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Category Archives: comics

Uncover Oz In “Action Comics #987” On The Wednesday Run

It’s been a year and a half in the making:

A comic book mystery to rival all others!  A senses shattering surprise that not only changes the DC Universe as we know it today, but one that will have echoes and reverberations for decades to come! It’s a long-play reveal that no one could possibly see coming!

Well, maybe a few did. And it’s not like we haven’t all read over-the-top superlatives about comic book crossover event series’ before.

But the DC Universe Rebirth initiative from the spring of 2016 that saw the reboot/relaunch of their classic characters and publications has seen a swell in the comic book company’s sales figures. Their monthly offerings have delighted both critics and fans and has got all the industry buzzing about what happens next in the story.

Rebirth has been a success.

At the heart of that story, someone named Mr. Oz, you see, has been pulling the strings of heroes, villains and possibly reality itself, from behind the scenes.

Today, in Action Comics #987, Mr. Oz, finally, gets revealed! No spoilers below, but make the jump to the how’s and why’s of it all!

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Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 9-13-2017

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This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres and companies. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow by Richard Gray, Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It #3, The Art of Rick and Morty, Realm #1, Retcon #1, Sink #3, Dead of Winter#2, Kaijumax: Season Three #3, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…

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Rest in peace, Len Wein

I am sitting on my couch and I’ve just read the news that Len Wein, the creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine and so many other great comic book characters, has passed away. My heart hurts. I interviewed Len last year for a cover story I wrote for Rue Morgue Magazine #169 on the 45th anniversary of Swamp Thing. I’m sharing it with you now, and I would encourage you to pick up the issue itself from the Rue Morgue store as well. Meanwhile, I wish all the best to Len’s family and friends. I hope they know what an incredible legacy he has left us.

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The Saga of the Swamp Thing

Since the days of the classic Universal Monsters and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, there’s always been something ominous about the swamp that has made its environs ripe for storytelling. What surrounds it, amongst the overgrowth of vegetation? What lies beneath the boggy marsh and water? What things make their home in its depths?

Swamp and muck monsters have long been a part of horror comics, dating all the way back to the 1940s with The Heap, considered by many historians to be the original comic book swamp character. The Heap first appeared in Air Fighter Comics, and was originally a World War I German pilot who, after crash landing in a European marsh, experienced a strange transformation into a living monster of vegetation. Various iterations on the theme would manifest themselves over the ensuing decades in stories like The Thing in the Swamp, The Monster from Swamp Sinister and Beware the Man-Lawn (for further exploration on the vast history of the swamp monster genre, Comic Book Creators’ Swampmen: The Muck-Monsters and Their Makers from TwoMorrows Publishing is an absolute must-read).

Come 1971 and a new creature would arrive to join the pantheon of monsters from the depths. Debuting in Issue 92 of the DC Comics anthology series House of Secrets in July 1971, Swamp Thing would be the creation of two men – writer Len Wein, who had previously worked on titles including The Flash and Superman and who would go on to create Wolverine for Marvel Comics, and a young, up and coming artist named Bernie Wrightson.

Wein and Wrightson’s first Swamp Thing tale is a gothic exploration set at the dawn of the 20th century, crafted to be the stand alone tale of scientist Alex Olsen, killed in a lab explosion by colleague Damien Ridge, who had set his eyes on Olsen’s wife Linda. Chemicals and supernatural forces in the swamp change Olsen into a swamp monster, which then saves Linda from the murderous Ridge. The story ends with Olsen’s Swamp Thing heading back into the muck, realizing he was no longer the man Linda loved.

However, that wasn’t the end.

The sales figures for House of Secrets Issue 92 were the biggest for DC that month, and before long Wein and Wrightson began work on an ongoing Swamp Thing series for DC. Changes were made – the setting was now contemporary and the scientist in question was named Alec Holland. In the ensuing issues, the duo would introduce horrific characters including the mutated Un-Men, evil Anton Arcane and his niece Abigail, and federal agent Matthew Cable. Thought Wein and Wrightson collaborated on just ten issues of the Swamp Thing series together, their work would leave a huge impact on a audience of horror lovers, some of whom would make their way into the comics industry themselves (see sidebars).

The first Swamp Thing series only lasted 24 issues before it was cancelled due to dwindling sales, but the character returned in 1982 to coincide with the release of a Swamp Thing film from director Wes Craven. The film was a minor hit, and helped revive the character, who became a mainstay of DC Comics going forward, proving ripe for the creative juices of a variety of artists and writers. Among them would be future industry legend Alan Moore, who Len Wein, acting as series editor, handpicked to guide Swamp Thing through the mid-80s. Other notables who have put their mark on the character over the ensuing decades include luminaries like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughn and Scott Snyder.

With 2016 marking the 45 anniversary of the birth of Swamp Thing, we spoke to co-creator Len Wein (Bernie Wrightson has struggled with health issues the last few years) about the inspiration for his legendary character, its horror roots, working with Alan Moore, the recent mini-series he worked on with noted horror artist and Wrightson acolyte Kelley Jones, and much more.

Swamp Thing BErnie

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN WRITING COMICS IN THE FIRST PLACE? Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Be Caught Dead Without “Deadman By Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection” On The Wednesday Run

Hands down, Deadman is one of my favourite DC Comics characters.

Created by industry legends, Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino within the pages of Strange Adventures #205 in 1967, the relatively obscure character has remained ever-present in the DC Universe. In the last decade or two, however, because of appearances in Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Justice League Dark cartoons, he has slowly gained in popularity.

