Joshua Middleton creates astonishing Aquaman variant cover art

joshua-middleton-aquaman-18-2017-copyright-dc-entertainment-jm

Joshua Middleton has created an astonishing variant cover for Aquaman #18. The King of Atlantis swims confidently through the ocean with a mixed school of sharks. A furrow of concentration rests on Aquaman’s forehead as he directs the dangerous sea creatures.

DC Entertainment has more information on Middleton’s artwork on the DC Comics website.

Advertisements

Forever Evil #7 – Comics Review

The conclusion to DC comics event, Forever Evil, finally arrives, and delivers a story about power, family, humans, and monsters.

What Forever Evil #7 offers:

  • The story of villain changing through his experiences: valuing families, and seeing himself clearly.
  • Themes of power, and a theme of humans vs. monsters
  • Comic book artwork that shows lightning strikes, and shadows.
  • Mature themes and violence mean this comic suits older readers: high school students and college students can look at this comic for comments about power, monsters, and character development.

Light plays across the panels: towards the end of the story, more light from the sun arrives. Massive Lightning bolts strike, and Cyborg strides into the watchtower, carrying the recently deceased Grid.

Massive lightning bolts casts both deep shadow, and bright lights across panel. In most panels, one point of light fills the empty rooms. This source casts long shadows.

One point in the art could have received more attention. Cyborg makes a dramatic entrance. He drops the lifeless shell of The Grid onto the floor. It’s difficult to image Cyborg would carry the Grid’s broken frame all the way back into the watchtower after their battle. It serves for a dramatic entrance. It’s not completely plausible, however.

A true criminal from Earth 3, a villain the Crime Syndicate tried to contain, breaks away, and clashes with Lex Luthor, who is experiencing change and character development

Since this story began, Lex Luthor has told narrated events as the viewpoint character. Later, a large threat emmerges. How the real enemy behind the Crime Syndicate operates is fascinating. For readers wondering what would happen if super powers and abilities were mixed and gathered together by one individual, the character of Alexander Luthor – a true criminal from Earth 3 – has a lot to offer.

He has the ability to absorb and retain the abilities of his super powered victims.

When Lex Luthor meets this twisted copy of himself from another universe, real character development starts to happen.

I look into his eyes…and I see mine

In this true villain – uncompromising and dark – Lex Luthor sees all his negative traits magnified; he sees his greed; he sees his power-hungry nature; he sees his cruelty, unchecked.

This is one of several character development moments for Lex Luthor. The flat, bald villain known for his relentless and failure-ridden attacks on Superman changes. He is human. Not a punching bag. He can be called human because characters in comics and stories who live through an experience – an arc – and are changed by it are no longer two dimensional. They progress, and show they audience what the have learned.

The type of change Luthor shows in Forever Evil #7 is satisfying for readers looking for interesting stories in comic books.

A human vs monster theme appears in the comic, in addition to a themes of power. Through Luthor’s story arc, value is placed on family connections.

Alexander Luthor asks Captain Cold and Black Manta if they are human or not. Later, Lex Luthor says that Bizarro is his monster. There is an clash between humans and monsters here. Sinestro is not human, but behaves like one – calling Black Adam his friend. Bizarro is not human either. Yet he tries imitate what he sees. In a scene where he witnesses Batman and Nightwing hug, he tries to hug Lex Luthor. He understands emotion.

Luthor notices their embrace. He reflects on his relationship with his sister. Clearly, the importance of family stands out to him. Meeting Bizarro, meeting The Batman, and meeting himself has brought about this value recognition.

There is also a great, short, comment about the necessity of failure. Luthor attempts to pull some of the stigma away from mistakes. Making mistakes on the path to a goal is necessary. That’s the place that Luthor has arrived at. The questions remain: what is his goal? and is his redemption authentic?

