Category Archives: Features

7 Crude and Sexual Moments in Batman and Harley Quinn


DC’s growing more accustomed to bending the rules by the day, resulting in films that are clearly aimed at an older audience. Typically Warner Brothers reserves profanity, crude language and adult sexual themes for live-action fare, and not necessarily superhero themed live action fair. But in 2017 the market is still shifting and DC and Warner are looking for ways to keep up, and keep it edgy. The latest film to experience this growing trend? Batman and Harley Quinn.

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Underrated Storylines: ‘Green Lantern Versus Aliens’


I like crossover stories quite a bit, and the Alien was a creature to tangle with a great deal of unexpected foes. One of those encounters, their battle with Kyle Rayner, at one point the last of the Green Lantern Corps, still to this day goes terribly overlooked by many. Kyle Rayner is my favorite Green Lantern in history (he elevated the Green Lantern book from a stale dust collector to a bona fide second-life hit in the ‘90s), and I haven’t seen a single Alien film that I didn’t enjoy to some degree, and the comics have been pretty damn consistent for decades now. Bringing the two together was a brilliant decision.

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11 Awesomely Terrible Comic Book Movies


We’ve all got a movie or so that we really enjoy, even though we understand that it is an absolute Mess. This is my confession of loathsome love. Take it for what you will, as most of these picks may have you shaking your head in shame. But I’d be willing to bet you’re fond of more than a single crappy flick!

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Uncovering ‘Stranger Things’ Inspiration, Comic Book Uncanny X-Men #134


Titled, Too Late, The Heroes! The Uncanny X-Men #134 opens with the X-Men surrounding an exhausted Cyclops, who makes it known that he’s just battled Jean on the astral plane and took a whipping for his troubles. Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus among others. Knowing that Jean has joined the Hellfire Club, and knowing how powerful she truly is leaves the moral of this group entirely shattered. It’s a powerful intro that gives us the clear impression that things aren’t going to go well for the X-Men in Uncanny #134.

We immediately learn that the X-Men are trapped, kidnapped by Mastermind and have now had their powers negated by devices attached to each member of the team. Tough luck, right there. Knowing that Jean isn’t exactly aligned with the vision of the X-Men, her assistance is obviously nixed.

What’s interesting about this scenario is that it, in a way, mirrors the plight of Stranger Things’ child heroes. In their minds they’re all every bit as strong as the X-Men with their powers, but, like the X-Men they’re also very susceptible and vulnerable in such a state.

Right off the bat we catch up to (then) current affairs by addressing Jean’s stance as the leader of the Hellfire Club. She’s being manipulated by the mysterious Jason Wynegarde, who happens to Mastermind, all illusioned out.

We also get a quick introduction to Mastermind’s cohorts, mutant Harry Leland, the formidable Sebastian Shaw and the cyborg, Donald Pierce. It’s no wonder the X-Men are having a hell of a time with this little war. Those goons, in addition to Mastermind, in addition to Jean Grey? Forget about it.

But, the tides sway early. As the children of Stranger Things found backup in Elle (or Eleven, or 011), the X-Men find backup in a raging wolverine who storms into the Hellfire Club’s celebration shindig.

If there’s one thing Wolverine can do masterfully, it happens to be crashing a party.

Running with the Hellfire Club, Jean Grey is neither, Jean Grey nor Phoenix, she is addressed as the Black Queen. And she’s the key weapon in this battle.

But there’s a swing in momentum that goes unnoticed by most, Cyclops being the only one to pick up on Jean’s change of heart. She helps free Cyclops from the grip of the Hellfire Club, and he lets a little hellfire of his own out in the process. So, Jeanie’s back in the game… or is she?

A battle of the X-Men and the Hellfire Club ensues, and it makes for absolute chaos. While the X-Men found themselves on the receiving end of a beating just a few episodes ago, it’s the good guys that get off to a dominant start in the rematch.

Beast is introduced midway through the battle between good and evil. Now an Avenger, Beast must make a choice, summon the Avengers who will look to mow down the X-Men, as they’re being publicly portrayed as the villain, or he can go and do his best to get his longtime friends, the X-Men out of the predicament they’re currently in.

