Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Greatest Foes of Batman

Like any other respectable Gothic-styled superhero, Batman has had his fair share of enemies. Considering that it is almost seventy years since the creation of 'The Caped Crusader' you can imagine that to comprise a detailed dossier of each and every foe that Batman has faced would be a mammoth task.

Instead of listing all of his adversaries to date (most of whom few of us would ever have heard of) it would probably be more interesting to mention the most dangerous and infamous.

First up is, of course, The Joker. Out of all of the characters to create misery for Batman he must take first place. The Joker, name aside, is not to be taken lightly. He is a worthy opponent of Batman and is extremely unpredictable and dangerous. Jack Nicholson did a great job of playing the character in 1989's 'Batman' but it has to be said that the late Heath Ledger probably bettered him if only for the dark and downright disturbing Gothic edge that he brought to the role in 2008's 'The Dark Knight'.

Next up is The Penguin, so named because of his appearance and its similarity to the Antarctic bird. With his long, beak-like nose and squat body he is a rather repulsive character. He is, however, a very intelligent man. He sees himself as a 'higher being' but he is also very much of an outcast. In the sixties 'Batman' series he was portrayed by Burgess Meredith but of the actors that have played the role Danny DeVito got it down to a tee in 1992's 'Batman Returns'. While we are on the subject of that movie there is also satisfyingly Goth-styled Catwoman to mention. Who could forget Michelle Pfeiffer's sexy slant on the P.V.C. darkly clad villainess? The character had already been portrayed very well by the late Eartha Kitt twenty-five years previously. Who is the rightful queen of that part is debatable.

Then there is The Riddler. Between 1967 and 1968 during the 'Batman' series the character was played by both Frank Gorshin and John Astin. In 1995 Jim Carrey became The Riddler for 'Batman Forever'. The Riddler, as his name suggests, is obsessed with riddles. He frequently sends complicated clues to both Batman and the police before committing a crime. The Riddler is always dressed in a green outfit with a domino mask. A lot of the time he is accompanied by two female accomplices named Echo and Query.

Our last enemy of Batman is Mister Freeze. He first appeared in Detective Comics as 'Mister Zero' and wasn't a particularly dangerous character. However, after appearing in the 'Batman' series of the sixties on several different occasions he became 'Mister Freeze', a far more serious threat to our hero. He is a mad scientist who just so happens to have a great understanding of cryonics. To survive anywhere except for a special refrigeration unit, Mister Freeze is forced to wear a special suit to keep him sufficiently cold. His suit gives him superhuman strength and he uses weapons of his own invention that harness cold in destructive ways. In 1997's 'Batman and Robin' he was played by the well cast Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, as you can see, Batman has his work cut out. And remember...these are just a few of many, many more.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Feeling Like a Superhero and Not the Bad Guy This Halloween? Be Daredevil to Her Elektra

Like most men who feel that they have nothing to lose, Daredevil is known as the fearless man. This superhero in a red costume is secretly known as Matthew Michael Murdock, a native of New York City and popularized through the imaginary Marvel Universe. Daredevil's transformation occurred when a radioactive substance accidentally fell from a passing vehicle and caused him to suffer blindness, but at the same time enhanced his other senses. Matthew Murdock's vocation to fight crime in New York City was motivated by his urge to avenge his father who died when he refused to give in to a street fight.

There are a lot of options to choose from when you want to wear a Daredevil costume for Halloween. Throughout the history of the comic itself, the look of Daredevil's costumes developed both in the logo and colors that he utilized. Costume makers, particularly those who are focused in making characters for the comic books, create all the variations of the Daredevil costume.

The first Daredevil costume that was worn and shown in the pioneering issue of the Daredevil comic had a brown and yellow color combination. The majority of the costume was colored yellow and also featured red gloves and a vest. A single D on the front of the outfit was seen in some of the earlier issues of the comic. But later on, it was changed to DD after a particular edition garnered more popularity from the audience. The DD held to this day, so most Daredevil costumes still have DD emblazoned on the chest. There is a "billy club" holster and a hood on the back in some versions of the costume, but those were removed in later editions of the Daredevil story.

In the seventh issue of the Daredevil comic, we can see the red costume version. The officially licensed Hollywood movie used the red Daredevil costume, making it one of the most sought after, bought and rented, costumes for Halloween -- and certainly the most popular Daredevil costume. Every year, it's not surprising to find men (and even women) in jumpsuits, running around and pretending to be like the fearless man from Marvel world.

Couples also enjoy the Daredevil motif, with men commonly sporting a Daredevil costume and their girlfriend wearing an Elektra costume. Elektra is also a character from Marvel and she had fought together with Daredevil for many times in the comics' history. That is why both Daredevil and Elektra costumes are usually worn by partners during the Halloween season.

The simplest and cheapest costume for this superhero is a mere muscle top matched with black pants and a Daredevil mask. This entire outfit will only cost you about $50 or less, but if you are really on a tight budget you can opt to wear a plain red top, black pants, half or full face red mask and black shoes. This Daredevil costume is actually easier than it looks; it is a hassle-free and low cost option for you to look amazing.

And now I would like to give you even more great Daredevil costume ideas when you visit [] From Taylor Jensen - The Halloween Costume expert on inexpensive, easy to find and easy to make costumes from Marvel Comics.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Taking a Look at DC Vs Marcel Comic Books

Comic books have entertained audiences since the 1930s with their quick, easy-to-read artwork and appealing, over-the-top characters. Behind Batman, Spiderman, Superman, the X-Men or other comic book heroes, there are behemoth enterprises that have dominated the comic book world for decades. While Marvel Comic Books and DC Comic Books have rivaled each other for years, occasionally the characters team up in epic battles within "the Amalgam Universe," such as in Silver Surfer versus Green Lantern, Flash versus Quicksilver, or Elektra versus Catwoman. While there are many obvious similarities between the two giants, there are also some stark contrasts.

Motivation, cause and effect are all very important considerations when analyzing the difference between Marvel and DC. Marvel characters often struggle with a myriad of internal forces and mental battles. For instance, the Hulk has struggled with an explosive temper, while Spiderman has always struggled to balance his personal life with the demands of being a superhero. Wolverine also has competing nuances of animalistic urges and human civility.

Once action has been taken, these characters often ponder what has happened and sometimes second-guess themselves. These "very human-like" characters were generally ordinary but gained powers from science accidents, radiation exposure, spider bites, genetic mutation or some other event. The setting for Marvel graphic novels are in real places like New York, Los Angeles or Toronto. Some say Marvel puts a more modern spin on comic books and fulfills a more psychological need for its readers.

By contrast, the superheroes of DC comic books are nearly god-like in their perfection and function; more like mythological heroes. Their only weaknesses come from exterior factors, like Superman coming into contact with kryptonite or Batman being without his super utility belt.

They got their powers from supernatural, magical or alien means and they exist in ethereal worlds like Metropolis, Gotham City, Star City and the Dreaming. Over the years, newer adaptations of the comic books have gotten more into the psychological side of these characters, but generally speaking, the fans of DC appreciate the boldness, the confidence, the skills and the innate intelligence of these immaculate characters.

In the end, it's hard to really say which comic book series reigns supreme. DC, the old dinosaur, has the oldest legacy of all comic books and can rightfully claim the invention of superheroes as we know them (with Superman debuting in 1938). Their characters were perfect, supreme, and almost god-like in their abilities and powers.

However, Marvel Comic Books brought a whole new spin on superheroes with their modern take; that many superheroes were just ordinary people with day jobs and complex emotions, yet wound up finding their callings as heroes (or villains) following a series of unusual events. Many comic fans will read both so the rivalry has always been friendly, but a person's favorite character may say a lot about why he or she reads.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Elektra - The Early Years

Usually referred to by just her first name, Elektra Natchios is a ninja assassin of Greek descent who uses two sais as her weapons of choice. Born in Athens, Elektra was thought to be a bastard child of an affair her mother Christina had. Christina and her husband Hugo had grown apart, and Christina had many extramarital affairs, which brought shame and embarrassment to her husband. Hugo shared this information with his young son, Orestez, who then vowed to never let his mother shame them again.

Unbeknownst to his father, Orestez hired assassins to take care of Christina, but during a boating trip in the Aegean Sea both his parents were attacked. Christina died while giving birth to Elektra, and Hugo lived. Orestez fled for shame of nearly costing his father his life.

As it turned out, Elektra was Hugo's daughter, which was revealed during a paternity test, and so it was then just the two of them. The two grew very close over the years, and Hugo nicknamed Elektra his "little amber". He would rain down gifts on the child, including her favorite of all, a dog named Agamemnon. Sadly and tragically, the dog was killed when Elektra was nine years old and was assaulted by kidnappers. Orestez made his return, though, and, now a trained and skilled martial artist, killed her assailants.

For a short time, Orestez stayed around and became friendly with his sister Elektra, though he soon left again. But before leaving he instructed their father that Elektra needed to be able to protect herself. This led to Hugo hiring trainers for his daughter, which led, of course, to her expert skills as an adult.

When Elektra was twenty years old, she and her father were abducted by terrorists. Her boyfriend at the time, Matt Murdock, the future hero known as Daredevil, wore a mask for the first time when he attempted to rescue them. Elektra took the opportunity to attack some of her kidnappers, but in the process one of them flew through the window. This prompted the police to open fire thinking the terrorists were throwing bodies out the windows. But instead of shooting the terrorists they accidentally killed Hugo Natchios as Elektra watched helplessly.

This set Elektra on a path of self discovery as she had lost all faith and hope. She traveled to China to study martial arts first with a master named Stick, but eventually joining the mystical ninja clan The Hand. From there she went through many trials and changes, was murdered and brought back to life, battled and loved Daredevil, and become an icon her creator, Frank Miller, could be proud of.

