Category: Comic Geekery

Bangor Geeks Represented For Third Year

As you can see, the Bangor Comic & Toy Convention did not disappoint. This year I decided to have some fun and treat it less like a vending opportunity and more like attending a con with a permanent bench. Chris MacMillan, the organizer of BCTC continues to put on a great show that mixes a diverse set of interests from superheroes to anime, to MTG to consoles, and wrestlers to cosplayers. I continue to be amazed that hiding not too far from my hometown in rural Maine, there are geeks waiting for a chance to break out their costumes and delve into a world of storytelling, art, and collectibles.

Like last year, I was seated next to Amanda Kahl, a long time friend, illustrator, and graphic novelist. We had the opportunity to geek out, talk shop, and bounce ideas off one another. Unlike last year, I was smart and brought back up, a friend from my University of Maine Farmington days, Dan Johnston came and sat with me. Unfortunately, his iron will isn’t quite the same and he found himself victim to the amazing baubles of several vendors. I do have to admit, he scored some amazing artwork I’m a little jealous of.

The best part of it isn’t just meeting new fans, but seeing familiar faces for the second year in a row. I had multiple people say, “Loved your last book, gonna grab your two new ones.” I’m a bit more secure with signing books, well, at least until they ask for a personal message and then I just turn into an idiot. I had the chance to talk to hopeful writers and even a young man in the prime of his grade school years telling me about his awesome comic book adventures. Really, how much more happy can a guy get when he’s staring at a mini version of himself thirty years ago.

A special thanks has to go out to Chris MacMillan for putting on the BCTC. I’m glad I have a place near home where I can sell books and take in the geek culture, but it’s something much bigger than that. Growing up in a small town in northern Maine, we read our comics in the comfort of our rooms and felt a little shame about chasing down super villains with our heroes. Now, decades later, geekdom is marked with pride and you can’t help but think there is a new generation of creators being made because of this exposure. So thanks, for me, and the soon-to-be’s.


Logan – No Post Credit Scene (No Spoilers)

When the superhero genre is filled with over the top special effects and relies on the powers of its cast, Logan is a quiet movie focusing instead on the story of a man out-of-place and past his prime. When you’re a soldier without a war, and what you do best is kill, what does the world have left for you?

I’m not a fan of Wolverine in the comics. Much like Superman, his powers have been seen in a capacity that makes him Godlike and we lose the potential to fear for the character. Torn in half, decimated by a nuke, even the lost of his razor claws have done little more than slow him. Logan however quickly grounds us, bringing us into a world not far off in the future and with a character who is past his prime and barely surviving.

The story is loosely adapted from Old Man Logan, and fans of the series knew it would be altered due to property licensing. What we were given is story about a washed up mutant, trying to protect the one man who has always supported him. When a woman appears in his life claiming he has a daughter, Xavier, ever the headmaster, wants to see the child to safety. Logan on the other hand, he is an old man stuck in his ways, seeing the possibility for loss, tries to stick to his loner ways.

Tucked away in an abandoned mining silo, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier spends time caught between a man losing his mind and the sagely professor. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman have a bond throughout this film that reminds us their lives have been interconnected for the last seventeen years. In heartfelt speeches and moments of tenderness between them, we see Logan’s regard and respect for the only man who has ever been a father to him. The movie goes to the extent of having them join another family for dinner to drive home the point. Sitting around a dinner table telling stories of their adventures in thinly veiled disguises, we see people, not heroes.

Similar to barn scene in Avengers 2, where we meet Hawkeye’s family, the characters are given a moment to be human. The scene is interrupted, as is the life of a superhero, but for a good long time, we are left with thought-provoking questions, something the genre is not known for giving us. What lengths would I go to protect my family? Could I be a father? Would I find commonalities with those different than me? What if my child was “different?” How does the most powerful mind feel about the fragility of his body? Will the world remember me when I’m gone?

While the movie features Hugh Jackman’s title character, a role he has grown and expanded to new layers of complexity, it is Patrick Stewart who steals every scene. Having killed hundreds of people with his telepathy as a seizure erupted and he lost control, we’re given a man whose strongest attribute is slowly failing him. Having already lost the use of his legs, we’ve always found comfort in him being able to step outside his body and move freely with his telepathy. Wrapped in self-doubt, grief, and blame for the atrocities he has caused, we see a man with no legacy, a man who tried to change the world and failed. His own mind has turned against him, and we understand his frailty. And while this sounds gut wrenching, we find ourselves often laughing at his old crotchety nature and the sharp jabs he gives to Logan. The playful Patrick Stewart we’ve grown to love, the one wearing matching outfits with Sir Ian McKellen also has a strong presence. I find myself frequently wondering where the role ended and where the actor began?