I think we all know the decision that Beast made.

The war rages on until Pierce and Colossus fight to a near standstill. But Pierce slips away, the cunning fellow, only to encounter Shaw and both agree to having suffered defeat since the Black Queen threw a major monkey wrench in the plans.

But the presence of something dark still resides in Phoenix. Something dark enough to essentially melt the brain of the Mastermind. Jean Grey is gone, and like Elle, from Stranger Things, she’s pushed to a point of what could be absolutely no return, utilizing her powers in ways she’s never done before.

Again, sounds a little like Elle’s final showdown in Netflix’s Stranger Things, no?

The wedge between the Dark Phoenix and the X-Men is now very firmly established.

Uncanny X-Men 134 Phoenix

 

25 Horror Comic Books You Should Be Reading in 2016


Love comics, but feel a little uncertain as to where to start exploring the horrific side of things? You know what we mean – the gritty stuff. The bloody stuff. The ultraviolent stuff. Well, I know that branch of the comic tree extremely well, so I’m going to provide you with a somewhat eclectic mix of books you should be reading in 2016. Whether vintage and modern, single shot, mini-series or ongoing tale, we’ve got you covered!

30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night

Vampires flock to Barrow, Alaska, where the sun sets for about 30 days, allowing them to feed without the burden of sleep to avoid lethal sunlight. When the vampire elder Vicente learns of this plan, he travels to Barrow to end the feeding, to preserve the secrecy of vampires. Because of the cold, the vampires’ senses are weakened and a few of the town’s residents are able to hide. One such resident is Sheriff Eben Olemaun, who saves the town by injecting vampire blood into his veins. He uses his enhanced strength to fight Vicente, saving the lives of the few remaining townspeople, including his wife Stella. Suffering the same weakness as all vampires, Eben allows himself to die and turns to ash when the sun rises.

Afterlife with Archie

Afterlife with Archie

Volume 1: Escape From Riverdale (Issues 1 – 5)

After a car driven by Reggie kills Hot Dog, Jughead asks Sabrina to bring his beloved pet back to life. She does, but with terrible consequences: Hot Dog becomes a zombie, and kills Jughead, who himself rises as a zombie and spreads the contagion.

Volume 2: Betty: R.I.P. (Issues 6 – )

Weeks after Archie and his friends left Riverdale, they are now following along the deserted highways of America trying to stay one step ahead of the growing horde of zombies that were once their friends and family.

Harrow County

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Emmy always knew that the woods surrounding her home crawled with ghosts and monsters. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she learns that she is connected to these creatures–and to the land itself–in a way she never imagined.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

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Set during the 1960s, Sabrina lives with her aunts, Hilda, and Zelda, as well as her cousin Ambrose, in the town of Greendale. Nearing her sixteenth birthday she must choose whether to stay a witch or become mortal forever. Madam Satan, a former flame of her deceased father, has returned from Hell and wants revenge on the Spellman family

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

arkham asylum

The story follows the vigilante Batman, who is called upon to quell a maddening riot taking place in the infamous Arkham Asylum, a psychiatric hospital housing the most dangerous supervillains in Gotham City. Inside, Batman confronts many of his enduring rogues gallery, such as the Joker, Two-Face, and Killer Croc, many of whom have changed since he last saw them. As Batman ventures deeper, he discovers the origin of how the asylum was established, the history of its builder Amadeus Arkham, and the supernatural and psychological mystery that has been haunting the area.

Fatale

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Fatale chronicles the life of Josephine, or “Jo”, an archetypal femme fatale who is seemingly immortal, having survived from the 1930s to the modern day unaged, and also has a supernatural ability to hypnotize men into becoming intensely infatuated with her, whether she wants them to be or not.

Through the decades, Jo struggles to understand and control her powers while being pursued by a violent cult. The cult worships cosmic gods reminiscent of Lovecraftian horrors, which are somehow tied to Jo.