The Heart Of Marvel

Throughout the course of the History Of Marvel Comics there has been one name that has stood above all others as the icon of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man. Why people love this popular character so much isn't exactly unknown either.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Dark Imagery - Batman and Gotham City

Out of the many comic books being published there are few that have as much versatility as the Batman titles. While others are often tied to strict rules regarding the character's positive image and "family friendly" environments, Batman and his Gothic metropolitan home are left shrouded in mystery which allows them to bend the rules slightly. This can lead to interesting story possibilities for the Dark Knight that simply aren't possible in other comic book character's titles. Horror, Noir, Mystery, Science Fiction, Batman and the Gotham City backdrop lends itself easily to all of these genres due to the vast dark imagery in Batman lore.

Sometimes Batman is displayed as a hero, sometimes a brooding man hell-bent on revenge, and it has even been hinted that he is actually just as psychotic as the villains he disposes of, and in the end they all work and are justified in their own lights provided the right mindset is adapted. A man dressed in a black cape stalking the night for wrong doings to right: hero. A beast orphaned as a child seeking the blood of many for the crimes committed against him: vigilante. A guy in a giant bat suit chases a Lewis Carroll inspired midget who designs evil hats: crazy person.

Depending on the way he is drawn, narrated and whom he is pitted against Batman can take on many different roles. In the same light, or lack there of (this is Batman we're talking about) Gotham City can change the setting of a story drastically depending on which incarnation is being used.

The Gotham City Bruce Wayne strolls about in the daytime seems like nothing more than an upscale business center, due to the districts a billionaire playboy would visit, which allows even Superman to frequent. However, delving into the slums, with broken windows and boarded up and condemned homes, shows a much more desperate kind of place, a breeding ground for crime, organized or otherwise.

The tall Gothic architecture of the city, complete with terrifying gargoyles perched atop buildings, creates a new feeling altogether. A place out of a noir film in which a blood curdling scream could lead the World's greatest detective into a case he won't soon forget. And then there are the places Batman goes where we often wish he didn't. The deepest darkest corners of a city where it is plausible that a half man half crocodile could feed on flesh, or a homicidal clown could "add a smile" to somebody's face.

Batman and Gotham City allow for all of these tales and more because they have so many different faces to them. Detective stories, action comics, suspense horror, they all are plausible in that world. That's the beauty of the imagery showcased in the Batman comic books, it allows a comic book hero versatility and creates stories that could only thrive in a place like Gotham City.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Comic Book Review - "The Ultimate Unholy Halfbreed"


"The Ultimate Unholy Halfbreed"- Graphic Novel review (comic by Garc Mraci--writer, artist)

So what would happen if actor Robin Williams had sex with a rhinoceros and fathered a half-breed child? That's the question posed by The Ultimate Unholy Halfbreed, and that's the question foremost on my mind when I received my review copy of the book.

I'd heard a lot about Unholy Halfbreed in the weeks prior. For those not in the know, this independent comic book caused quite a bit of controversy due to its over the top themes and depictions of graphic violence. Its main plotline involves the aforementioned act of bestiality and the resulting birth of Rhinoboy, a half-breed bastard child with a real Oedipal complex. He hates his father (Robin Williams) and wants to kill him for raping his mother.

The very premise is the product of a warped mind. But I usually love black humor like that, entertainment that doesn't pull any punches, so I was really looking forward to reading this.

My initial reaction was that of shock and disappointment. The "art" seemed remedial and amateurish. I persisted, though, because the story was so perversely compelling. I had to find out what demented plot twist Mraci was going to introduce next.

And it does get really demented, really quick. Rape, prostitution, bestiality. Mraci doesn't leave a single taboo untouched. This is a book that you read for the characters and the plot, not for the art. Although, after a while, the art grew on me: it has a very Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butthead"), early South Park kind of vibe going for it. Mraci has a unique artistic vision. His drawings are simple, but they're direct and get his plot across. It's clear that his art is just a vehicle for his ideas (which are genuinely very funny).

In fact, more than anything else, this book is funny. I found myself laughing out loud several times, much to the annoyance of my roommate, at the constant stream of gross out humor and sight gags. Robin Williams wearing a pair of ass-less chaps? Check. Rhinoboy visiting a prostitute? Check. There's at least one good line or noteworthy visual on each page.

At just under $20.00, this book costs less than a night out. With the rumors that an adaptation is being developed for Adult Swim's late night cartoon lineup, don't miss out on what many are already calling the indie comic book find of the year.

Rating: B+ -review by Stephen Galackawicz

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Comic Heroes You Should Be Reading About

Although in today's world there are many different comic books and series to choose from, I find that it is best to read from a few series religiously and then pick up single issues that look interesting on the side. For those series you choose to read all the time, I suggest a subscription to ease the continuous blows to your wallet each week or month. For once in a while reads, keep picking them up at the stands but once you feel yourself looking forward to reading that specific comic a few times in a row, you may want to think subscription.

Okay then, that was the easy part, now here comes the hard part. Which comics should I subscribe to and which are best left on the stands? I'm so glad that you asked. In my opinion the best comics to read are the ones that revolve around your favorite comic heroes. Now that may seem pretty self explanatory but look at the key word favorite. Favorite doesn't mean top twelve, instead I would try and subscribe to your top four heroes. I'm not trying to dissuade you from reading more than four comic series. Quite the opposite, read as many as you'd like, but for your wallets sake, subscribing to the top four isn't a bad idea.

"But I like so many comics! I can't possibly just choose four!" you may say. Well, if it is too hard for you to decide on your own who to read let me show you my top four comic heroes and explain why you should also be reading them.

1. Deadpool

Deadpool is hands down my favorite comic book character ever. He has the most unique stories in comics right now chock full of action, women, and ridiculous humor. Deadpool is such a fun read because of the zaniness and open insanity of the title character. He breaks the fourth wall in every issue and is actually aware of his thought balloons (that's right he has two) and the interactions between them all lead to comedy gold. If you aren't reading one of his comics, start.

2. Batman

There's a new Batman in town folks and he certainly has his hands full. All of the Batman series are great and in my opinion are written by the best people in comics at the moment. Paul Dini, Grant Morrison, and even Kevin Smith have been involved in Batman. Although Bruce Wayne he is not, the series keeps its dark tone but with a lighter Batman...for now. Batman is definitely DC's power player and for good reason, check him out in any of five on going series.

3. Green Lantern

The Green Lantern is a book well worth reading, and not only because the current comic event: Blackest Night revolves around him. The Green Lantern is actually a recent reboot. Although Green Lanterns have been around since the Golden Age of comics, the titular hero has changed several times. But most everybody agrees that Hal Jordan is considered the Green Lantern. That's probably why Geoff John's creative team pulled him back from the dead and placed him as the lead in the current Green Lantern series. This Green Lantern complete with a haunted past and an ever changing love life is definitely one to read.

4. Spider-Man

Read Spider-man comics. Or comic, I should say. I especially harp on reading Spider-Man comics because it is so easy to do now. He only appears as the main hero in one comic book The Amazing Spider-Man. It ships three times a month so it is a little more expensive but the convenience of not having to read issues in other series just to stay on track with him is definitely a plus. Spidey's been around for ages, and he is still the same do-gooder with an infinite run of bad luck in all areas of his life. Trust me, Spider-man is arguable the biggest name in comics, and there is a reason why.

Well, there's the top four comic heroes. If you aren't reading these four heroes do your self a favor and start. The writing is superb, the illustrations are gorgeous, and the differing characters provide view points from across the spectrum. So whether your just getting into comics, or are a seasoned vet, make sure you check out these four comic heroes, you'll be sorry if you don't.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Is Wolverine the Most Successful X-Men Character?

Wolverine was introduced in 1974 in The Incredible Hulk #180, before his first major appearance in the Hulk #181. He is born as James Howlett, but he is affectionately known as Logan. In 1975 Wolverine became part of the X-Men, but he played a lesser role than the other team members. Dave Cockrum even considered dropping Wolverine from the team, but it was Cockrum's successor John Byrne that kept Wolverine in the team. Some suggest that it is because Byrne is a Canadian like Wolverine. Gradually more and more information about Wolverine's murky past was revealed. Wolverine is a mutant, possessing extremely keen senses, enhanced physical power, tremendous healing abilities and of course the trademark retractable claws on each hand. During a secret government project, Weapon X, a near indestructible metal alloy adamantium was fused to his skeletal. Wolverine, probably due to his incredible healing abilities, survived this deadly process. Interestingly enough, it was shown that Wolverine has bone claws after his adamantium was ripped out by Magneto in X-Men #25.

Wolverine is highly intelligent, but his personality is a bit rough. He is usually shown to be a loner and his teamwork within the X-Men is often sporadic. Some other team members are Cyclops, Jean Grey, Gambit, Jubilee and Beast. Wolverine, being almost dropped from the X-Men team, became one of the most successful members of the team. His tough anti-authority mentality made him a favorite of many after the fallout of the Vietnam War. Wolverine became the breakout character and in terms of comic sales and appearances overshadowed his other team members.

On the Fandomania's website Wolverine is rated as number 21 of the 100 greatest Fictional Characters, before characters like Merlin, Robin Hood and King Arthur. Without a doubt Wolverine can be seen as the most successful X-Men character of all times. Perhaps it is due to his famous catch phrase: "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice"

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Batman Costume For Dress Up Parties

If you go to a fancy dress party and look for someone who has dressed up as a superhero for the evening then you can be pretty sure that it will be a Batman costume that you see. Out of all of the comic strip heroes from over the years few have had quite the same appeal as Batman. Of course, you are bound to come across the odd Superman but the Caped Crusader just seems to have a greater overall appeal. Perhaps it is because with a Batman costume you don't have to wear your underpants on the outside of your trousers to attain authenticity... Unless, that is, you are styling your outfit on the camp Batman series of the sixties of course. Since the days of Adam West the Batman costume has changed considerably. When the original outfit is compared with the Gothic inspired one worn by Christian Bale in 2008's 'The Dark Knight' the difference is immediately obvious.