I should also include Dafne Keen for her role as Laura. X-23 is a complicated character because she simply does not understand who or what she is. Manufactured for war, she is the biological daughter of Wolverine, but has never known a father. While Logan’s mythos is wrapped in mystery from the fateful day within WeaponX, Laura has been bred for war. Watching her fight is amazing, probably the best choreographing I’ve seen in years, but it’s the moments in which she lets down her guard and becomes a child that we connect with her.  She matches Logan in intensity, rage, fighting, and even comical moments, the pair together were magnificent in being reflections of one another, a true father/daughter dynamic.

I can continue to gush, and remind people that in the 70 years of comics we’ve read, we’ve grown to love the people more than the powers. We see momentary glimpses to the young cigar smoking Canuck, but more than that, we see the story of a man who is ready to say goodbye.

Since 2000, I have had the opportunity to watch my passion play out in front of me. For good or for bad, I have been along for the ride. Seventeen years I’ve watched Hugh Jackman play my angry uncle and Patrick Stewart play my second father. While I am sad to see them leave, they are giving the characters the farewells they deserve.

Now, we wait for the Next Generation.

As the title says, there is no post credit scene. I spent a good chunk of the movie trying to figure out where the next movie (even if not starring Hugh Jackman) would come into play? Would X-23 assume the mantle and have a movie of her own? Do we see the potential of the New Mutants? When the screen remained blank, I felt cheated. It took me time to process this, but overall, I’m content that there is no continuance. Fox set out to say farewell to the characters and the moment I realized they were gone, I came to grips with what type of story this was. No “to be continued,” simply a story of a man’s last actions.


A Month of Comic Geekdom In Review

What happens when twenty-three authors and artists share a love of comics? You get a month long event of amazing unique perspectives about the comics that shaped them in their youth and continue to shape them. From social commentary, to fandoms, to geeking out, I had an amazing time reading these articles and finding people who share my passion for illustrated stories. If you missed a story, here’s a recap of the last month.

Watchmen: A Darkness Witnessed in the Heart of Men by Jeremy Flagg
Extraordinary Assaults by Jeff Deck
Gold Age of Comic Book Movies by Thomas S Flowers III
The Resurrection of “Street Level” Heroes by Errick Danger Nunnally
Modern Heroes: Where Myth Meets Reality by Joshua Guess
Reality & Continuity, Or Why 9/11 Reveals Some Insights About Live-Action Superheroes by Lance Eaton
The Folly of Subcultural Gatekeeping, or WWXD? by Amanda Kahl
Once Upon a Time, We Were All Kitty Pryde of the X-Men by Jeremy Flagg
I get it, but it’s still okay to love Superman! by Eddie Jakes
Necessary Evils by Steve Van Samson
Again with the Superheroes?! A friendly, Well-Intentioned Rant. by Angi Shearstone
X-tinction Agenda, An Arc to End All Arcs by Jennifer Allis Provost
Escapism in Comics by Thomas Washburn Jr.
In a World of Heroes be the Purrfect Villainess by Cameron Garriepy
For the Love of Long Form Storytelling by Chris Duryea
Comics Aren’t Just for the Boys: Girl Power by Amanda Pazzanese Minaker
What Comics Taught Me by Chris Philbrook
Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Not a Hero Because of Powers by E.J. Stevens
Adventures in Babysitting, But More Mutants by Trisha Wooldridge
They call him DOOM by James A. Moore
What’s with all the Nipples? Female Sexualization in Comics by April Hawks
Son of The Demon – The Batman the DCEU Needs by Martin Campbell
Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie by Max Bowen


Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie

Over the past decade, comics have made the big transition from the printed page to the silver screen. It hasn’t been a flawless leap, and there are a few productions that I think we as a people wish had never seen the light of day [cough, Fantastic Four, cough]. Truly, it’s a great time to be a nerd, when one of the cornerstones of geek subculture has now become part of the mainstream, and it’s a little less cool to say that you know who Wolverine is.

But here’s the problem: Wolverine’s one of the few we know. In an industry with a dearth of possible stories, we’ve seen five Spider-Man movies, six starring the X-Men, and countless Avengers titles. While more are planned, it doesn’t look like the theatrical roster is going to expand by too much. So, I decided to throw my two cents and comprise a list of characters, some from Marvel and others from different companies, that I think deserve their own movie.

Regarded as a C-List hero that gets to occasionally team up with the big boys, Darkhawk has in fact saved the entire world and gone toe-to-toe with some of the heavy-hitters of the Marvel Universe [the guy was part of the Infinity Crusade, I think that at least moves him to B+ List]. His back story starts out like many heroes—as a kid, Chris Powell basically fell into his powers, after he used an alien amulet to transform into an android powerhouse.