During her travels, Jo also encounters many men who quickly become entranced by her, often to fanatical degrees. They become entangled in her escapades, possibly as guardians, collaborators, and lovers. A motif of the series is how these men pay dearly for becoming involved with Jo.

The narrative jumps back and forth between different time periods and points of view, primarily Jo and the men entranced by her. The majority of the action in the first storyarc takes place in the 1950s, the second in the 1970s, the third during the 1930s and World War II, while the fourth arc is set in the 1990s.

Locke & Key

locke and key

Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them. Home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…

Black Hole

black hole

The story deals with the aftermath of a sexually transmitted disease which causes grotesque mutations in teenagers.

B.P.R.D.

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The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (the B.P.R.D. or BPRD) is a fictional organization in the comic book work of Mike Mignola, charged with protecting America and the world from the occult, paranormal and supernatural. It maintains the services of several supernatural persons, including Hellboy. The B.P.R.D. originally appeared in the Hellboy comics but has also been featured in many stories under the B.P.R.D. title.

Colder

colder

Declan Thomas’s body temperature is dropping. He never gets sick, never feels pain. An ex-inmate of an insane asylum that was destroyed in a fire, he has the strange ability to step inside a person’s madness – and sometimes cure it. He hopes to one day cure his own, but time is running out, as a demonic predator pursues him through a nightmare version of Boston – and when Declan’s temperature reaches zero…it’s over!

From Hell

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“I shall tell you where we are. We’re in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We’re in Hell.” Having proved himself peerless in the arena of reinterpreting superheroes, Alan Moore turned his ever-incisive eye to the squalid, enigmatic world of Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders of 1888. Weighing in at 576 pages, From Hell is certainly the most epic of Moore’s works and remarkably and is possibly his finest effort yet in a career punctuated by such glorious highlights as Watchmen and V for Vendetta . Going beyond the myriad existing theories, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous, Moore presents an ingenious take on the slaughter. His Ripper’s brutal activities are the epicentre of a conspiracy involving the very heart of the British Establishment, including the Freemasons and The Royal Family. A popular claim, which is transformed through Moore’s exquisite and thoroughly gripping vision, of the Ripper crimes being the womb from which the 20th century, so enmeshed in the celebrity culture of violence, received its shocking, visceral birth. Bolstered by meticulous research that encompasses a wide spectrum of Ripper studies and myths and coupled with his ability to evoke sympathies in such monstrous characters, Moore has created perhaps the finest examination of the Ripper legacy, observing far beyond society’s obsessive need to expose Evil’s visage. Ultimately, as Moore observes, Jack’s identity and his actions are inconsequential to the manner in which society embraced the Fear: “It’s about us. It’s about our minds and how they dance. Jack mirrors our hysterias. Faceless, he is the receptacle for each new social panic.” Eddie Campbell’s stunning black and white artwork, replete with a scratchy, dirty sheen, is perfectly matched to the often-unshakeable intensity of Moore’s writing. Between them, each murder is rendered in horrifying detail, providing the book’s most unnerving scenes, made more so in uncomfortable, yet lyrical moments as when the villain embraces an eviscerated corpse, craving understanding; pleading that they “are wed in legend, inextricable within eternity”. Though technically a comic, the term hardly begins to describe From Hell’s inimitable grandeur and finesse, as it takes the medium to fresh heights of ingenuity and craftsmanship. Moore and Campbell’s autopsy on the emaciated corpse of the Ripper myth has divulged a deeply disturbing yet undeniably captivating masterpiece.

Crossed

crossed

The story follows survivors dealing with a pandemic that causes its victims to carry out their most evil thoughts. Carriers of the virus are known as the “Crossed” due to a cross-like rash that appears on their faces. This contagion is primarily spread through bodily fluids, which the Crossed have used to great effect by treating their weapons with their fluids, as well as through other forms of direct fluidic contact such as rape and bites, assuming the victim lives long enough to turn. A major difference between the Crossed and other fictional zombie or insanity-virus epidemics (e.g. in the film 28 Days Later), is that while the Crossed are turned into homicidal violent psychopaths, they still retain a basic human-level of intelligence: thus they are still capable of using firearms, motor vehicles, tools like bows and arrows, and of setting complex traps.