 

Forever Evil #7 is published by DC Comics. $4.99 USD. Geoff Johns (W.) David Finch (P.) Richard Friend (I.) Sonia Oback (C.) Rob Leigh (L.)  David Finch, Richard Friend, and Sonia Oback (Cover Artists)

Gold Coast Supanova 2014 Cosplay Part 2

Below is part 2 of 2: a Supanova cosplay photo collection featuring skilful costumes from the Gold Coast 2014 festival.

P1030782

P1030762

P1030769

P1030781

P1030760

P1030777

P1030768

P1030764

P1030754

P1030748

20140405_112928

20140405_122114

P1030776

P1030775

P1030770

P1030756

20140405_120824~2

P1030749

20140405_125210

Forever Evil #1 – Comics Review

Forever Evil #1: Nightfall

Lights in major cities turn black, and the Earth’s moon orbits faster, blocking out the sun. Darkness spreads, and DC comic’s villains rise under the command of the Crime Syndicate in the wake of the heroe’s disappearance. Readers might be reminded of Marvel comic’s Dark Reign story arc, where super villains from all the corners of Marvel comic’s universe seized control of S.H.E.I.L.D, including the peace keeping organisation’s documents and files. The Crime Syndicate has access to all the information of the Justice League thanks to a polite artificial intelligence calling itself “The Grid”. Now, they want an army. After that, control of the Earth’s wealth.

(This review includes some spoilers for Issue #1 of DC Comics’ Forever Evil)

Ivan Reis & Joe Prado (Variant Cover Artists.)

Continue Reading

Comics Review – Aquaman #16

Aquaman makes room for the Justice League, and several new characters arrive during the extended battle against Atlantis. There is a major plot twist in the Throne of Atlantis narrative, and the Trench return from their seafloor hollow.

Aquaman #16

The current character cast of Aquaman return to this issue, but arguably the real stars are the Justice League. Seeing the characters interact and work together without the bickering is a welcome, and somewhat of a good payoff after their shaky start. Aquaman and Batman work together to solve a mystery, despite clashing over leadership and the flooding of Gotham by Atlantis earlier in the story arc. Cyborg is diplomatic, and makes a major sacrifice to keep the team’s initiative and advantage against Atlantis. This is an improvement on top of previous developments – namely, the battle against the Cheetah.

Key themes that Aquaman deals with are touched on, however. Pressure from the media on Aquaman presents itself again, as an anonymous news anchor casts Aquaman as betrayer of the League in a news story about the Atlantean attack.

New Justice League characters previewed earlier in Throne of Atlantis arrive and defend Boston from the invading Atlantean army. Nick J Napolitano’s colouring is ecstatic and bright as classic Justice League characters arrive on the team for the first time in the new 52 continuity.

The pages where Hawkman, Black Lightening, Vixen, Firestorm, Black Canary, and Element Woman fend off the soldiers are only lacking in size and scale. Hawkman gets a full page to swipe at soldiers, edified in Pelletier’s detailed pencil work. The rest of the action, however is compressed into unimpressive panels. The scene calls for more space to showcase the hero’s dynamic acrobatics. Black Canary and Vixen could almost be tripping over each other in the current panel arrangement.

There is an interesting panel choice – a large jump between locations represented with only small squares. The Justice League visits the Trench’s hollow lair on the seafloor, and Batman asks Cyborg about Boston – a small panel shows Black Canary and Firestorm fighting soldiers, before jumping back to the first string characters on the Atlantic sea floor.

The narrative moves along with a major reveal that provides an unexpected twist. While it’s a spoiler to mention what happens, the revelation casts Aquaman’s brother Ocean Master in a far more sympathetic light. He becomes complex –  not a villain interested in violence and drawing plans against his nemesis – Aquaman – but a king protecting his people and his pride in Atlantis.

Aquaman #16 is published by DC comics

Comic Review – Aquaman #14

Aquaman’s family appear as Geoff Johns writes some family history, and kicks off the story that sees Aquaman clash with his brother and the justice league in the prelude to Throne of Atlantis.

Aquaman #14

Ivan Reis has sadly moved on: providing pencils for the Justice League, also written by Geoff Johns. We will still see his rendition of Aquaman in the Justice League, however it is sad to see him move on from Aquaman art. Pere Perez and Pete Woods both contribute strong art to several scenes. In particular, where Aquaman meets his brother – the Ocean Master – in a sunken ship called the Essex. There are flashbacks to their great-grandfather woven throughout these pages, and the visual storytelling shows us the origin of animosity between the “surface world” and Atlantis.

The ship’s captain drove his crew to hunt down Aquaman and Ocean Masters great-grand parents, and we are told a story of a vengeful captain who was completely overpowered by soldiers from Atlantis. Whether this is a warning to Aquaman, or Ocean Master showing Aquaman that he finds conflict with the surface pointless, is unclear. What is also unclear is why Ocean Master is kept in shadows throughout the comic, while the cover (see below) is a fantastic portrait of the supposed villain.

To return to the flash back story, Aquaman’s grandfather resembles the Aquaman of the 1990’s: he has a full beard. His blue scaled shirt also resembles a previous look for the hero. It’s great to see this small nod to Aquaman’s different costumes from the past decades here. Hopefully, we will learn more about this character.

Some interesting point are mentioned in side stories. The Black Manta is almost recruited to the Suicide Squad. He refuses Amanda Waller’s dubious offer of membership, saying “We know about it [the suicide squad]. We don’t like it”. It is a concern that Black Manta might be referring to a group of villains here. An Aquaman character created in 1967, Vulko, also returns. What’s interesting is that he is living in a Norwegian fishing community, and his neighbours are all aware of his Atlantean heritage. It’s a good example of surface and Atlantean people coexisting without conflict.

Whether this can work out on a global scale, however, is another question entirely.

Aquaman #14 is published by DC comics.

Comics Review and News – Justice League #14

I have an important update regarding Wallflyer. Unfortunately I have had to cancel any further fanfic projects. I will continue to write comic book, video game, and movie reviews – always (attempting) to provide an insight and ideas on pop-culture.

Apologies for the long delay in posting. To make up for the break, I have several new comic reviews to post starting today, and continuing throughout the week.

Justice League #14

Imagine Aquaman for a second –  a tall, blond man in a shiny, fish-scale shirt carrying a gold trident. Note that he can control all forms of marine life.

Sounds a bit silly right? Now image him in the Amazon river with a shoal of savage piranha, poised to attack at his command. This is one of several great character moments in this issue.

The League has stopped attention seeking and reveling in the media spotlight. They are focused, and dedicated to stopping threats like the new villain of the issue – the Cheetah, a revamp of the silver age villain.

In regards to the Villain – the Cheetah is a demigod trapped in a cursed knife. The story goes that Barbara Minerva, an archaeologist, channeled the Cheetah’s power. The Cheetah is her totem now, and she draws a range of talents from it – one of which, is sharing some of her power through a vampire bite: spreading the Cheetah like an infection (See Superman’s transformation below). She has lost herself in the rush of power.

There are more ideas in this issue on what it means for humanity to have god protectors – the League, in this light, is a contemporary pantheon. The Cheetah is what happens when god-like power goes wrong. The League are starting to get it right – they are listening to each other, delegating duties between each other, and generally not fighting with each other. The simmering tension between Batman and Aquaman is slowly building. Geoff Johns is writing an impressive super hero, fantasy comic.

There is only one minor inconsistency in the setting: The Cheetah hunts in the Congo jungle, however Aquaman is seen controlling Piranha. The fish are native only to South America, however.

Superman and Wonder Woman’s new romance continues, and there are some great moments of the couple having pancakes in Smallville, surrounded by plain clothed people while they are in full costume.

Justice League #14 is published by DC comics