Unlike many, his course to heroism was somewhat erratic. His mentors include Venom and The Punisher, folks whose idea of due process is a deciding whether to skin the bad guys alive or just cave in their skulls. It’s no surprise that he’s questioned the wisdom of leaving the bad guys in one piece.

Now, let’s talk powers—Darkhawk has enough for two characters. Super strength, an energy shield, a force blast, flight, even some kind of nightmare face that terrifies anyone he looks at. Yeah, his outfit makes him look like a cyberpunk Power Ranger, but he makes it work.

Multiple Man
Jamie Madrox’s own powers have tried to kill him. There, I think that’s all I need to say.

What? I need to do more. Fine, fine….

Madrox is a mutant with the power to create a duplicate of himself through physical impact. Basically, you punch him and get two to fight with. Have fun with that. He’s a member of X-Factor, a government -run mutant team because sure, the government has always had the best interests of mutants at heart.

Despite some questionably judgment in allegiences, Madrox has proven himself a hero time and again. The guy can make as many duplicates as he needs, and as far as I know, there’s no limit to this ability. He’s basically a one-man army. More than that, he can see, hear, and experience anything his copies do. Send one to infiltrate a Hydra base, but he gets killed? No worries, Madrox Prime [as he’s sometimes referred to] saw everything he needs to stop their fiendish plan.

But that’s not all! He can learn anything his copies learn just by absorbing them back into his body. He once sent a copy to spend years learning martial arts, then gained all the skills in a moment. If he gets hurt in battle, drawing the copies back into himself can heal his wounds. It’s actually a wonder that he bothers being part of a team.

Mice Templar
OK, this would be likely be multiple films, but the premise is amazing: infusing Celtic and Norse legends to tell a tale of destiny, revenge, and war. On the surface this seems like standard Disney fare: an army of mice taking on the evil rat empire, but the similarity ends very quickly. And very, very bloody

While this certainly has the potential to be a good animated series, let’s just say the parental warning would be high for this one. It’s about as gory as the movie Braveheart, and has a complex, ever-evolving story that follows a young mouse named Karic, someone who wants absolutely nothing to do with the destiny thrust upon him as a great savior, only agreeing once he sees that he’s the only thing saving his kind from complete annihilation. So, no pressure, right?

A lesser-known member of the second incarnation of the New Mutants, Tattoo isn’t actually a mutant, and has no powers that are his and his alone. Instead, he employs a mutant tattoo artist, whose gift allows him to make any ink he draws a power. Draw the biohazard sign on your hand: congrats, you can now broadcast the plague to anyone around you. A set of wings on your heels: heads up, you can fly. Hell, the guy even gave himself the powers of the Phoenix. Yeah, the same one that decimates worlds for fun. That Phoenix.

To be fair, Tattoo isn’t a real hero, and only gives himself these powers for his own gain, but when the chips are down, he steps up and does the right thing, even when that “right thing” puts him in a coma.

Max Bowen founded Citywide Blackout five years ago to support and promote Boston’s music scene. The show has grown significantly over the years, with many different co-hosts bringing their distinct personalities, experience, and expertise to the table. This show wouldn’t exist if not for their hard work.

Today, Citywide Blackout airs on WEMF every Thursday at 9 p.m. with co-hosts Matt Zappa and Tom Crossman. The show shines the spotlight on musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, and much more.

In addition, Max is a regular contributor to The Noise Magazine, which covers the Boston music scene through live show and CD reviews and in-depth articles. He has worked as a journalist for Gatehouse Media for the last 10 years. Today, he’s the editor of the Westwood Press and Medfield Press newspapers.


Son of The Demon – The Batman the DCEU Needs

Growing up I was always intrigued by comics. I loved the idea of combining art with words and felt a euphoric high as my eyes digested every page I turned. I could not mow enough lawns as a young man to keep up with my obsession for the dazzling covers and intriguing storylines being printed for my enjoyment. It was even upon the pages of a comic that I found my first crush, T
he Enchantress. Thor #491 was my introduction to this wonderfully disastrous goddess who intrigued my attention with her cunning cleverness and mystique. Unfortunately for me, The Enchantress was obsessed over the thunder god himself, something I, as a mere mortal man could not possibly compete with.

In all honesty, as a young man, I exclusively read only Marvel comics. This was the case not because I was trying to shun DC, but because where I grew up in Northern Maine, the internet was a foreign concept at the time and outlets to purchase comics were non-existence. Truth was, I had to walk a half mile to my neighbor’s house where he would give me a stack of comics every couple weeks. He had a subscription to a handful of Marvel comics and after he read them, he passed them along to me.