The contagion spread across the entire world, with the Crossed killing, raping, engaging in cannibalism and maiming for fun, with governments and military overwhelmed; friends and family butcher each other with anything they lay their hands on, and cities are turned into vast charnel houses. Much of the Middle East is wiped out when Israel deploys nuclear weapons. The last organized act by the US government is to shut down as many nuclear power plants as possible and then kill the nuclear scientists and technicians to prevent them from reactivating the plants. A few nuclear power plants were not reached in time, however, such as Wolf Creek in Kansas and Browns Ferry in Alabama, detonated by Crossed who removed the control rods. One by one the remaining military bases are overrun. Soon human civilization is all but gone, and mankind is an increasingly endangered species.

Nailbiter

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“Where do serial killers come from?” and why has Buckaroo, Oregon given birth to sixteen of the most vile serial killers in the world? NSA Agent Nicholas Finch needs to solve that mystery in order to save his friend, and he’ll have to team up with the infamous Edward “Nailbiter” Warren to do it. Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson deliver a mystery that mixes Twin Peaks with the horror of Se7en!

Neonomicon

neonomicon

Comic book legend Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, FROM HELL) and brilliant artist Jacen Burrows deliver a chilling tale of Lovecraftian horror!  Brears and Lamper, two young and cocky FBI agents, investigate a fresh series of ritual murders somehow tied to the final undercover assignment of Aldo Sax –the once golden boy of the Bureau, now a convicted killer and inmate of a maximum security prison.  From their interrogation of Sax (where he spoke exclusively in inhuman tongues) to a related drug raid on a seedy rock club rife with arcane symbols and otherworldly lyrics, they suspect that they are on the trail of something awful… but nothing can prepare them for the creeping insanity and unspeakable terrors they will face in the small harbor town of Innsmouth.  NEONOMICON collects Alan Moore’s 2010 comic book series for the first time in its entirety – including his original story, THE COURTYARD, which chronicled Aldo Sax’s tragic encounter with the (somewhat) mortal agents of the Old Ones!

Outcast

Outcast

Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

The Sandman

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In 1916, Dream is captured and encased in a glass globe in a failed attempt by a fictional Edwardian magician (very much in the vein of Aleister Crowley) named Roderick Burgess to bind Death and attain immortality. Dream bides his time for decades until Burgess dies. Afterwards, his son Alexander becomes Dream’s new captor. Finally, in 1988, Alex’s guards grow careless and the guards watching him fall asleep in his presence, allowing Dream to use the sand from their dream to his benefit. When the guards awake and break the seal Dream was in, he is then able to escape. Dream punishes Alex by cursing him to experience an unending series of nightmares. The rest of the story concerns Dream’s quest to recover his totems of power, which were dispersed following his capture: a pouch of sand, a helm and a ruby. The pouch is being kept by a former girlfriend of John Constantine’s. Once that is recovered, Dream travels to hell to regain the helm from a demon, where he incurs the wrath of Lucifer (an enmity that will have major repercussions later in the series). The ruby is in the possession of John Dee, a.k.a. Doctor Destiny, a supervillain from the Justice League of America series. He has warped and corrupted the ruby, rendering Dream unable to use it, and with it he nearly tears apart the Dreaming. However, thinking that it will kill Dream, Dee shatters the ruby, inadvertently releasing the power that Dream had stored in the ruby and restoring Dream to his full power. The collection ends with “The Sound of Her Wings”, an epilogue to the first story-arc. This issue introduces a character who has become one of the series’ most popular and prominent personalities: Dream’s older sister Death. She is depicted as an attractive, down-to-earth young goth girl, very unlike the traditional personification of death, and spends the issue talking Dream out of his brief post-quest depression.

