don’t really get all the hate. I didn’t mind it, but there are parts I’m not happy with that I would change. The tone is all over the place, with some funny scenes mixed with some gritty ones and while it’s not a complete mess that some critics believe it is, it’s fair from perfect. The problem may be in the kick arse trailer that got everyone’s attention, promising a fun light handed romp instead of the overly dark movie we got. Will Smith is great as Deadshot, pulling off a costume that makes sense of paper but is one of the more difficult to portray on screen. Margot Robbie is great as Harley Quinn, in fact all of them are fairly decent with their roles.

The squad itself is a weird mix of supervillains, some part of either the classic line up or the current one and I do feel bad for Adam beach’s Slipknot, who has very little screen time. Is it the line up I would’ve picked? No, but then I don’t get to write movies for living and each character I guess gets one special moment to shine. As for Jared Leto’s Joker, while that problem is worth unpacking. Apparently a lot of his scenes were cut, which is a shame because he delivers a creepy version of the Joker. Yes it’s not Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker but with 75 odd years of Batman we are allowed to have different takes on the Joker.

So what did I think of it? It’s a bit of a mess, but I enjoyed most of it. Is it the worst movie I’ve seen? No, once you seen “The Room” you’ll be more forgiving of films. The thing with the Squad is that there is a great movie in there some where just trying to burst free and it’s a shame that what we got is still good, but fair shorter then what I was expecting.

As for critics, well I get what they’re saying but I think they’re going about things in the wrong way. Being a critic is giving an opinion and you don’t have to share that opinion. That’s fine. But to attack some one for sharing that opinion is kind of wrong, which some fans have begun to do. I for one am glad that no body has been so incensed with that I wrote that they’d send me a threatening e-mail. But on the flip side, being a critic doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about things.

Even if I don’t like some thing (and that does happen) I always try to find some good in it. It’s not really healthy to hate on every thing for minor problems or just be overly critical because that’s a great way to lose ones enjoyment in things and turn it into a job that isn’t very fun. Yes a critics job is to critique things, that’s the idea, but the flip side of that is if you’re just being negative for the sake of being negative then you’re perhaps gone to far.

But again, just because some one says some thing you like is bad doesn’t make it so. If you like it, that’s great, and if they don’t that’s okay too. Not every one is going to like or enjoy the same things as you. Take it from some one who thinks the Howard The Duck is one of the greatest things ever. If I got into an argument over that, well it would be the first time that happened but still you know what I mean. Just agree to disagree and leave it at that, no need to hurl abuse around on the internet of a disagreement over a rating.

Reinventing Deathstroke + Deathstroke rebirth 1 review

So Deathstroke, what is his deal. Ultra badass mercenary in the DC universe. The Anti-Batman if you will, where a rich man fights good by becoming a merc for hire. The prototype for Deadpool. But lately his comic has been well, not the greatest. Since the Nu 52 as the kids call it, Deathsstroke has been given the chance to shine in one of the few villains to get a solo title, due to the fact I guess he isn’t oturight evil in some cases, and is just evil for hire. His first run was a bit of a mess. The first 8 issues was rather interesting, and dealt with Deathstroke going through a midlife crisis of sorts.

And you know what? It was fairly decent as well, and dealt with consequences of ones actions. Was it violent? Heck yeah it was, with one person even getting a broken Jack Daniels bottle stuck in their eye. It was perhaps too violent. After that, things derailed with Lobo fighting Slade, and then some confusing nonsense with Slade’s children coming back to life and a former boss trying to kill him. The new series was more streamlined, but just as silly.

Slade becomes young again after an attack left him so badly beaten he needed to call I-Ching in for help. Some one is targeting his son and daughter and it turns out it’s his father, who is trying to take over the world using a cult or some thing. It’s a bit of a mess story wise but the fights are impressive and well paced, the fight with batman is rather impressive in terms of pacing and art work, it just lacks a certain some thing. The lastest arc, where some one kills his daughter Rose just goes on and on with no clear direction, as if it was spinning wheels waiting for the Rebirth to happen. It’s not bad, but it just feels to take for ever with little pay off.

With Deathstrokes rebirth coming hope I am hoping to get a decent take on the character. He sort of falls into the Lex Luthor category, some one who could be good if they put their mind to it but choose not to, for various reasons. In fact the more interesting take on Deathstroke could be him being challenged to make the world a better place but not murdering everyone inside of it. I mean it’s not really the most original story line, considering Captain Cold and Lex Luthor did it themselves, but it’ll add a layer to a character who is famous for the amount of ass he can kick, which is a lot.