As much as I loved reading about Thor, The Hulk, Captain America and other of my neighbors’ favorites, I found myself itching for something new. While visiting the local library with my uncle, as he was looking for a couple new movies to check out, the librarian started striking up a conversation with me. I told her how I didn’t read much, mostly comics. I inquired if the library had any, she promptly shook her head no. But as she was shaking her head no, it was clear a couple thoughts began rolling around in her head. She scurried into a backroom and after a few seconds came out with three comics in her hand. “These were donated along with a box full of books the other day, here you take them,” she said handing them to me.

Those three comics were my introduction to Batman, not the cartoon character that I had seen during Saturday mornings, not the Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer movie renditions but the Mike W. Barr/Jerry Bingham version. Yes, the three comics the librarian bestowed upon my possession happen to be Son of the Demon, Birth of the Demon and Bride of the Demon, which is a trilogy revolving around the relationship between Batman and The League of Shadows. Over the next couple weeks, I must have read those three comics a dozen times, engrossed by the engagingly complex storyline. The comic was darker, more meaningful and gave me an in-depth look at a superhero unlike I had yet to read.

For those who have not read The Demon trilogy (which the comics are known as), it is a must. I won’t give away the details as I think everyone should experience the story unfold in front of their eyes for the first time in comic form, but let’s say we get to briefly see a less reserved, more humanistic side of Batman. The series also does a great job at delving into what a life of love would possibly look like for our complicated masked crusader. All through the trilogy is faced with decisions that don’t revolve around the murder of his parents, the destruction of his city but instead, he is faced with decisions about his future. There is also numerous conflicts within the storyline as Batman’s love interest is none other than the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul himself (who is my personal favorite DC villain, I know, I know, The Joker is the undeniable fan favorite).

But I think this story line and unseen version of Ra’s is just what is needed for DC to refresh the impact Batman can have on the cinematic world and help DC put a stop to just following in the footsteps of its universal counterpart, Marvel. The retreading of the Batman movies is becoming overplayed. I cannot take another origin story.

The opportunity to explore more in depth The League of Shadows, it’s inside makeup, while focusing on Batman will help tell a story that has yet to be told and it could unfold in a rather promising way on the cinematic screen. Beyond getting a look into the personal life of Batman, the series could potentially help tap into the world of magic and mystique that is starting to finally translate to the big screen. This storyline is a chance to shake things up in the world of Batman, the chance to do something different, something for the real comic book fans.

Marvel is dominating the cinematic comic book scene right now with their fun, colorful portrayal of superheroes that has caught the attention of adults, families, and fanatics of all ages. I think it is safe to say that Marvel won’t be letting their grip on that scene go anytime soon. This leaves little room for era on DC’s part when it comes to putting out a product that matches what Marvel is doing; honestly to this date after Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman, their idea of simply making their movies seem edgier than Marvel’s without actually doing so, is falling flat.

How about DC does something Marvel doesn’t do, and simply step outside the box with the stories they are trying to sell (Example, Deadpool). How about making the next series of Batman movies revolve around The Demon trilogy (Hello Ben Affleck). This could be a pivotal decision in the franchise’s history, allowing it to reboot the series and create something special that will appeal to hardcore fans. I think a movie revolved around such a complex story, one that is refreshing will garner a better reception from critics and put up respectable box office numbers (which we know is the generating force behind everything).

Now, I understand The Demon Trilogy is a storyline that is foreign to most part-time comic fan but with the right writer behind the script, preparation in advertising, there will be plenty of time for fans to catch up. This includes possibly purchasing a copy of The Demon Trilogy, getting to know who Ra’s (who I know played a big role in the last trilogy but still has so much story left to tell) and other main characters are, well before the film’s release.

So to keep it short, come on Batman, step outside the box, be different, show the world a side of superheroes that is rarely ever seen in a Marvel movie; a vulnerable hero. Make a young man’s vision come true, let’s bring The Demon Trilogy to the big screen.

“Beloved, you give too much thought to what is real and what is not, to what is true and what is false. I realize that is your way, but just this once, accept things as they are. Forego your control, your discipline. Just once, let yourself go… and take me with you.”

Batman – Son of The Demon

Martin Campbell is a Maine-based author who grew up with a fascination for reading about the things that go bump in the night. He has been a fan of horror, fantasy and science fiction his whole life.

Growing up in the small farm town of Whitefield, he had plenty of time to sit around and let his imagination run wild. He spent a lot of time watching his favorite horror films (such as The Thing, Evil Dead and Bride of Frankenstein) and reading his favorite books (The Stand, The Amityville Horror and Bram Stoker’s Dracula).

By putting his unique imagination and love for horror to work, Martin has found a passion for writing and creating his own world of things that go bump in the night. By studying some of his favorite authors, he has worked hard over the last few years to try and bring to his pages some of his readers greatest fears.

After writing several short stories for various anthropologies, magazine’s and websites, Martin has completed his first book called MAINE AFTER DARK, a collection of short stories based in Maine.

Visit Martin Campbell’s Website