Warren Comics Archives: Creepy & Eerie

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Gather up your wooden stakes, your blood-covered hatchets, and all the skeletons in the darkest depths of your closet, and prepare for a horrifying adventure into the darkest corners of comics history. Dark Horse Comics further corners the market on high quality horror storytelling with one of the most anticipated releases of the decade, a hardcover archive collection of legendary Creepy Magazine.

This groundbreaking material turned the world of graphic storytelling on its head in the early 1960s, as phenomenal young artists like Bernie Wrightson and Neal Adams reached new artistic heights with their fascinating explorations of classic and modern horror stories.

Severed

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A man haunts the roads; a man with sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. When 12 year-old Jack Garron runs away from home, he’ll see how quickly the American Dream becomes a nightmare.

Swamp Thing (Volumes 1-6; The Alan Moore Years)

swamp thing

Before WATCHMEN, Alan Moore made his debut in the U.S. comic book industry with the revitalization of the horror comic book THE SWAMP THING. His deconstruction of the classic monster stretched the creative boundaries of the medium and became one of the most spectacular series in comic book history.

With modern-day issues explored against a backdrop of horror, SWAMP THING’s stories became commentaries on environmental, political and social issues, unflinching in their relevance. SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING Book One collects issues #20-27 of this seminal series including the never-before-reprinted SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #20, where Moore takes over as writer and concludes the previous storyline.

Book One begins with the story “The Anatomy Lesson,” a haunting origin story that reshapes SWAMP THING mythology with terrifying revelations that begin a journey of discovery and adventure that will take him across the stars and beyond.

Essential Tomb of Dracula

tomb of dracula

The legendary Lord of the Undead first appeared in the Marvel Universe in the early 1970s–and Tomb of Dracula, the most popular of the House’s horror titles, scared up an estonishing seven-year run. Now, Marvel collects the first 15 issues of the classic, spooky series–plus Werewolf by Night #15 and Giant-Size Chillers #1.

Featuring the first appearance of Blade, the Vampire-Slayer! Plus: Dracula vs. Werewolf by Night–two of Marvel’s most macabre super-stars in a battle of the monsters!

Uzumaki

uzumaki

Shortly after Shuichi Saito’s father becomes obsessed with spirals — snail shells, whirlpools, and man-made patterns — he dies mysteriously, his body positioned in the shape of a twisted coil. Soon, the entire town is afflicted with a snail-like disease.

The Walking Dead

walking dead negan main (Custom)

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. With The Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, The Governor.

Essential Werewolf by Night

werewolf by night

Whether they came at him in committee, cult, or carnival, no nemesis was a match for Marvel’s highest-ranking horror hero! With some of the most scintillating supernaturalism served out by the seventies! Guest-starring the hero who goes with everything, Spider-Man! Introducing Topaz of Witches! Plus: the deeds of Dracula, the transformation of Tigra, and more!

Collecting Marvel Spotlight #2-4, Werewolf By Night #1-21, Marvel Team-Up #12, Tomb Of Dracula #18, Giant-Size Creatures #1.

Wytches

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Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they’re hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient…and hungry.

Postal

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The first volume of Top Cow’s bold new ongoing series POSTAL brings readers into the fictional town of Eden, Wyoming, a place founded by criminals for criminals. A place where, despite its inhabitants, no crime is allowed. Local postman Mark Shiffron has Asperger’s, and through his peculiar eyes we see a town struggling to keep its fragile peace, a town on the constant brink of chaos. When a murdered woman’s body is found on Eden’s main street, Mark’s need to solve her crime leads him into darkness and truth about the town he’s known his entire life and the hidden realms of his own psychology.

Analyzing and Ranking Every Recently Released Comic Book Movie


The comic-to-film trend isn’t going to end anytime soon. Hollywood now sees the comic book world as a previously untapped gold mine, and they’re going to milk it for all its worth. I say let them milk it! I’ve been a reader of comic books since 1992, and there are enough stunning and mystifying story arcs and comic characters out there to produce another 50 top notch pictures. In fact, that’s what we’re hoping the future brings us: more riveting transfers of legendary tales.