Deathstroke’s is part of the new Rebirth line up and I have to say, it’s a lot better then the previous versions. Written by  Slade’s return to old age has been hand waived away and we see a deadlier version. When who isn’t incumbent with family ties, but a strong moral code of the contract. It’s violent but good, and it’s what Deathstroke should be. If you’re a fan of the character you may not be disappointed. As it stands, this is back to basics. Is it ground breaking, not really but is it fine? Yes it is.

How to cope when your favourite comic is ending.

This week, I shed a tear for Howard the Duck, whose comic which has brought me such great joy is ending soon. The fact that we even got a Howard comic since 2015 is surprising, considering if it wasn’t for that cameo in that movie were a human teams up with two green people, a talking tree and raccoon and fight space Thor at the end, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Yes Guardians of the Galaxy is responsible for Howard the Duck getting another comic, but it was the strength of Chip Zdarksy and Joe Quinones that made it the awesome comic it is. But with Chip confirming the comic is ending, rather than being cancelled, which is a bit of a semantic case the fact is that a Howard the Duck comic only has a limited shelf life.

I’m as big of a Howard mark as the next guy but truth be told it’s mostly because of Chip’s handle on the character, and how he wrote the loveable mallard, but I’d be hard pressed to admit that there is 50 plus issues of story that could be told. At the end of the day, he’s still a talking duck and that is difficult to fit into most stories. I mean when you already have the Avengers flying around or a guy with a painted on skull killing fools, it’s hard to take Howard seriously. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great comic and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. But my point is there are only so many tales you can tell with Howard before you start to repeat because he is such a niche character in the Marvel U, and outside character studies, which Chip is doing, it’s best to limit his appearances.

So if you’re new to comics there will always be sadness when your favourite comic has ended. How do you you fill the void left by such a comic? Well you could always read the series again, from start to finish either in single issue or trade form. That way the series lives on, fresh in your mind. You could always try other books by the creators. Maybe it was the art work or the writer that drew you to the book, and you could perhaps look into other books that they have worked on.

Or use the time to discover new and exciting books. Find a character or setting you really dig and try that. You like Romeo and Juliet, but wished it contained more sci fi elements including a cat that could detect when people lied? Try Saga! Love zombies but wished they had more super heroes in there? Try Marvel Zombies! Want to start reading G.I.Joe because I won’t shut up about how great it is? For the older marvel books, you can start here, for the start of the IDW series, start here or for a kick arse take on Cobra, start here.

The sad part is, collecting and reading comics can be a crap shoot. What may start out as a solid idea, “A group of villains team up to commit crimes” may sound good in paper but doesn’t often translate into sales for what ever reason. Poor choice of opening story, luckluster reaction to a niche character. Market saturation. Some times a book just reaches it’s natural conclusion and to go on would be trying to wring water from an already dry towel. Rejoice that for a time, some one decided that there really ought to be a title of your favourite character out there, and for what ever reason, it just sadly didn’t work.

Am I sai Howard is leaving us? Of course I am, it was one of my favourite books of the past year, I took a chance on a weird, niche character and walked away with a really awesome book that I love talking about, much to delight of no one. Books get cancelled all the time, and while it is sad, it’s part of the publishing process. So enjoy your favourite books while you can and give support to the creators who write them. You’ll never know when they might be cancelled.

An idea for the G.I.Joe video game we deserve.

I think we can all agree I’d have a better chance of getting Emily Browning to have a chai latte with me then being asked to consult on a G.I.Joe video games, because as much as I claim to be the foremost G.I.Joeologist in the world, G.I.Joe is about as popular these day as Nickleback. Sure you’ll get people who’ll enjoy it, but they wouldn’t call themselves a fan. Considering the best G.I.Joe video game we have right now is a tap game where Snake Eyes beats up red ninjas who throw themselves at him, it’s time as fans to say we demand better.

While the most popular idea would be a Snake Eyes third person hack and slash game like the Deadpool video game that came out some years the idea of havong a silent commando soldier who is also ninja trained be the focal point of your game is a great idea on paper but an interesting story it doesn’t really make. I mean the only sick burns that Snakes Eyes can give is with a flame thrower, which now that I think about it, would be kind of cool. No, the game we want would be an FPS in the vain of Call of Duty.