I was first introduced to Deadman via a seven-issue DC Comics reprint series in the mid 1980’s – stories that re-published the characters origin from those Strange Adventure pages, specifically highlighting the realistic and heroically-styled artwork of Neal Adams. I’ve since read pretty much everything that Deadman has been a central character in.

Biff Bam Pop! has highlighted Deadman and the comic book pages he graces on a few occasions, most recently in a 2016 Halloween-themed The Wednesday Run column here and a 2008 editorial call out (by yours truly) to have the character make the leap to the silver screen here.

Today sees the paperback compilation of some Deadman’s greatest tales, all illustrated by Kelley Jones, an acclaimed and fan favourite artist that simply redefined the look of the acrobat-turned-ghost-turned-superhero in the early 1990’s.

No one’s interpretation of Deadman comes anywhere near the one that Kelley Jones gave us in those Gothic tales!

Here then, is the low-down on the larger-market release of Deadman By Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection!

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Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 9-6-2017

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This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres and companies. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Lazaretto #1, The Black Sable #1, Robot Western #1, Secret Empire #10, Generations: The Archers #1, Wonder Woman #29, the Supergirl Annual#1, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…

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Songs for the Dead

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Questing! Swords! Necromancy! All of these things are completely foreign to me, sadly. Should it be sad that I’m not familiar with necromancy? I guess there is somewhat of a negative stigma attached to the esoteric art of RAISING THE DEAD. My upbringing tended to skew more science fiction and less fantasy so I was very curious about the independent comic book Songs for the Dead when it was brought to my attention. How did I feel about it? Hit the jump to find out!

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BBP! Guide To Fan Expo Canada: Day 4 #FXC17

Day four of Fan Expo Canada 2017 starts with an early rise and shine, a cold shower, a healthy breakfast, and a cup (or two) of coffee. Grab your backpack – we’re heading out the door for our last, but still busy, day at the Metropolitan Convention Centre.

It’s a long weekend here in Toronto, and that means today you’ll see lots of kids saddling up next to their favourite cosplay superhero or Pikachu for a chance at a photograph. School starts next week, and you can be sure that tales of #FXC17 will echo through the locker-clad hallways.

There’s always one-more-thing to get, isn’t there? So, as you pick your brain for that last item of fancy, here are the things Biff Bam Pop! thinks you should be checking out between the Sunday hours of 10 AM to 5 PM…

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BBP! Guide To Fan Expo Canada 2017: Day 3 #FXC17

Two days of Fan Expo Canada have passed, and you’ve been a good little pop culture soldier.

Perhaps you’ve got a full weekend pass. Perhaps this is your first day in line. Either way, today is giant-sized Saturday – and the Metropolitan Convention Centre kicks it up into its highest gear today!

Certainly the busiest day of the four day convention, Saturday, Day 3 of Fan Expo Canada, offers up a whole host of challenges and opportunities. Your adrenaline, for one, will be coursing through your body like you’ve never experienced. But you’ll need to be a pro, and temper that enthusiasm with the knowledge that you’ll most likely be in some long lines. It’s a natural occurrence and the real test is how you can deal with that pressure.

Pro Tip: go to the bathroom early. 10 AM to 7 PM makes for a long day.

Still, it’s all worth it, as you’re bound to bump into friends you know, and the exhibitors start talking with an aim to sell product. Some of the biggest programming events are today as well – and you can find all of them here in Day 3 of Biff Bam Pop’s Guide to Fan Expo Canada!

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BBP! Guide To Fan Expo Canada 2017: Day 2 #FXC17

So, how did things go yesterday? Did you find what was on your Holy Grail list?

Thursdays are meant to be a sort of Fan Expo Canada scouting mission – getting the lay of the land, what the price ranges are for the goodies you want, and meeting up with some friends…some of whom you haven’t seen in a long, long time.

Remember, it’s not a race – Fan Expo Canada is a four-day marathon.

But things really start to get heated today!

Still got those comfortable shoes on? Today’s a longer day, starting at 10 AM and running until 7 PM. So, loosen up those hamstrings and follow us into the fray of Friday’s Day 2!

Here are some of the things Biff Bam Pop! thinks you need to experience today!

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#FXC17 Exclusive Interview: John Bolton On Horror, His Art & His Graphic Novel: Shame

Artist John Bolton has had a long and storied career in comic books and sequential art. He made the jump from working in English magazines such as Warrior, to burgeoning American periodicals like Epic Illustrated, in the early 1980’s. He’s been working in and around the mainstream comic book industry ever since, as comfortable drawing superheroes as much as he is painting fairies, vampires and demons.

Drawn to the genres of fantasy and horror as both an illustrator and painter, Bolton has worked alongside some of the greatest writing names the comic book industry has known, including Chris Claremont on Marada The She Wolf and Black Dragon, both for publisher Epic Comics. With Neil Gaiman in The Books of Magic for DC Comics, he created the look of the reluctant boy-wizard, Timothy Hunter, based on his eldest son. His acclaimed graphic novel series, Shame, alongside writer Lovern Kindzierski, is where Bolton’s efforts most currently dwell, with the first three acts being recently complied into a single hardcover volume.

There’s a sense of wonder, amazement, power, and sexuality inherent in Bolton’s work, combined alongside an overt menace that makes a viewer full of trepidation. Even when his sense of horror is not manifest, nothing is ever as it seems in Bolton’s completed visual offerings.

On the eve of an infrequent visit to Toronto via the 2017 edition of Fan Expo Canada, JP Fallavollita caught up with John Bolton in an exclusive interview via email, and asked him about his process, his female-driven subject matter, and his recent work on Shame.

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