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Zack Snyder: The One Who Erased the ‘Man’ in Superman


Zack Snyder is a creative dude. When he sees something in his mind, he works with all he’s got to pull that idea from his mind and make it a true reality that worldwide fans can enjoy. Sometimes that tendency to think not out of, but far beyond the box pays off in a major way.

300 was a creation of pure brutal and mesmerizing beauty. Watchmen looked genuinely stunning, and while some aren’t too keen on the transfer, I consider it one of the better comic-to-film pieces the world has ever seen (especially given the time limitations they were forced to abide by; everyone who’s read the comic run knows it should never fit into a 3-hour slot). 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, though minimized on the digital effects front, is arguably one of the 10 greatest remakes ever made.

Zack Snyder knows what he’s doing, unfortunately it seems he’s taken on some radically different ideas about filmmaking in recent years. He’s done away with the nurturing of characters. He’s done away with deeply layered narratives. He’s traded all of that in for big explosions and outlandish battle sequences. He’s traded in artwork for a quick payoff for the attention span challenged.

His movies are a lot different in 2016 than they were circa 2006-2009.

Sometimes that tendency to think beyond the box backfires, in a big way.

It backfired in 2013’s Man of Steel, a heartless, extended battle scene that introduced us not to Superman again, but a different individual altogether. He was a moodier rendition of Jerry Siegel’s noble and selfless hero. He was edgier on every level imaginable. He rarely smiled. He rarely looked like a man light on conscience burdening. He rarely took the wellbeing of others into account. He rarely did anything other than damage property and villains.

On screen, Superman became another brute in tights… something he never, ever, ever was.

Up until recent years it seemed that Superman was always destined to be God-like under the warmest, brightest sky. Somewhere in the executive lineup of DC’s offices someone planted the seed that darkness was the way to go. The way to win crowds over… stick with that Christopher Nolan tone… even if your film shouldn’t have a hint of a Christopher Nolan tone.

Let’s just travel back a few issues of (picking from the hat here…) Action Comics issues in order to generate strong comparisons between the Superman we’ve worshipped forever and the hollow shell Snyder has insulted us with. This is a series that’s run nearly 1,000 issues and has served as a primary showcase of Superman, his skills, his respect for humanity and his understanding of the importance of blending in.

We’ll venture back an array of decades, and along the way we’ll note that the man can very rarely be deemed anything other than a symbol of hope for the people.

Take for example Action Comics #100, a book that sees “The Sleuth Who Never Failed” desperately attempting to bring Superman’s true identity to light. This chap goes to every extreme imaginable, yet fails to turn an icon into a common citizen of Metropolis. And Superman, he plays along, mildly concerned but confident in his ability to maintain a secret identity.

He never grows spiteful of this PI. He never loses patience with this PI. He never crosses a line and physically punishes this PI; the latter being something we could easily envision from a Snyder Superman film.

But let’s continue to move forward, picking random books to compare who Superman truly is, as opposed to the Superman that Zack Snyder wants us to follow.

In Action Comics #578 Superman rushes into a burning building. His first priority is getting those inside of the building out and far from flame. He wants these people safe, so of course he saves them, and with a smile on his face the entire time. Believe it or not, he even puts that fire out using the quickest, neatest way possible, so as to save the building from a “condemned” future. Instead of being recognized as a hero, he’s trashed by the fire department.

It’s a cold blow for a warm hero.

That’s just the beginning of Superman’s (and Clark Kent’s) troubles in the issue, as just about everyone turns on the man. Still, he maintains his cool and takes the lashings he’s been dealt in stride. It’s all very human, and very mature. When every last resident of Metropolis turns on the heroic figure, he doesn’t lash out. He doesn’t decide he doesn’t care about human beings. He tries, with everything he’s got to be appreciated again. It matters that much to him. He wants to squeeze into the warm spotlight, and he wants to do that the right way. He’s that human.