Before you roll your eyes so hard they fall out of their sockets at the mere mention of Call of Duty, the series had at one point been known for it’s combination of exciting set pieces and for having a good story mode. Modern Warfare 1 for example was a high point in the series for example, having exciting set pieces that didn’t betray a narative. The question is, who shall the game be about and the answer to that is Mercer. For those who don’t know, and judging by G.I.Joe’s popularity means there is a lot of you, Mercer is the only Cobra agent to join the G.I.Joe field team, and while had hadn’t shown up in the Marvel/IDW main book, his presence has been felt in other books and cartoons.

Mercer is the best place to start with regards to story telling, because you can frame it as a story of redemption. The first 5 or so missions would be Mercer working along side say, Major Blood, Blacklight and Firefly, while catching glimpses of Baroness, Destro, Zartan and Cobra Commander. He’d start off as an angry young man who joined Cobra to make a difference in the world, and over the first couple of missions he rises in rank and responsibilities before being asked to stage a war crime and refusing. He’s arrested and comes to the aid of the G.I.Joe soldier Stalker, who is rescued by Scarlett and Snake Eyes and asks to come with them, explaining he knows the layout of the base.

He then asks to work with the Joes, not only as an informant but wants to go on missions with them to prove he’s left Cobra and to cripple them for turning him into a monster. These would take the from of hunting down former Cobra operatives while they’re on their own missions or acts of sabotage, such as destroying Terror Dromes etc. Over the course of the remaining missions you get cameos from famous joes such as Shipwreck, Roadblock and fight along side them while redeeming yourself in your own eyes before becoming a fully fledged member of the Joe team.

The Muliplayer would be fairly robust, with an option of using levels based off classic G.I.Joe locals, such as Castle Destro, The Pitt, either 1,2 or 3 the silent Castle etc. Character skins could be unlocked as you progress up and the DLC practically writes itself. If we are going to get an engaging G.I.Joe game, we could do a lot worse then the idea I’ve put forward. Just as long as it’s not another Battleground, thing could hardly be called a game.

Wild Blue Yonder: Comics to film/ Random Brain Dead thoughts

Wild Blue Yonder was a comic produced from IDW that was difficult to love. Numerous delays diminished what ever impact the book would’ve had, because it’s hard to like a book when it takes 3-4 months to produce any issues. In fact I had it one my pull lists and I didn’t even know it was completed until I picked up the trade some time ago, which is a shame because the book was rather strong, and quite cinematic. Wild Blue Yonder is set in an apocalyptic world in which the world is dying and people retreated up into the skies, flying around on barges hunting down the one solar powered ship that never needs to refuel and thus can stay afloat indefinitely, called “The Dawn”.

The book, by creators Mike Raicht, Zach Howard and Austin Harrison has a lot of heart and is quite cinematic with its lush back grounds, which would make for a great setting for a movie. The characters are a little one dimensional, but they at least feel like real people. The plot has The Dawn on the run from various sky pirates most notably “The Executioner ” and it’s commander the Judge, a hard ass who is determine to capture his prize. Think of it as Moby Dick in the future, with the white whale replaced with a solar powered airship and you’re half way there.

The action is intense and thrilling, with jet fighters dog fighting other fighters while people wearing Jet Packs are trying to stop the enemy fighters. Is it the most Original idea anyone has ever had? Depends. Most ideas have already been done, and thus is different enough to make things interesting. It has a good premise, good characters and strong action. It’ll be a movie I’d check out.

Brain dead is currently airing right now and I have to say it’s a perplexing show. It’s about a group of senators in the US who have been had their brains taken over by an alien species, and so far, only a handful of people know what the problem is. On one side I have to give them credit for trying some thing new. It’s a drama that isn’t about hospitals or police and it can be interesting to watch some times. But that said, it’s not funny enough to be a comedy and not scary enough to be a horror. It’s a show that doesn’t quite understand what it wants t be. But hey, the episode re-cap is a folksy song so that is pretty cool.It gets props for being different, which helps it stands out. But until it’s sure what it wants to be, it will always struggle.

Ryan Browne is a genius, and you should read his books.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I like my humour weird. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie, as I highly regard Veep to be one of the greatest comedies ever, but I also enjoy Arrested Development and that is about as far from “standard” comedy one can get. Off in the fringes of comedies that are also brilliant is Garth Merengies Dark Place, a TV show intentionally bad set n a hospital and Danger 5, a super low budget comedy about a super group of 5 agents who team up to take down Hitler. In the first season, when ever some one was mortally wounded, they would often give out a perfect cocktail recipes. So you know, standard stuff.