Some things about the style of the Caped Crusader's dress sense have remained relatively unchanged over the years. He still has the scallop edged cape and the eye mask with the pointed ears on top but in other ways the Batman costume of yesteryear has undergone some major changes. If anything, it is now far more Goth orientated in its overall appearance. The alterations quickly became apparent with the release of 'Batman' in 1989.

Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson brought a far more sombre version of the hero to the big screen. The movie was essentially very dark and even its lighter moments were more cynical than anything that had been seen previously. The new Batman costume was more like body armour in its appearance than the skin-tight grey spandex of the nineteen sixties television series. This was to be the new direction that the look of the Dark Knight was to take. With the release of each subsequent movie the Batman costume took on a more Gothic feel. The body armour slant continued, exaggerating contours and muscles on the hero.

The only dubious part of this evolution of the outfit was in 1997's 'Batman and Robin'. The movie sparked outrage with many fans by the addition of 'Bat-nipples' and a cod-piece to the Batman costume. A great deal of movie-goers and critics found this to be totally ridiculous. George Clooney, who took the lead role for the movie, just doesn't seem to come across as being quite so menacing when confronting super-villains when dressed in this style of outfit. Fortunately, since 'Batman and Robin', the nipples have quietly disappeared from the Batman costume and the films have reverted back to a more serious and darker feel.

If there is a fancy dress party that you have been invited to and you like the idea of getting dressed up as everyone's favourite superhero then there are a variety of styles to choose from. Each of the movies has slightly different takes on the Gothic Batman's appearance. Whichever costume you settle on you are sure to be a popular guest.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Is Batman A Superhero Or Not?

What exactly defines a superhero? Is it truly necessary for a superhero to have super powers like flying, inhuman strength, x-ray vision or invulnerability?

Most people would quickly state that to be a super hero you must have these abilities. If this is true, the question should be expanded to include others like Iron-Man and Green Arrow. Are they also superheroes or not? In the same sense as Batman, they cannot be seen as super heroes. Some see Batman as a vigilante with a lot of high-tech gadgets but no innate super powers. In their opinion, he can't be a superhero.

Taking a look at the definition of a super hero in the Merriam-Webster, you find a superhero defined as "a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers" as well as "an exceptionally skillful or successful person." So, even if Batman does not have any superhuman powers, he does have some really extraordinary powers.

He is a very skilled fighter, being a master at various martial arts. He is extremely intelligent and is seen as the Dark Detective for his abilities to solve complex puzzles. He is a master of various forensic sciences, and he has a great understanding of the human psychological processes. Batman is, quite certainly, a powerful individual. He is physically strong and agile. Except for these qualities, Batman also shares quite a lot of commonalities with other fictional superheroes. He wears a costume to hide his true identity. He uses various special equipment, ranging from small utilities on his belt, to his famous bat mobile. He usually fights those who are classified as super villains, like the Joker, Two Face, Killer Croc and the Penquin.

His extraordinary abilities are shown by his ability overcome the lower level thugs, mostly used by the super villains. Even when vastly outnumbered by these thugs, Batman can handle and disable them all with relative ease. These alone moves him into the arena of exceptionally skillful. So even though he has no real super powers, he does fit the definition given by Merriam-Webster. Of course, technology does help him in his shortcomings. He doesn't have x-ray vision, like Superman, but he does have his bat-goggles. He cannot fly, but with his trusted grappling hook, he can move quite effectively between the buildings of Gotham. He uses smoke and stun grenades to overcome a huge number of enemies, and he can pick locks and disable alarms with great ease. What he needs in superpowers, he makes up in gadgets.

The biggest argument for Batman as a superhero comes from the Justice League of America. Distinquished superheroes like Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter work side by side with Batman. Would these superheroes accept a mere human being if he is not up to their standards? The answer is no. The Justice Leaguers reckon Batman as one of them.

Batman does not have any real superpowers, but according to the definition of Merriam-Webster Batman does fit the definition of a superhero, and with real superheroes accepting him as an equal, no doubt Batman can truly and utterly be called a superhero.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The First Fathers And Sons of Comics

It may have not been planned but many of this week's comics happen to deal with fathers and sons. That might not sound strange but when you think about classic comics there aren't many prominent father figures. Some of the most prominent super heroes don't have dads. Superman's father is dead, ditto for Batman, Uncle Ben is the closest thing to a dad Peter Parker ever had and we all know what happened to him. I'm not even going to go near Silk Spectre's daddy issues. Is there an underlying reason why most superheroes are also orphans?

These week's Detective Comics, Walking Dead and Gotham City Sirens all deal with fathers and their sons. In Detective, Commissioner James Gordon is increasingly concerned with the return of his son James Jr. who has been troubled to say the least and for reasons that are only hinted at, has been separated from his family for years.

In Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes has always sworn to protect his son Carl by any means necessary in their dangerous zombie filled world. In this month's issue Rick makes good on his vow, even sacrificing his fellow survivors in order to protect his son. In this exciting installment, Rick who has lost everything else may be unable to save Carl this time.

The Walking Dead may have reached a critical turning point in its plot that may shift the relationship between Rick and Carl.

Finally in Sirens, Arkham Asylum guard Aaron Cash discovers that the death of his infant son was not accidental but an underhanded scheme played out by the Joker. Realizing this, Cash goes against his duty as a guard and condones the proposed murder of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Noticing that this father son theme was in most of my pull list this week, it got me thinking about the sort of shadow role that many fathers of golden age superheroes have played throughout comic history.

In almost every hero's origin, their parents are murdered, pass away or are somehow tossed aside so that their offspring can meet their destiny of fighting crime. And what other tragedy is as universally relatable as well as strong a motivator. No matter who we are we all have parents, and losing them has fueled Bruce Wayne's war on crime as well as inspires Peter Parker to take responsibility for his spider powers by using them for good, while Tony Stark and Britt Reid, (The Green Hornet,) live in the shadows of their fathers legacies and attempt to better the world by using their vast inheritances to fund their causes.

Many of those heroes have been subconsciously making up for the lack of perennial figures in their lives over the course of their lives. Bruce Wayne for one, initially the ultimate loner, has fostered an entire family of Robins and Batgirls who all share a similar trauma. Raising three boy wonders is no easy task, and Bruce doesn't do such a great job interacting with his sole biological son Damian, who is the youngest, most arrogant and anti social Robin to date. It's curious to see Bruce mentor his previous sidekicks, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake so closely, (to the point of adopting Tim,) and neglect his own flesh and blood. Time will tell how this relationship evolves; Damian is a fairly new character in comic terms. In the meantime, Dick, (The original Robin,) has taken his mentors son under his wing to form a new Batman & Robin team that flips the dynamic of the duo by featuring a lighthearted Batman and a hot tempered Robin.

Thanks to the relationships we witness from page to page, it's easy to see that comic books are capable of telling much deeper stories than what appears on the surface. Comics are a yet another medium being used to explore humanity and it's many aspects. It may be colorful, campy and cryptic but this ink doesn't run, it bleeds.

Daniel Scheid is a Social Networking and Technology Journalist.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gotham Central

In 2003, Ed Brubacker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark got together to start a comic book series about the Gotham City Police Department or GCPD. The series was called Gotham Central and is part of the Batman family of books. The series was also a commercial failure. The first issue came out February 2003 and the last issue was dated April 2006.

Forty issues. That's it. And you know what? That's beautiful. I mean, if a series ran into the hundreds of issues it come under the responsibility of any number of creative teams; it's inevitable that some issues in the run would be crap. Can't be helped, if your series in currently numbers 500+ or 300+ there will be some dogs in that pile. And that's where the forty issues of Gotham Central become magic. I have read everyone and everyone is a gem. Well, there is one, issue no. 37 is a tie in to a DC-wide event called Infinite Crisis, and it doesn't have the magic of the others. It was a bit bleh, but still okay. If that's the worst that Gotham Central can do then it's safe to say that this series is magic and highly recommended.

Over the course of the run the writing is consistently Brubacker and Rucka and it shows in the quality of the stories. This two are among the top writers in the field at the time, still are actually (circa 2010), Michael Lark shares art chores with others over the run, artists like Stefano Guadiano and Greg Scott. They all do a good job. There are some panels in this run that are just spot on. Not just any writer can do this series because it's a street level series with hardly any costumed heroes; so the artists have to do 'street' very well. Things like facial expressions, gestures. From panel to panel the action can get very subtle - no expansive super-hero action here - which could explain the low sales.

So why should you even bother?

First of all: the writing. The pacing, characterization and the character dynamics add up to engrossing single-issue stories and story arcs. These are great page-turners that can be re-read with relish. My favorite single issue tale is called 'Nature' and is presented in issue no. 32. This is a tale that involves the Batman villain Poison Ivy - as the hero. How cool is that? The best of the arcs is called 'Soft Targets' and stars the most nefarious Batman baddie of them all - the Joker. Close to it in quality is another arc called 'Unresolved' this time with the Mad Hatter.

Another reason to pick this up is the art. Oh, the art. I've found myself stopping to stare at some panels. Just looking at them. The approach is not exactly noir but very close - the mood created is just perfect for street level Gotham.

Did I say Gotham. Yes, Batman's town. He's here too, along the edges of the stories. Never the centerpiece, but always present. In fact, a bit conspicuous by his absence. But not only him, he's history, the lore surrounding the bat. The stories are accessible to any reader not familiar with Batman but the more you know about the Batman's world the richer that tales become. Subtle touches abound for readers in the know. The series also adds to the DC Universe. Two protagonists in particular: Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen go on to bigger roles in the DCU.

Gotham Central wasn't popular, and isn't, except for a small group of loyalists like me. It's fated to be one of those 'lost gems' of comics. Quality awaits for those willing to give it a chance.

Pete Albano

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Comic Book Reviews - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight

One of my special guilty pleasures on TV was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was not your typical scary vampire sucking the lifeblood out of innocent virgins but a rousing and irreverent dedication to youth, culture and its relationship with eternal damnation.. The television show kept some of the connection with the horrible movie of the same name but had its creator Joss Whedon at the helm to ensure its appropriate poignancy and humor came through loud and clear. Its creators made sure that the material kept us amused, surprised and caring for the young heroine as well as her friends and even some of the bad guys. After seven seasons the young cheerleading vampire slayer saved the world one last time and exited network television.

For the uninitiated, Buffy Summers was the young girl chosen from a long line of mystical maidens to fight the demons of the dark. She fights vampires with mad martial arts skills with the help of her best friends Willow, a witch and Xander a nice enough ordinary guy. The comic series is well drawn and is surprisingly consistent in its look and feel from issue to issue. The comic book series contains several story arcs but basically it's Summers and her worldwide army of young slayers against vengeful demons with ulterior motives as well as the full force of the United States Army.

For five seasons Buffy the Vampire Slayer kept us entertained on a fledgling network called the WB then made the jump to UPN for two more seasons before going out with a bang. To the surprise and delight of many of its fans, the "Chosen One" returned in comic book form to continue slaying vampires and demons while taking on the establishment as well. The comic series was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and picked up after the destruction of the Hellmouth and the city of Sunnydale.

Joss Whedon, the creator continued to guide the series in this new format; working feverishly to keep the flavor and style that made the series so unique. The comic series blasted off with Whedon scripting the story and artist Georges Jeanty on pencils and Andy Owens working inks; Dave Stewart created the exquisite colors with Comicraft and Richard Starkings filling out the team on lettering.

Series 7 ended with the group driving off into the great unknown apparently ready to assemble the hundreds of new slayers that have been awakened after the last great confrontation with evil. What we see in the opening segment is a much more emotionally mature Buffy Summers. Our pretty blonde cheerleader has now morphed into General Patton or more appropriately Nick Fury agent of Shield. Her new crew comprising of hundreds of new slayers are battle tested and dedicated to her cause. The TV show was unconventional in its delivery and dialogue and the comic series tries to deliver that same flavor.

You are probably in one it is you and ensure new a new day in the you delete it. If it is a good idea is to you and Vampire Slayer season eight continues many of the relationships that have blossomed throughout the television series while continuing to explore new themes. Even Buffy gets a new love interest that assists in the mending of her broken heart. The mythology that colors the world of Buffy Summers continues to evolve in the color comics. The material continues to feel fresh after all these years because Whedon and the original writers for the show treat the new material with care and pull the reader in with a mix of new characters and old favorites.

Buffy Season 8 started out as an exhilarating new opportunity for comics to continue the storyline and characters past their TV incarnations. Comics can be just as entertaining medium without the exorbitant expense of production. Continuing a TV series in this medium also allows for more merchandising opportunities in new markets. Although the concept of portraying television characters in comics is not new the idea of continuing a series while bridging the gap between television and comics in this way is novel and refreshing.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Buffy and her new charges known as Slayers live and train tirelessly in Scotland. The US Army and a roundtable of old and new villains take on Buffy and her friends. A new villain named Twilight figures heavily in the plots and subplots which pepper the series. The slayer army and Buffy are forced to fight for their lives and in defense of their loved ones; as usual, not everyone makes it out alive in a Joss Whedon production. If you are a fan of the show and you are into comics I'm fairly certain you will like this series. Since there are no limitations when it comes to special effects in comics Whedon and the gang have a great time constructing their fantasy world. Although the season 8 story arc is over, Whedon and company are already talking about continuing the project which means lots more work for the Slayer.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Pest On The Run by Gerry Burke - Book Review

Big trouble and light hearted investigations...

A beautiful stage show star, come whore house madam, is suddenly foully murdered, despite her apparent gangster protection. A disgruntled Japanese business tycoon hires a hit man to assassinate Australia's Prime Minister. An unbeatable game show contestant takes a recreational bungee-jump, only to have her rope break in what her friend thinks is dubious circumstances. Enter the low-life world of Paddy Pest, sometimes Private Investigator and sometimes secret agent for Australia's spy bureau ASIO. Pest is based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, though is very frequently an international traveler. He is a master of dubious disguises, and often manages to solve the case despite his shortcomings. Here is a world where virtually everybody has a rancorous underbelly, and where murder is a common life event, but where good will eventually win out (even if by fluke). These humorous short stories with beguile you, entertain you and make you chuckle. Gerry Burke's Pest On The Run: More Humorous Short Stories From The Paddy Pest Chronicles (iUniverse, c2012) is ideal for the lover of crime and murder mystery tales, but will also suit busy people looking for a witty amusement to fill a free hour or two.

Paddy is a frequent visitor of both upper class and lower class hotel bars, and these tales have the ethos of a pub yarn: unlikely events, boisterous pride, and male machoism lubricated to dubious heights. The style is very chatty, with Pest narrating his stories as if he is talking to an interested acquaintance. There are asides to the reader. When pertinent, Paddy occasional reminisces about his past, including his childhood. With a flair for drama he sometimes skips over the more mundane details to get to the action and juicy bits. These stories certainly deal with the darker side of life, and a few times death is narrated, but the great majority of these plots take place after the brutality is over. This book is about solving crime, not depicting crime and is overwhelmingly light hearted. Paddy is certainly a ladies man and the ticklish subject of sex is often alluded to, though not specifically depicted. In tune with the 'pub ethos', Paddy's descriptions of women can be quite humorously crude, without actually being offensive, except perhaps to the conservative.

There is occasional offensive language, though not overly so. There are several laugh out loud moments and every story will leave the reader smiling. Most stories have moments of high drama, though here the unlikeliness of the action is taken tongue in cheek. Occasionally Burke includes good phrasing that lifts the text. We read for example the atmospheric and slightly philosophic sentence: "Other, when you visit a country with a different culture, it is difficult to break through the veneer of reserve that camouflages a human spirit that is primed to explode" (Burke, p. 25). More of this care in writing would make the book even better. There is occasional foul language, but this is completely in tune with the macho low-life spirit of the book and will not offend most, except perhaps the conservative. This is a book by an Australian author and there is quite a sprinkling of colloquialisms and cultural references which may be unfamiliar to international readers. Some are explained in the text, which erases any difficulty, but some are not. These are, however, in no way essential to the text and will at the most cause a moment of wondering before the reader passes on.

In his collective stories Burke presents us with an interesting portrait of "Patrick Pesticide aka Paddy Pest" (Burke, p. v). Paddy is of Irish heritage, though primarily Australian in outlook. Burke thus combines both Irish luck and silliness, with the Australian macho male. He is a gambler and bets on race horses, and has quite an eye for the women. Paddy is of dubious background. He says of himself "I would not say I was straight or bent - somewhere in the middle" (Burke, p. 4). On the down side Paddy can be quite sexist, seeing women in many ways as bodies first. Full of pride Pest sees himself as a "master of disguise" (Burke, p. 37), though others are not nearly as convinced. While Paddy is in training in New Guinea one character comments on his being "dressed in a ridiculous head-hunter's outfit" (Burke, p. 188). By creating this mix of good and bad Burke has created an endearing, eccentric character that we can like because he gives us a slightly spicy escape from our 'ordinary' lives. Paddy reminds us of the rouge, tough boy at high school who everybody admired, but who never really did anything seriously wrong. He is a 'lad' and the reader is charmed. Paddy of course comes in a great tradition of incompetent Private Investigators / Spies. We think of Austin Powers, Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Agent Maxwell Smart and even Inspector Gadget. Burke, however, has given us his own particular spin on the pattern, and we do not feel that we are reading a complete copy.

A few other characters pop up more than once. There is Stormy Weathers, the totally competent ASIO agent, who has a cover job as barmaid at Sam's Fly by Night Club. There is Justin O'Keefe, the slacker police Inspector with an attitude. Mostly these secondary characters are at a minimum. Burke does, though, give them personality traits that flesh them out a bit. Stormy, for example, is a jealous lover. Occasionally Burke gives us a potted history of a character, giving us a summary of their eccentricities and adventures. Murder victim Frankie Hogan, for example, is a memorable woman with true spirit. Burke describes her in three pages giving the story depth and poignancy. Burke is quite skilled at this kind of detail and his writing would benefit by including more of it.

As we have noted Pest himself can be quite sexist. At one point for example he outrageously poses the equation that large breasts equals many friends (Burke, p. 200). Much of the humor, however, arises from the fact that many women are in actuality much more competent than him. As Pest himself says: "There had been two attempts on my life and, once more, I had been saved by a woman" (Burke, p. 77). These stories are indeed filled with dynamic, no-nonsense women you would think twice about crossing. There is a dangerous female assassin, successful business women, and several able female secret agents. Frankie Hogan takes no sexual nonsense from men, has "personality" (Burke, p. 3), and is a success in all her career ventures. Not to err too much on one side Burke has included one nasty, negatively-portrayed, female villain (Burke, p. 118). On the whole this book will pass Feminist standards, though some may not take the humor.

Shifting to male roles and Gender Studies it should be noted that these stories are in some ways very much in the ethos of the 1950's though they are set in contemporary times. This is the world of the tough guy, the gangster, the merry bachelor. Men should not really have soft feelings. Hyman Finkelstein, a low-life criminal, doesn't even like people looking at him (Burke, p. 151) let alone be able to have a mature relationship. Fear is a sign that a guy must be a "nancy boy" (Burke, p. 230). Paddy, on the other hand, is able to hug an old, male friend (Burke, p. 17). Women are very much a sexual adjunct to the male ego. Paddy does have a kind of steady relationship with Stormy, but even that is very much a breakable, uncommitted relationship. This whole 'retro' male image is, however, held up to debunking humor. This male world is on shaky ground. The great male image repeatedly is out shone by women and needs females to save it.

As with the issue of women and Feminism, Paddy Pest, and those he meets, can be quite homophobic. Paddy, for example, refers to gays by a disparaging name (Burke, p. 244), as does Hyman Finkelstein (Burke, p, 151). Finkelstein is particularly negative about gays. The actual representations of LGBTIQ people, however, on the whole are not at negative about that aspect of their lives. LGBTIQ people are primarily represented by two stories. First there is The Candidate which spotlights Lindsay Dove and his life-partner Jay Sniggle. Lindsay is a U.S. presidential candidate and Jay is an IT consultant. Then there is Who Was That Masked Man? highlighting the 'butch-fem' caterer Cate Edwards. Cate is a villain, but the story is not negative about here being a lesbian. This second story indeed has Ellen DeGeneres making fun of Paddy's cloddish ignorance of the LGBTIQ community. Ellen is mentioned (as an LGBTIQ person) in another story (Burke, p. 84), as is k.d. Lang. Gay Mardi Grass are mentioned twice. A number of times women are suspected to be lesbian (not in a negative way) and a 'drag-queen' secret agent is depicted canoodling with an unwitting male political (Burke, p. 138-139). On another occasion Paddy comes upon a not so pretty 'drag-queen' (Burke, p. 21), but this is the only negative description, and of course not all transvestites are necessarily beautiful. Once again the issue should not offend interested parties as long as the humor is taken into account.

The often ignored Indigenous and Racial Minorities also feature. Lindsay Dove is "black" (Burke, p. 79) as well as being gay. In A Long Time Gone Australia's Jewish minority is highlighted in the character of Hyman Finkelstein. Hymie is a gangster villain, but Burke goes out of his way to point out that he is not being anti-Jewish (Burke, p. 158-159). Louey is a successful "Polynesian" bar owner on Norfolk Island (Burke, p. 121). In The Goodbye Wave, though, the head of Fiji is referred to as a "baboon" (Burke, p. 129). This is a rather racist description, even for humorous purposes. Overall this is a very multicultural book, with Chinese, Japanese, Pilipino, Hong Kong, Russian, Balkan and Greeks mentioned with stories being set in many different countries. We get a true sense of the world, rather than a monosyllabic, white Anglo-Saxon perspective.

The aged feature in a very minor way in these tales. There is one uncomplimentary portrayal (Burke, p. 176) and one positive description of an older (though not necessarily aged) woman (Burke, p. 195). Burke could lift his game a little here, as the world is not full of only those under 55 years, even though some agencies such as advertising would have us believe this.

From the Capitalism verses Socialism perspective wealth in these stories is certainly suspect. These tales show only a very slim difference between corrupt businessmen and rich gangsters. Politicians and even judges don't exactly receive compliments. The lower classes are not lauded, but they are not seriously criticized. The Little people' more often than not help Paddy. The middle class is to a degree absent, but this is not so surprising as they are not likely to have the funds to hire a Private Investigator and are too 'clean' to have information on gangsters.

From the broader outlook of society in general, the Catholic Church is foot-noted as being anti-gay (Burke, p. 82 & 154) and rather a kill-joy for the more spirited members of the world (Burke, 149). The Police are depicted as being often incompetent and corrupt. These two institutions of society, perhaps in tune with Socialism, could be improved.

Before departing from these various social issues it should be stressed that these stories rely very much on outrageous statements and circumstances for humor. The book is full of politically incorrect text, but we are meant to take everything tongue in cheek. If we read these tales too critically we will be deeply offended, but Burke wants us, on the one hand to 'lighten up', and on the other hand to look a bit deeper. If this is kept in mind the book can very much be enjoyed.

From a Postmodern perspective it can be noted that there are no hard edge binary oppositions in Pest On The Run. There are definite 'bad' guys, but good and bad blur. As has been noted, Paddy himself is shady. We like him precisely because he is a 'wag'. In Murder Before Lunch Pest even works for a crime boss. This blurring of categories makes for a more realistic and interesting read. It adds 'spice' and avoids boring oversimplification.

Many stories have a mythological quality, and indeed these elements can be what attract us most to an author's work. For Paddy Pest we need only to turn to the Joker Card in the modern playing card pack. As court jester, the Joker is dressed in a funny costume, and Pest similarly assumes dubious disguises. The Joker's cap has pretentious baubles and he holds a wand topped with a manikin of himself. Pest is none to retiring in describing his own talents as a spy and lover. Yet the Joker possesses almost magical powers that no other card has, and in its presence many a losing hand can be transformed into a winning hand. Pest does solve the case, even if by sheer luck. Of course, most of all, the Joker tells silly stories and jokes, and that is the overwhelming ethos of Burke's book.

Gerry Burke has written a very entertaining book for the not so serious at heart. He manages to take a look at a wide variety of social issues, such as Feminism, while at the same time making us laugh. The dark world of crime is depicted, occasionally with the brutality described, but good always wins out and we are mostly entertained by a light hand. Most stories are around 20 pages long, and are ideal reading if you are short of time. Pest On The Run was a pleasure to read and I am happy to rate it as 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Burke, Gerry. Pest On The Run: More Humorous Short Stories From The Paddy Pest Chronicles:__ Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, c2012. Pest On The Run (Book ed.) Pest On The Run (Kindle ed.)

This book is ideal for people on the go, who want to take a short time to unwind with a few laughs. If you like crime or mystery stories, these tales are even more suited to you. Burke gives his detective/spy a distinctly Australian feel, and he writes in a style that is reminiscent of a chat in a hotel bar. For light entertainment this book is well worth the buy.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wonder Woman - The Fictional Superheroine

If you are an avid reader of DC comics, you must be familiar with the character of Wonder Woman. She is the warrior princess of the immortal Amazons. The story borrows heavily from the Amazonians in Greek Mythology.

Back in her homeland, Wonder Woman is known as Princess Diana of Themyscira. She is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, the ruler of the immortal Amazons. The legend has it that Diana was the first child to be born in three thousand years on Paradise Island. Her birth was extraordinary because the other inhabitants of warrior island were not born in the literal sense of the term. They were created by the Greek Goddesses by drawing forth the souls of all the women who had been executed by men. Queen Hippolyta was the first soul to be reincarnated. Of all the souls of the women that were revived, one soul was left behind. It was the soul of the unborn daughter of the woman who was murdered first. It was prophesized that this soul would be born as Diana to Queen Hippolyta.

Around the latter half of the 20th Century, the Goddesses fulfilled Hippolyta's wish for a child. She was asked to mold some clay from the shores of the Paradise Island in the form of a female child. Six goddesses of the Greek Pantheon - Demeter, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hestia and Hermis - blew life into the clay structure and each gifted her with a unique gift which together account for her superior combat and battle skills.

  • Demeter: Super Strength
  • Athena: Courage and Wisdom
  • Artemis: Communion with animals and a hunter's heart
  • Aphrodite: Beauty
  • Hestia: Sisterhood with Fire
  • Hermis: The Power of flight and Speed

Diana grew up amidst women and sisters in the woods. Although trained to be a warrior, she was not a super heroine from the start. She used her powers to tackle issues of war, death, inequality and conflicts between the Olympian Gods. Themyscirian was her main language, a combination of classical Greek and Turkish. English was learned only after she arrived in America.

When Diana was a young, pretty lass, the Gods ordered that the Amazonians must send an ambassador to Earth. A contest was held to select a suitable emissary. Diana was disallowed to participate. However, she went against her mother, participated in disguise and won the championship. Thus, she was sent as the emissary into Man's world.

Her Weaponry

The Lasso of Truth was her main weaponry when she embarked on her earthy mission. It was fashioned by Hephaestus himself. She was also given the Sandals of Hermes, which was the gift of flight and speed. It allowed her to travel great distances in minutes. She wears a pair of indestructible silver bracelets and a razor sharp golden tiara that functions like a projectile. Wonder Woman is also known for her ability to create invisible vehicles at will.

Christened Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a true icon of beauty, brains and brute force. She enters the human world at Boston where she meets Harvard professor Dr. Julia and her daughter Vanessa and stays with them for a month or two. It is from them that she learns English. She comes to Earth to return army pilot Steve Trevor to the human world after he crash-lands on the Paradise Island. Her actual mission is to promote peace, but she gets caught battling the God of Ares and his minions. When the battle becomes public, she is given the name Wonder Woman. She is the member of the Justice League of America.

Wonder Woman was created and designed by American writer and psychologist William Moulton Marston. In the human world, she is looked upon as the harbinger of love, peace, justice and sexual equality.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Diversity in Comics - Why I’m Reading DC Books Again

With the introduction of the new Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, DC has blown up its fresh universe by introducing a Muslim-Arab American superhero at the centre of Geoff Johns‘ intricate Green Lantern series. This is not the first time DC has explored characters from different backgrounds, as their New 52 reboot has allowed them to emphasise more diversity, shaking up the previous white male role model and female damsel in distress characters that plagued the genre’s early years.

DC has played a major part of the shift, more so than Marvel I would argue. This year, for instance, Alan Scott was introduced as the first gay Green Lantern in the “Earth 2” title series set in an alternate universe away from the main books. Away from the Green Lantern universe, one of reboot’s most critically acclaimed books, Batwoman, explored Kate Kane’s personal struggles as well as her sexual orientation which has been praised by the general public and the character from the Batman universe has often been described as the highest profile gay character to appear in stories produced by DC Comics.

It’s not a matter of what company is taking the lead in the race to push diversity, it’s which one is doing it to craft intricate stories, and not just force publicity stunts. For instance Marvel featured the first gay wedding to happen in superhero comics this year, as characters Northstar and Kyle Jinadu were married in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #51. While it’s a move in the right direction, choosing two lesser-known characters in one of the smaller X-Men titles could be seen as Marvel playing it too safely. For instance, if the wedding was met with public backlash, Marvel could have easily swept it under the rug.

Where Marvel have faired better in the past, is making their black- American superhero Luke Cage feel like an natural part of their Avengers roster. The Avengers have long been based in New York, so it was fitting they had a hero who represented a more realistic modern-day resident of Harlem. It wasn’t so much of a publicity stunt, more so a natural progression of a character. However with The Avengers movie now the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time, logic dictates the Marvel Comics universe is now built to closely resemble their movies. For the meantime that presumably means, Luke Cage takes a backseat, while Marvel focus on making the public believe their new character Marcus Johnson, is the illegitimate son of Nick Fury, who grows up to look like Samuel L. Jackson and later turns out to be named Nick Fury himself. Forget diversity, it’s just cheap storytelling.

One character I’m really looking forward to see further developed is Cyborg from DC’s main Justice League title. What’s stopped me reading Justice League in the past is that it long felt like it was stuck in the past in terms of characters. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all came from diverse backgrounds for sure, but in terms of appearance, they all resemble typical white superheroes. With the New 52 reboot, writer Geoff Johns added Cyborg, who had previously been mainly featured in the Teen Titans group, to the main Justice League roster. While initially Cyborg’s inclusion seemed as if he primarily existed within the Justice League to act as their teleporter, upcoming plans reveal there’s more to come from Victor Stone.

If there’s one lesson Marvel can take from DC in how to reboot successfully, it’s focus on story and not what’s happening in other media. With no major films to resemble (yet), the DC reboot has been free to create interesting stories for characters from all different backgrounds. There’s still room for improvement, it would be nice to see a female Green Lantern soon, and perhaps some more emphasis on characters like Supergirl. For now though, the New 52 reboot has me reading DC books again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Top 5 Villains in Graphic Novels

When we make a list of the most addictive things in the world, we seldom remember putting graphic novels on that list. However, graphic novels certainly deserve to be there. Once a person starts reading graphic novels, he/she gets totally addicted to it. The reason for the success of graphic novels lies as much in the creativity of the villain as is does in the bravery of the hero. Here's bringing you the 5 best graphic novel villains...

5. Loki

Although his brother Thor is a good character, Loki is a villain in Marvel comics. He first made an appearance in Venus No.6 in 1949. He gained more popularity in 2012 as the main villain of the super hit movie Avengers, thanks to the very superb Tom Hiddleton. Loki's character is that of an extremely determined and even overconfident man. Physically weaker and smaller than his brother, Loki's rage is partly driven by the envy and rage he feels towards Thor, who was treated like a hero by the citizens of Asgard. Along with his fitness and athletic ability, Loki possesses an intellect and an ability to manipulate others that is hard to match.

4. Magneto

Created in 1963 by Stan Lee, Magneto is the most famous adversary of the X-Men. As the name suggests, Magneto is a mutant who has the ability to control magnetic substances. Magneto is overconfident and believes that mutants are superior to the human race. He therefore locks horns against Dr. Charles Xavier, who believes that humans and mutants should coexist. The plot thickens when the spectators find out that Dr. Xavier and Magneto were actually former friends who went their separate ways due to the difference in their ideology.

While Magneto is portrayed as a man having a heart of stone, he does have a tad soft spot for his friend Charles. Nevertheless, this Jewish Holocaust survivor is never afraid to launch any sort of offensive for the benefit of the mutant-kind.

3. Green Goblin

The Green Goblin is an alias of many different villains in Marvel comics. The most famous of those incarnations is Norman Osborne, a rich but cruel man, who designed the equipment needed to build the Green Goblin. This was followed by his son, Harry Osborne, becoming Green Goblin in an attempt to avenge his father's death. Green Goblin first made an appearance in The Amazing Spiderman #14 in 1964 and was also a part of the movie 'Spiderman', which was released in 2002. The Green Goblin, because of his superhuman strength and amazing gadgets, is fearsome, yet popular.

2. Darkseid

Although Superman comics are considered inferior to others like X-Men, Spiderman, etc. by many men, one cannot deny the fact that its villains are awesome. Darkseid is one such villain, arguably the best of the lot! As his name suggests, Darkseid oozes evilness. He is a sadist who has the ability to destroy and/or resurrect organisms. Darkseid first made an appearance in the comic book 'Forever People#1' and has been a success and 'fan favorite' ever since.

1. Joker

Calling Joker a demented, crazy, sadistic sociopath would be the understatement of the century. Joker, by far the most popular villain in graphic novels, is a genius who uses his intellect for all the wrong purposes. He was first introduced in 1940 in Batman#1. Possessing a clown-like appearance, Joker doesn't really have any special abilities. However, he is driven by his willingness to see others suffer, which makes him a fearsome adversary for Batman. Joker was also the main villain in the 2008 blockbuster movie The Dark Night, in which he was played by Heath Ledger.

Whether one loves graphic novels or hates them, he/she has to agree that they are extremely successful. And a large part of their success is attributed to their mysterious and evil villains, who have entertained graphic novel fans for years.
By Neil Verma

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Should Marvel Reboot?

DC's New 52 reboot is one of the most significant things to happen to comics in decades. There's no doubt that DC has done well to make their comics reader-friendly by wiping away most of their continuity. It was a risky move, but the result has put DC back on top over Marvel with sales figures. With Marvel falling behind for the first time in years, it raises the question whether it's time for them to initiate a total reboot, in attempt to wipe their increasing convoluted continuity clean and become more accessible for new readers?

Yes Marvel Need To Reboot

1) Their Continuity Is Too Messy

One of the biggest challenges for new readers of Marvel comics is to try and come to terms with the X-Men continuity. Spanning for over fifty years, the X-Men books are almost unrecognisable to new readers. Gone is the Professor X and his X-Men vs. Magneto and his Brotherhood of mutants, replaced by a universe where former villains are now allies. Continuity isn't just messy when it comes to the X-Men though. Spider-Man suffered a continuity crisis when an editorial decision decided to have the devil, Mephisto erase Peter's marriage, and make everyone forget that Paeter Parker is Spider-Man. These are the kind of examples where it's easy to justify a Marvel reboot.

2) They Need More Characters From Diverse Backgrounds

Where Marvel has become seriously outdated is that they lack some diversity. Sure enough, Brian Michael Bendis is doing superb work on making Miles Morales an engaging, fresh character in Ultimate Spider-Man, while Ed Brubaker maintains the Falcon as one of my favourite characters, but Ultimate Marvel aside, they are still lacking. How would a reboot help introduce characters from different minorities? Characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man remain incredibly popular because they're over fifty-years-old. Resetting the clock would allow Marvel to give new characters from diverse backgrounds more extensive back stories and make them a core part of the Marvel Universe, rather than side characters. Marvel could incorporate Ultimate Nick Fury into the mainstream universe, or even create some new characters, as seen with Marcus Johnson from the recent Battle Scars series. It's time now for characters from diverse backgrounds to simply be more than just side characters.

No To A Reboot

1)Continuity Can Be Restored Easier

It was easier to see why DC chose the reboot The Justice League. The team had become outdated, irrelevant and aside from X-Men, had the most confusing continuity in comics. They needed a new slate. Marvel is lucky not to be in that position just yet. While they've been going on a little over-board on events lately, it's becoming clearer that they know what's working and what's not. With financial struggles, Marvel was forced to cancel titles such as Alpha Flight, Dark Wolverine, X-23 and Iron Man 2.0. With the excess weight taken off, Marvel should have time to focus on making their existing lines better. An example should be the work of Dan Slott on The Amazing Spider-Man series. When Slott took charge, he had the duty of recovering the series from the One More Day mess left behind by JMS and Joe Quesada. Now, Spidey is one of the most fun comics around. More writers need to focus on wiping away what didn't work before, and bringing back the characteristics that made the superheroes so engaging in the first place.

2) Their Characters have Come Too Far

Another problem with a company ride reboot would be that it would undermine the journeys that Marvel's characters have taken over the past years. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon and Jason Aaron have worked hard to strongly develop characters like Cyclops and Wolverine. Would all that be diminished if the X-Men line rebooted?

The same applies to characters like Bucky Barnes and The Scarlett Witch. Both characters have had writers spend years developing them, so it's difficult to imagine a reboot wiping their continuity clean. DC showed how ruthless they can be when Wally West was cut from the New 52 relaunch. I would hate to see that happen to any of my favourite Marvel characters.


Will Marvel reboot? In my opinion, Marvel is likely going to judge the future of their comic line by how well their event Avengers vs. X-Men is received. If the event reaches mainstream publicity and sales are good, I can imagine Marvel will hold off a reboot and spin great stories off AVX, similar to what happened with Civil War. If AVX fails to impress, I feel as if maybe Marvel will probably initiate a reboot. After all, if the top two teams Marvel has battling each other can't succeed, then it's definitely time to go back to the drawing board. There seems to be a trend with comics lately, as if they're aspiring to be like the 90′s again, with over the top art, page after page of heroes fighting and little substance. Marvel also really need to turn this around if they want to keep on top of DC in the future.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Contact Comic Book Artists and Writers

The first annual New York Comic-con brought out Milla Jovovich and was so successful, organizers almost had to shut it down. The second annual New York Comic-con was organized much better, even bringing out Steven King and Stan Lee to meet fans.

Below are some more insider tips for contacting your favorite comic book artists and writers at various comic book conventions around the country...

Meeting in Person:

Although most comic book creators, artists, and writers will tell you where to send fan mail inside their publications, the comic book industry also takes great pains to make itself available to their fan base through conventions, expos, and fan events.

The general rule of thumb is if you wait a while, a comic convention (or "comic-con") is likely to be announced in your area, and the organizers will make all sorts of promises as to who will be there (most of whom won't show up). Buy your ticket anyway, and take a few hundred bucks and a good Sharpie pen -- because even if the people who show up aren't the people promised, they'll most likely be worth meeting.

Most comic conventions today go far beyond only comic books. They often feature actors, directors, television stars, set designers, comic artists, writers, and an assortment of retro names that will have you scratching your head trying to remember who they were. The show will usually charge around $25 for a ticket, but the attractions will last all day long, from rare film screenings to autograph sessions to bootleg comics for sale. Most conventions travel around the country so fans don't have to spend any money to travel.

What should you bring to get signed? Nothing really, unless you know someone is going to be there and you have some great piece of memorabilia sitting around relevant to that person. Usually there are plenty of items for sale at comic conventions you can purchase to have signed.

Prices at convention's vendor booths are usually not cheap, however you can pick up some really neat pieces of pop culture memorabilia if you look hard enough, and the chance to get that item signed by its creator can be something really special.

Comic book conventions and the comics themselves are a huge industry that gets bigger every year. Therefore, comic-cons are a great place to spot up and coming stars before their signatures becomes worth thousands of dollars when they really hit it big.

How do you find a comic convention I your area? It's pretty easy -- just visit the Comic Book Conventions Web site. This resource list all upcoming comic-cons, usually four or five per weekend, and it also announces changes to programming, cancellation, and contact information.

The better conventions come back the same time every year, such as the Mid-Ohio-Con, which takes places in Columbus, Ohio on Thanksgiving weekend. The 2004 Mid-Ohio-Con lineup included the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld and Noel Neill, the original TV Lois Lane, as well as numerous other comic industry names.

The Vancouver Comic-Con happens once every few months, while Dragon-Con takes place each September. Every corner of the country has some sort of gathering, but even if you have to get in the car and drive a few hours to a really good-size convention near you, the money spent in doing so can be gained back when you take that authentic John Byrne sketch and put it up for auction on eBay.

The big names of the comic convention business include the following:

San Diego Comic-Con International, P.O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112-8458, 619-491-2475

The biggest and the best, Comic-Con has become a brand name in the business. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts gather every year, some flying in from across the country to listen to panels of experts, get autographs, buy memorabilia, watch special screenings of movies, and just hang out.

Dragon*Con, P.O. Box 16459, Atlanta, GA 30321-0459, 770-909-0115

A solid number two, Dragon*Con takes on more of a fantasy tilt--but it's not just for Dungeons and Dragons fanatics. D*C gets bigger every year, and as the collectors grow from obsessed teenagers to well-funded adult fans, the money going through the registers keeps increasing as well.

Big Apple Comic Convention, 75-34 Metropolitan Avenue, New York, NY 11379, 201-865-3288

This one is in New York City, so of course it's big. If you live in the northeast, the Big Apple Con is the one for you.

Mid-Obio-Con, P.O. Box 3831, Mansfield, OH 44907, 419-526-1427

The Midwest really knows how to put on a show, and M-O-C always has an interesting lineup of names. It's not the biggest comic-con around, but it's got a reputation as one of the best.

Mega-Con, P.O. Box 1097, Safety Harbor, FL 34695, 727-796-5725

New York Comic-con, Jacob Javiz Center, 655 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001, 1-888-605-6059

Sending Fan Mail:

To write your favorite comic book artist, look for his or her fan mail address printed in the comic book. Or send your letter to the comic book publisher, whose address will also appear inside the book.

Visit Contact Any Celebrity for instant access to the best mailing address, agent, manager, publicist, production company, and charitable cause for your favorite comic book artists and writers.

For instant access to the best mailing address, agent, manager, publicist, production company, and charitable cause for over 54,000 celebrities worldwide, visit Contact Any Celebrity now at to search their online database!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Selling Your Comics on eBay

It seems like everyone owned some comics of one kind or another over the years and there's nothing like having a relative clean out some boxes and find your old treasure trove. But what do you do with them? Keep them or sell them? A lot of movies have been made from comics over the years and there are many more to come. Now you have to answer the big questions: How and where do I sell these things? Are they even worth the trouble? How do I know what condition they are in? You could go your local comic book shop, but most shops will only give you 50% of guide price - if they are even buying. And yes, there is a guide - a few in fact. The Overstreet Price Guide comes out once a year and is the benchmark for most comic shops covering every comic release from the 1930's to today. Overstreet will also show you how to grade your comics, but we'll get to that later. There is also Wizard Magazine and Comic Book Buyers Guide which come out monthly and tend to showcase the "hot" comics people are buying.

The problem with going to your local comic shop is simply this: if you do sell them, you have definitely left money on the table. "So what?" you say Daddy Warbucks. I know, for older comics worth selling, the cover price is under $1.00; so anything you get above that is fine right? But, if you bought a muscle car back in the '60's and still had it today, would you sell it for 50% of what the current list price is? Hopefully not. Honestly, when I have a comic I want to sell and I know it's worth a little bit, I put it on eBay. Wait, wait - eBay is not as tough to use as everybody thinks. The setup is easy and they walk you through setting up an account step-by-step. If you can email or check the weather on the internet, you have enough gray-matter use eBay. The next things you have to do it determine what condition your comics are in. CGC is a service that will charge you $10.00 to mail your comic to them (please make sure that you use something to keep it from getting bent in the mail...). Once they have it, their team of professional grader will judge you book on a number of criteria, place it in a plastic casing and the place a grading label on the case. $10 bucks may seem like a lot to pay for a comic that you only may have paid 45 for, but CGC grading will actually increase your comic's value to upwards of 100%. Even in a lesser condition. That said - if you want to try to grade them yourself, use the following guidelines:

Mint (CGC: 10-9.8)(Overstreet: 100-98)(Abbreviated as MT)

  • I can pretty much guarantee that your comics are not in mint condition. Most are already in NM condition by the time they arrive at the store. Many people want their comic book to be better than it is, but few attain this high of a mark. Those comics that do, especially CGC graded books, can attain the highest possible market value that is out there.
  • Outside: There should be no creases. The cover should have no fading and look like new. The comic should lie flat and not roll or have curves. The Spine should be straight with no rolling. Staples should be like new and not rusted.
  • Inside: There should be no tears or cuts. The color should be bright with no discoloration, or fading. There should be no stains or marks. Autographs are acceptable but may actually bring the value down, depending on your buyer.

Near Mint (CGC: 9.8-9.0)(Overstreet: 97-90)(Abbreviated as NM)

  • Most new comic books will fall into this category. When buying new comics, be sure to go through them and pick out the best one. That crease will turn a Mint comic into a Near Mint.
  • Outside: There should be no creases. The cover should have no fading. The comic should lie flat and not roll or have curves. The cover may be slightly off center. The Spine should be straight with no rolling. Staples should be like new and not rusted. Minor bindery tears are acceptable no more than 1/16th of an inch.
  • Inside: Only minor fading is allowed. There should be no stains or marks. There should be no tears or cuts.

Very Fine (CGC: 9.0-7.0)(Overstreet: 89-75)(Abbreviated as VF)

  • Beware if any older comic book is graded above this mark. Due to the nature of paper, discoloration is expected over time. Even then, for an older comic to be in the "Very Fine" category it needs to be pretty exceptional. Make sure you know.
  • Outside: The cover should be mostly flat but may have some wear. The colors of the cover may be slightly faded. Corners may be slightly creased. May have slight wear. The spine should be flat, but some lines may be visible.
  • Inside: May have minor printing and binding defects. The pages may be yellowish in color. There should be no stains or major discoloration.

Fine (CGC: 7.0-5.0)(Overstreet: 74-55)(Abbreviated as FN)

  • This might be a C or C+ comic book.
  • Outside: There will probably be minor wear. Minor creasing is acceptable. The corners may be blunted. The staples may have some discoloration. Minor creases are OK. The spine may have a roll to it.
  • Inside: There may be minor tears on the edges. Discoloration is OK as long as it is not major. The pages may be tan or brown in color. Minor stains are allowed.

Very Good (CGC: 5.0-3.0)(Overstreet: 54-35)(Abbreviated as VG)

  1. Comics in this grade and lower will start to see more and more wear.
  2. Outside: My have a large amount of wear including creases, fading, and discoloration. A better copy with a piece of the cover missing will fall into this category. The cover may have a price sticker or date sticker. The spine may be rolled. The staples may have rust.
  3. Inside: The pages may be brown in color. A finer copy with a tear repaired with tape. May have minor printing defects.

Good (CGC: 3.0-1.5)(Overstreet 14-5)(Abbreviated as GD)

  • A below average comic book. For a comic book to be in this grade it may have major defects, but must still be readable. Most new comics in this condition will have little to no value (re: 1985 to current).
  • Outside: A detached cover is acceptable. Creases, fading and major discoloration available. Minor tears and folds. Coupons may be cut from the cover. The staples may discolored, rusted, or even absent. Creases and minor tears permitted.
  • Inside: May have some obvious types of repair such as tape. The color of the pages may be brown. The pages should not be brittle. There may be small bits of the comic missing. There may be stains and other defects of the pages.