In the end, it turns out that Parasite has been working one of his twisted attempts to get the upper hand over Superman. It of course backfires, and all the wrongs in Superman’s universe are eventually righted. But what’s important is that no matter how hard and how far Superman is pushed, he never loses himself. He never loses sight of why he’s in Metropolis, parading about part-time in tights going out of his way to put the well-being of every last one of Metropolis’ residents at the very top of his priority list.

He’s still Superman… the one we care about.

Batman nd Superman

Moving forward about 10 years to (another random selection) issue #708 we see Clark examining himself in the mirror, a mean five o’clock shadow covering his face. How ‘bout it Clark? The retro Don Johnson look? Clark thinks to himself in one of the countless moments that remind us of how astonishingly ordinary he can be. And how informed on pop culture he can be, as well.

In this issue he’s got marriage on his mind. He’s still as busy as ever, but he’s got love circling his noggin to the extent that he has trouble not losing himself and constantly swooning over Lois Lane. He cracks jokes, he delivers flowers. He contemplates a perfect honeymoon. Once again, Superman – or Clark Kent – is very everyman, like you and I. And these character traits stretch back about as far as we can remember.

In fact, if you get your hands on one of the many reprints of Action Comics #1, initially released in June of 1938, you’ll notice an important frame, located on the very first page. We see Superman in a heroic pose, and beneath that image read the words Superman! Champion of the oppressed. The physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need.

Perhaps far more relevant than that particular announcement, are the moments that Superman is destined to face in the very near future.

Take a peek at the “Death of Superman” storyline. During one scene – midway through the arc – Superman essentially bypasses a chance to end the existence of Doomsday when he hears the cries of a young boy, trapped with his mother and younger sibling in a burning home, their future doomed.

Guess what Superman does? He finds a way to make it back to earth (Superman and Doomsday had been ascending into the clouds up to that point) and save that family. Why? Because that’s what he swore to do, right from the beginning.

While the “Death of Superman” story arc is three levels beyond amazing, it’s really just important to remember that Superman has always been a pure, sublime individual. And that last quote from Action Comics #1 really sums up Superman’s existence as a whole.

It’s about others, long before the man with an ‘S’ on his chest. It’s been about a lot more than super-fights for Kal-El. It’s always been about offering his own life for others.

But it sure does sound like we’re talking about an entirely different individual than the one Snyder re-introduced us to, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to imagine the humorless, edgy, unapproachable Superman of Zack Snyder’s films even pretending to entertain the idea of Superman’s true nature with any seriousness. I mean, really, does Snyder’s Superman even like anyone? Does he do anything other than work around the farm and cause 100s of millions of property damage?

I’ve got an astounding collection of print and digital superman comics (well over 1,400 different books) to rifle through at any time. And at any time I can pull up countless examples of a hero whose purity and selflessness completely eclipses every other superhero in existence. That’s the Superman that DC introduced and nurtured for what now feels like forever. And the beauty is, DC never stopped nurturing Clark Kent’s personality, either. He’s a good man that we can invest in, whether or not we know he’s a powerhouse superhero in his almost-free time.

Zack Synder doesn’t give a damn if you like the Superman we’ve respected for damn near 80 years. He cares about leaving your eyes bulging at the next massive battle scene. And, apparently, he cares about you, caring about the Superman of old.

Snyder’s films are cluttered with puzzling actions, the bulk of which are made by Superman himself.

In the earlier stages of Man of Steel we see Clark and his family find themselves trapped in the middle of a tornado. Clark stands by, yards away, and watches as his adoptive father (who he certainly seems to have a stellar relationship with) is swept away by Mother Nature’s uglier side. It’s the first major moment that we realize this Clark Kent isn’t going to develop into the Superman we’ve known for decade upon decade. That Superman would have flown over to his father, snatched him up and pulled him to safety before anyone not already preoccupied with the terror of the tornado (you’d think these people really did have some other serious concerns in a situation like this) could notice.

And don’t pretend Superman couldn’t do that; remember that through the years, in the DC world Superman raced The Flash on multiple occasions (Superman #199 – 1967, The Flash #175 – 1967, and DC Comics Presents #1 – #2 – 1978, most notably), and while I can’t point to a single race in which Superman clearly won, he sure as hell made those races competitive. If you can keep pace with The Flash, you can fly 30 feet and rescue your old man in the blink of an eye.