If you’ve found yourself nodding along in agreement to these comedy choices and wondered if there was a comic book equivalent of said TV shows, then you’re in luck hypothetical reader, because I have just the recommendation for you. Ryan Browne, is a comic writer and artist who produced a series with Image comics called “God Hates Astronauts” which is difficult to explain just what it is about, because it won’t make sense and it’s better read fresh.

But what about the comedy, and how weird is it I hear you ask over your Carlos Sultana cocktail, while it’s not as weird as Tim and Eric, but it is weird, but it does have it’s own sense of logic. The second volume is where the story really gets going. It’s a series in which almost any thing can happen, from a cat wearing a jetpack who is also a lawyer, to a man with Gorilla Arms, to a Rhino with a moustache called Doctor Professor and a character called King Tiger eating a Cheeseburger, who is a king that is a tiger eating a cheeseburger.

If that isn’t crazy enough, he also has another book worth tracking down called “Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief” which again, is as crazy as G.H.A., but still full of heart. The book often goes off on tangents and while, it may not be as strong as some other books in terms of narative structure, it’s still a very funny book. Some characters are basically puns, like Owl Capone, who is a mobster, to Gnarles Winslow, who is based off Carl Winslow from family matter, but he has robot arms now. One major difference to a Ryan Browne book is that there is a list of suggested voices you can use to make the characters stand out in your head, from John C. Reily for Star Grass for example. It does the make the book better for it.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men or even “shudders” The King of Queens, there is little you will enjoy in the books I’ve mentioned. If you’re looking for some thing different, and are willing to take a risk, then you could do worse then checking out either of Ryan Browne’s books.

Howard the Duck v 1 review (not to be confused with volume 0)

The record will show that I love Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones version of Howard the Duck pretty clearly. In fact, as I have stated before, if you asked me 4 years ago what my current favourite comics would’ve been, I think we can all agree that Howard The Duck wouldn’t of been in the top 30 at all, and yet here we are. So should you by the latest Howard the Duck trade? The answer, unsurprisingly is yes, yes you should. It’s funny, it’s sad and it’s amazing and generally speaking, the best thing we could’ve asked for. Here is why you should read Howard the Duck.

The story is emotionally hard hitting: The book starts off with an interesting idea, that being a talking Duck in the Marvel universe kind of sucks. People think he is an Alien and don’t treat him with respect. So Howard just wants to go home, which is fairly common with his book, but really that’s the entire theme of this book. Which ties in with the main plot of the book which is Howard gets the Living Nexus grafted to his body. All Howard wants to do is to leave this universe and go back home so he travels to Florida and tries to use the Nexus which unknowlingly gets grafted to his body.

Living Nexus, for those who don’t know is a portal basically that can take a person where ever they want to go. This makes him the most wanted Duck in the universe, with various Alien races, The Kree etc all coming after poor Howard. But even when he gets a chance to slip away, he knows that he can’t, as he has bonded with the Nexus, it is still apart of him and thus he will never have a quiet life again.

So with this serious matter the question remands is it a funny book? The answer to that is yes it is. Yeah humour is subjective but the book is really funny, or as funny as a book about a 4 foot tall talking duck can be. I won’t post any of the jokes, as to not ruin them, but just trust me on this. Chip manages to weave humour and heart throughout the story, with out getting too bogged in either camp. Chip Zdarksy’s wonderfully managed to walk the fine line either camp which can be difficult to pull off, as too many jokes undercuts the seriousness of the story and too few jokes makes for a rather dull read. In fact if you don’t get even a little choked up reading issue 2, then you most be a robot, or a future person who has stumbled upon this blog who has hd their empathy bred out of them and i am sorry that has happened to.

At the end of the day, it’s a book with a lot of heart and warmth. What could’ve been a crass money making ploy by Marvel has turned into one of the most heartfelt books on the stands. How can you not love Howard, his life is a mess, and yet he just keeps going on. We all have a little bit of Howard in us. Yeah he’s an annoying Duck, but that’s the point. How can you not when you’re the only talking duck around with no powers in a world where there Norse Gods and living WMDs. He shows us that even the littlest person (or duck) can still off and make a difference. He doesn’t want to help, but he knows he has to.

Howard the book, volume 1, not to be confused with volume 0 gets a hearty recommendation from me. It’s a brilliant book made even better thanks to the great crossover with Squirrel Girl.