Fair (CGC: 1.5-1.0)(Overstreet 14-5)(Abbreviated as FR)

  • Outside: The cover may be detached from the comic. There may large amounts of wear including fading, discoloration, and stains. Coupons may be cut from the cover. Less than 1/12 of the cover missing is accepted. Major wear accepted. Staples may be missing. The spine may be split up to 2/3 of the cover.
  • Inside: The pages are often faded, discolored, torn, or stained, but must still be readable. Most of the page should not be brittle. Near the bottom of the barrel. Comics in this condition are still readable. Pages missing from the comic are not acceptable.

Poor (CGC: 1.0-0)(Overstreet: 5-0)(Abbreviated as PR)

  • Only the oldest and rarest comics will be worth much of anything when they are in this grade or maybe older comics in good condition with no covers. Most of these are just going to be readers.
  • Outside: The cover will show major signs of wear. May have large stains, large amounts of fading, rips, tears, and pieces missing. Spine will mostly likely be bent and torn. Staples may be missing.
  • Inside: Large stains and even mold damage on the pages. There may be pages missing. Marks, tears, and other things that may affect the story. Pages may be brittle and break at the touch. A comic in this condition is just like it sounds, poor. If you have a comic in this condition, check Overstreet to see if it is worth anything before just giving it away to a kid to read.
So now you think you know what condition your comic is in and you have an eBay account. Now here's the trick: type in the name and issue number in the eBay search box. eBay may show you anywhere from 0 to 1,000 listing for people trying to sell the same comic. Don't worry about these listings. On the left hand side of the page, look for an empty checkbox that says "Completed Items" and click on the box. The page will reload and now hopefully show you some completed listings for the same comic you have. Prices in red did not sell, while prices in green did. Look at a couple of examples of each. When you get ready to list your comic, make sure that you've taken pictures of any defects that stick out to you and have them ready to upload when you create your listing. Then write out a detailed description of the comic making sure to list Publisher, Title, Issue#, Copyright Year and then any imperfections you have noted and also the condition that you believe it to be in. Now the hardest thing you will have to do is decide the minimum bid you will take and then start the selling process. Nine times out of ten, you have a comic that someone else is looking for. But the only way to find out is to list it.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Legend of Pop Hollinger, First Comic Book Dealer

It's strange that most comic book collectors and dealers have never heard of Pop Hollinger. This 47-year-old retired teacher from Concordia, Kansas was the first dealer who bought and sold old novels, pulp magazines, magazines and comic books. Hollinger ran his shop from 1939 in Concordia, during the deep economic Depression, to 1971. Whether thousands of comic book dealers today have or never heard of Pop Hollinger, they follow in his footsteps: selling, buying and trading them.

Mr. Hollinger started his business selling periodicals in a basement underneath a grocery store. He sold most anything he owned, including classic paperback novels published by Pocket Books for 25 cents each. Soon, he grew his business, selling used pulps, paperbacks, magazines, and comic books. He specialized in comics which were quickly becoming popular. After a few years, he ran a vibrant business, even expanding his business which included as many as 15 to 20 outlets around Concordia. Hollinger even popularized a mail order service for interested buyers across the country. Selling through mail ordering made Pop realize that there was a demand for back issues. For this purpose, he would store issues for future business. For 20 or 30 cents a week a person could receive five or ten comics, respectively. This was an unbeatable bargain when you could buy one at the local newspaper stand for 10 cents.

1939 was a special year for comic books, which featured, for the first time, superheroes. No doubt he would have owned the most famous, such as: Action Comics #1 (first appearance of Superman), Detective Comics #27 (first appearance of Batman), Superman #1, Batman #1, Wonder Woman #1, All-Star, All-Flash, Timely Comics (future Marvel Comics) and Fawcett Comics. These "Golden Age" comics became "super" sellers. But there were also many other others on the market.

Hollinger used radically unorthodox methods for preserving each of his books, because he knew kids could easily tear them up, and many mothers threw them out in the trash. Pop soon found out comics did not wear well under constant buying, selling, and trading. So, he bound the books with brown or green tape around the spine and on the inside to preserve them from being torn apart. He also knew that comics were made of pulp which attracted insects, so he treated them with special chemicals that repelled them. He even took out the original staples, replacing them with new ones. Finally, he pressed them flat using a press of his own design that exerted several hundred pounds of pressure. Today's collector or dealer would never use this method of preservation because it would ruin the book's value. Instead, dealers and collectors carefully put the books in Mylar bags and insert a cardboard backing, so they won't bend or tear. Even so, Hollinger deserves credit for creating his own method of preserving them.

By 1942, there were roughly 50 comic book publishers. Each publisher produced at least 30 different ones, which totaled to several thousand different issues circulating per month! So, Pop felt the need to publish a comic book catalog. Comics came in all kinds of genres: science fiction, detective, fantasy, spy, humor, romance and many others. He owned so many of the same issues. So, it's no wonder he thought that selling comics could be profitable. According to the eBay website, his business ads stated: "Old or used comic books are worth money. We pay from 1c to $1.00 each for certain old comics... Be among the first in your community to collect old comics." In this same ad, Pop claimed to "carry a large assortment of every comic book published."

Unfortunately, in 1952 Hollinger's supply took a turn for the worst. A flood had come through his area of the state, flooded his stores, and ruined thousands most of his inventory. Sadly, most of them had to be thrown out. To make matters worse, in 1954 many comics that were published before were recalled by the U.S. government due to unsuitable content for children. But Hollinger persevered with his business.

Between 1961 until he closed his business, ten years later, Hollinger began selling brand new superhero comic books created mainly by Marvel Comics. In November of 1961, Marvel published the first issue of the "Fantastic Four"- a group of new superheroes who became very popular. Fantastic Four #1 started the "Marvel Age" of comics. Other "Marvel Age" superheroes were soon introduced: Spiderman, Ironman, Thor, the Hulk, Antman, and Captain America (brought back from World War 2). All comic (not just Marvel) published from 1956 to 1969, became known as the "Silver Age" of comics. Today, many of the early issues published by Marvel are worth almost as much as those printed in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Pop Hollinger was a rare businessman who had foreseen the value of comic books. Who knew how he thought that comic books were of value to be read and collected, not read and thrown away? Nobody would have thought to start such a dealership, especially in the late 1930's during the Great Depression. As a matter of fact, it would have been "comical" to have started a comic book dealership. Pop beat the odds by starting a business almost no one would have ever considered. If you ever come across an old comic with either brown or green tape along the spine, you probably would have a classic pulp gem owned by the legendary dealer himself.
By Harrington A Lackey

Friday, January 06, 2017

Top 5 Freakish Places In New York City

New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is an ideal fantasy getaway for any person. There are several activities to indulge in, in this city, which would be ideal for any sort of enthusiast of any field. Here, there are incredible bakeries, underground symbolization shows, historical buildings, and of course the very famous Broadway. However, equally amazing are the secretive and (a tad) eerie places that are existent in this beautiful city. Let us now take a look at the top 5 freakish places in New York City...

5. The Underbelly Project

In New York City, there exists an exhibition of street workmanship painted on the walls of a relinquished subway station. Where it is, no one truly knows, with the exception of those who created it and the artists themselves. The whole project was created in the summer of 2010. It is believed that the station that the Underbelly Project is found at is on top of the G train's Broadway stop in Williamsburg; however, there is no proof of the same.

The place is an exciting and adventurous spot to visit. However, you need to go and seek this treasure at your own risk, especially as the whole project has been an illegal one and is hence hidden from the public eye. And what's more, it's of course free. Hence, if a person wants an extraordinary story and an astonishing discovery, he/she should go in search for the secret Underbelly Project.

4. State Island Boat Graveyard

The Staten Island Graveyard is one of the scariest places in New York. It is in an overlooked corner of the city. The place is a small piece of Arthur Kill Road conduit where several relinquished boats slowly sink and decompose into the swampy grave. Everything rots in this burial ground, and it somehow manages to retain its frightful aura. It can be found on Arthur Kill Road which is close to Rossville Avenue, 13 miles away from the ship terminal.

3. Old Atlantic Avenue Subway Tunnel

The Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel, found in Brooklyn, has a legendary status. It was mentioned in the New York Times in 1893, relating it to tunnel pirates, and H.P. Lovecraft, in 1927, also used it in one of his stories.

It is said that Cornelius Vanderbuilt built the tunnel in 1844 for rerouting Long Island Rail Road trains that were accidentally running over pedestrians. It was deserted in 1861 and rediscovered in 1980. Tours to the tunnel are no longer conducted, yet discovering the passage can be such an invigorating experience. A trip to the place will surely make for an incredible excursion, provided you aren't caught by authorities.

2. New York Marble Cemetery

Imagine staying at a room in a hotel and looking out through the window, to find a lush, green lawn behind the building. Beautiful, isn't it? Now what if someone told you that the tranquil grass-park that you are gazing at is, in reality, a cemetery? That is exactly how the New York Marble Cemetery is. Located behind the Bowery Hotel, this cemetery, which was founded in the year 1830, does not contain tombstones. Instead, the dead are buried in underground marble vaults here, which are marked by plaques. This is why most people, who admire the beauty of this place, are ignorant of its other secret. The place is usually closed for visitors, except for a few hours on the fourth Sundays in the months of April-October.

1. Cold War Bomb Shelter

The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States of America, is indeed an amazing and wonderful piece of architecture. However, what many people aren't aware of is that this bridge also houses a secret Bomb Shelter, probably built around the Cold War period.

The hidden chamber, which was discovered in the year 2006, is situated just under the Brooklyn Bridge's entrance at Lower Manhattan. In the room were found provisions - blankets, water containers, medicines, even crackers! - that were to be made use of, on the event of a nuclear attack. The supply boxes bore dates 1957 and 1962, which in turn led to an understanding that it was made during the Cold War. The exact location of the room is however, presently a secret.

For you to apply for ESTA visa to visit the United States of America, all you need to do is visit the link and fill the application forms available, as soon as possible. That will help you to get the visa on your desired date of travel.

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