But again, Zack Snyder’s Superman is a far cry from the Superman we know.

Throughout Man of Steel we see a great deal of subsequent scenes that seem to completely shatter the core of the character we all love.

Superman isn’t racing to save citizens from falling debris. Hell, he’s causing mass collateral damage himself, shattering streets, exploding through buildings; no worries in the world what becomes of the tons of concrete, rebar and shattered glass crashing down on anyone and everyone unaware of the catastrophe unraveling hundreds of feet above their heads.

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Superman, in Man of Steel feels far closer to a vigilante than a hero. Superman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice  – at times – feels like an outright villain as opposed to a standard vigilante.

There may be 12 minutes in a 151 minute (what in the name of… 153 minutes? You’ve got to be kidding! We’re not kidding.) feature that throw out hints of a somehow humanized character. The remainder of the film is ever worse than Man of Steel… by a long shot.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice has no soul. It has no humor. It offers no enjoyment. It showcases no humanity.  It treats itself as the most explosive comic book film in history. And that, I’d venture to say it is. But what do we care? If Batman’s a total jerk, and Superman spends his time stomping about with the fury of a woman in the middle of her menstrual cycle, why do we give a damn? Why would we invest in a film that doesn’t even understand the basics of human nature?

Sure, Zack Snyder made a big, explosive superhero movie. But he made a big, explosive superhero hero movie that showed not a hint of respect for human beings… or those of who ventured to the nearest cinema.

Zack Snyder didn’t make Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice because he loved, or even had a hint of respect for either character, Snyder made the movie to ensure his bank account grows exponentially in a miniscule time frame.

Congratulations, Snyder. You’ve made yourself quite a bit wealthier. You’ve also shown longtime comic fans that you don’t give a flyin’ F-bomb about Superman or Batman.

Way to gain fans there, Zack – I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to destroy Superman than to pull the ‘man’ from his moniker.

The Greatest Books We’re Reading in 2016: Postal


Matt Hawkins, Brian Hill and Isaac Goodhart created a marvelous and engaging tale about a mail man with Asperger’s who finds himself in the middle of an intricate war and a bid for power. Postal is one of the greatest books on the shelf, loaded with fantastic characters and a few great twists, the popular Image title immediately squeezes its way into the must-read column.

And that’s really not a result of the book’s ruthlessness (it can indeed be pretty effin’ ruthless), it’s a result of nurturing of personalities. We care about Mark. We care about Maggie. We even become quite invested in the story’s antagonists. They’re a colorful lot, and the manner in which Hawkins and Hill blur the details and the line between good and evil, we’re never entirely certain of who is shady and who isn’t. I enjoy that enigmatic quality.

A murder mystery with some strong elements of horror (the secret’s floating throughout the town offer plenty of genre fuel, and things only seem to be escalating as the story continues), Postal is one of the greatest books you can read right now. It’s such a refined piece of work that looks and reads in pitch-perfect fashion. Postal cannot be avoided or slept on – it’s just too good for that.

Each arc is being released in collected volumes. You can volume one right here, while volume two can be purchased here. Volume three will be available for purchase next month. If you have trouble tracking down a few of the earlier issues, the old trade paperback is a safe way to go.

For now we want to bring you up to speed on the story, without spoiling it for you. Just in case, you know, you’ve had your head buried in the sand.

Dig on our top moment from each of the first four books.

Favorite Moment from Postal #1

Mark takes a bullet.
Mark takes a bullet.

Favorite Moment from Postal #2

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Mark begins the journey into his family past.

Favorite Moment from Postal #3

Mark meets his mysterious father.
Mark meets his mysterious father.

Favorite Moment from Postal #4

Revenge can be brutal and bloody.
Revenge can be brutal and bloody.

Here we offer you a look at each cover from the first four issues, which are what make up the first volume TPB. Speaking of the TPB, we’ve also got a look at the cover for that as well: