Top 5 Comic Book Moms

First of all, I’d like to wish a happy Mothers Day to any of you who are mothers.  I kind of feel similar about today as I do Valentine’s Day in a way, although I do get behind Mothers Day since I can’t show enough appreciation for everything my mother has done for me over the years.  What I’m trying to say, is while the day is an opportunity for nice gestures, the contribution of your mom should be appreciated all year round, and she should never be taken for granted.  If it wasn’t for that woman in everyone’s lives, we wouldn’t be here, it’s as simple as that.  Anyway, since today (at least in the UK) is Mothers Day I thought I’d do a special Top 5 list today looking at the greatest mothers in comic books.  And for the first time since starting these lists, I’m having a really hard time filling it, so I’m going to have to get a bit creative.

5. Earth-2 Catwoman

So this was the slot I had trouble filling, bearing in mind I’m only using characters that I’m familiar with.  The Selina Kyle of Earth-2 gave up her life of crime quite early on, choosing instead to settle down with the Bruce Wayne of Earth-2 and eventually having a child with him, Helena Wayne.  Selina taught Helena all of her old tricks and skills, but with the moral code of Bruce who also played a hand in her training.  Helena eventually became the Robin of Earth-2, bringing the skills of the Bat family with the skills of a master thief.  Thanks to the strict upbringing of Bruce and the caring, loving upbringing from Selina Helena grew into a moral, righteous and incredibly brave hero.  Even when Helena and her best friend Kara get sent over to Prime Earth she has kept her mothers lessons in mind, keeping a level head and continuing the good fight as a hero.

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4. Queen Hippolyta

Although she often seemed harsh towards her daughter, Diana, the reality is that everything Hippolyta did and said was for the benefit of Diana.  She was an over protective mother to an extent when she tried to prevent Diana leaving Themyscira, but Hippolyta knew that Diana’s fate lay outside of the island and her protection, but much like a real mother watching her first born child about to leave home, she was worried.  Scared, even, knowing full well what was out there and what could happen to her.  But as I said, Diana’s well being was always at the top of Hippolyta’s priorities, something that was true from the moment Diana was “born” up until the present day.

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3. Sara Pezzini

For the sake of this Top 5 list, I’m going to be looking at Sara as an example from before issue 13 of Artifacts, when everything goes completely to hell.  During the first Ron Marz run of Witchblade, Sara is impregnanted (very much against her will) by The Darkness.  Note, she was not impregnated by the host Jackie Estacado, but by the Darkness entity itself.  Even though this was not something Sara wanted, she took the responsibilty incredibly well, managing to balance her life as a New York detective and as a mother, while passing over the responsibility of the Witchblade over to Dani Baptiste.  She didn’t close herself off from it entirely, giving Dani guidance where needed, but more importantly she was a very loving and devoted mother.  Her boyfriend Patrick Gleason was almost always on hand to help, but Sara was happy to take most of the work on her own shoulders.  She was incredibly proud of Hope, and for the first time in a long time she seemed genuinely happy during this period of her life.

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2. Aunt May

So it was a real toss up between numbers 1 and 2, but this is the order I’ve decided on.  I guess you could argue that May doesn’t technically belong on this list, since she isn’t Peter Parker’s mom, but she has done the job of a mother for most of Peter’s life and did an incredible job.  She had to deal with a Peter Parker going through extreme hormone changes, same as any other teenager, while also going through the incredible changes to his body from the spider bite, which would have caused even more extreme changes in behaviour.  And May did all of this while dealing with the death of her husband, Ben.  She did it because she loved Peter like a son, everything she did was to try and keep him on the right path.  And just look at Parker now, May could not have done a better job.

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1. Martha Kent

Once again we have another entry on the list that isn’t technically the biological mother of the child in question.  Martha Kent and her husband Jonathan were unable to have a child of their own, something they desperately wanted.  Then, one day, a gift fell to them from the sky and they named him Clark.  Thanks to the loving upbringing of the Kents, Clark grew up into the well rounded, moral and righteous man we all know.  Martha and Jonathan were the moral compass of Clark, and not only that but they managed to teach him an incredible level of self control without ever having experienced the kinds of powers Clark has.  They had to raise a child with extraordinary abilities, teaching him to remain hidden and fall into the crowd while also knowing what the right thing to do is and when to do it.  They helped him reveal Superman when not only was he ready, but when they felt the rest of the world would be too.  And, ignoring the New 52 for the moment, Martha was the one who originally made Superman’s costume for him.  It’s always going to be tough raising a child, but the Kents had to go above and beyond for a child that wasn’t even their own.  And what we got was Clark Kent/Superman, the true face of justice.  What an incredible job they did.

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Thank you for stopping by for today’s Mothers Day special, this was another fun one to do.  I’ll be back at some point during this week, beginning the roll out of all the new stuff.  Not everything will hit this week as I said yesterday, but we’ve got some fun stuff ahead and I’m really excited to start it all.  Thanks for your patience, things will be taking shape very soon.  Take care all, hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Weekly Update 29/03/2014

So it’s been a pretty light/quiet week on the blog front this week, hasn’t it?  Not without reason though, in fact the reasons come in a pair this week.  I’ve spent far too much time this week hunting down some very specific comics, which ended incredibly well for me.  The other, main thing is I’m realising that to put out as much as I want to on the blog front I need to plan ahead and give it all a little more structure.  I’ve been taking a fairly relaxed approach to the whole thing but now I’m getting sucked into this hobby more and more with each post I have to do one of two things; either cut down on how much I’m posting or get some organisation going.  The reality is I’m about as likely to stop doing this now as I am stopping reading comics.  In other words, it ain’t happening!  This week’s update is going to be more of an overview of the plan moving forward, with a little bit of cool stuff at the end.

First of all, since I’m so determined to do this one way or another, I will be kicking off comic reviews again (hopefully this week) but because I’m so worried about spoilers I’m not concerning myself too much with getting them out as soon as the comics drop on a Wednesday.  My sneaky plan, which will give people the chance to go and read the stuff themselves and also give me plenty of time to read them, re-read them and write them up, is to post all my comic reviews the following Wendesday after release.  So, for example, all the comics that come out this week from my pull list (02/04/2014) will be reviewed on here the following week (09/04/2014).  It seems to me to be the smart way of doing this, I’m just putting my opinion on new releases across, it’s not like there’s going to be any real impact in them hitting a week later.

Weekly updates are now going to sit on Saturday’s post every week, I’m used to my calendars working in such a way that Sunday is the first day of the week so it’s the last day of my week.  Seems like the best time to do it, and since I’m not moving the Top 5 off Sunday’s slot there’s no need to try and rush around getting two posts done in one day.  I’m having a lot of fun doing my Top 5 lists, so they’re a permanent fixture, in fact I have a list with everything I can think I want to cover and doing one a week there should be enough there to last about 9 months.  No doubt there will be firther additions to that list too, so I reckon I can keep that going even longer.

Monday is going to be a variable, some weeks it’s going to be a tricks and tips post.  Handy stuff I’ve picked up from various people or figured out myself for collecting, storing or displaying comics and other collectible items like statues and figures.  Other weeks, when there’s nothing new to discuss in that area, I’m going to be picking through my trade paperback and graphic novel collection and discussing those.  There’s plenty of material to go through there so that’s something I should be able to keep going on with for a good while, and hopefully it’ll offer up some new books for people to go out and read.

Friday will be the day I look through movies, TV, video games and animated movies/shows.  I’ll be looking at one title a week, and basically telling you why I love it or hate it, what works and what doesn’t, things like that.  I’ll be sticking fairly closely to the general topic of comics, though when it comes to the games I’ll spread it a bit further since there are so many awesome games out there I love.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be me days, I’ll be staying pretty quiet on most of those unless something huge comes up that I can’t wait to talk about.  I don’t really want to bombard people with new posts on a daily basis, and with the other things going on in my life at any one time I run the risk of burning myself out, which is generally bad.  I can say outright that these won’t all drop into place in one week, that’d be a little bit much for me so I’ll be getting this stuff rolled out over the course of a month or so, but by the time that period is over this will be the weekly schedule unless something completely gets in the way.  I’m pretty excited by it all, and hopefully you guys will enjoy the ride with me.

I did have a couple of things I wanted to talk about and share before I depart, firstly the incredible Kotobukiya ArtFX Deathstroke statue I picked up on Thursday.  My regular comic shop/den of awesome Nostalgia & Comics Birmingham have had them in for a little while now, I’ve held out as long as I possibly could but they’ve been down to their last one for a couple of weeks.  I could quite happily order one online, but I don’t really like buying things like this anywhere else, everyone at Nostalgia makes me feel so at home there that I always try there for anything first.  Anyway, this is the beast of a statue.

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Mask on

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Mask off

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Mask raised up

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Armour detail is amazing

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Simple yet very cool base to finish

The pictures don’t necessarily show this side off as well, but it’s a pretty big statue too.  And the things has a pretty hefty amount of weight to it to, which just lends to the well made feel even further.  As you can see from the pictures, the level of detail on the statue is phenomenal, it feels like a statue that was designed and made by huge fans of Deathstroke.  It’s exactly what I’d want, being a huge fan of Deathstroke.  I had to have this, maybe you can see why, maybe you’re not that bothered by Deathstroke.  As such a fan of Mr Wilson, I needed this in my collection somewhere and am thrilled to no end with the product.  Kotobukiya are leading the way with their ArtFX statue line, all of the DC products they’ve made are shining examples of how to do things like this right.  I’m weighing up jumping in and grabbing all of the Justice Leaguers they’ve made, but I can say for sure somethime over the next month I’ll be receiving their new Supergirl ArtFX statue and will no doubt be posting pics of that when it arrives.

Final words before I leave you, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet, get the hell onto the website of your nearest cinema, book some damn tickets and go watch it as soon as possible.  Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the greatest movie Marvel have put out.  It ticks all of the boxes for me, and while there is a decent amount of humour involved, it takes itself more seriously than most of the other Marvel movies, something I think the first Cap movie did to great effect.  It also adds an incredible new layer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’ll have you looking back at the previous movies (yep, all of them, trust me) questioning how much of the goings on were as they actually appeared to be.  I know that’s fairly vague but since the movie only opened in UK cinemas this week and if I’m not mistaken, hasn’t opened in the US at all yet, I’m trying to put this in the most spoiler free way possible.  I had an absolute blast watching the latest Cap movie, and one of the most important questions it’s got me asking myself, a question I’m sure Marvel will be very pleased I’m pondering on, “why the hell am I not reading any Captain America books?”.

And on that note, I shall bid you farewell until tomorrow.  Don’t forget, tomorrow is Mothers Day (at least it is here in the UK) so my post might not land until quite late on in the evening, but it will have a special little twist to go with the occassion.  Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend, see you tomorrow!

Top 5 Most Anticipated Films of 2014

Thought I’d take a slight break away from my usual top 5 lists of all my favourite comic book stuff and look at the films I’m most excited to see before any of them come out.  We’ve already had 300, but to be honest I’m kind of indifferent to it, I enjoyed the first one but wouldn’t put the sequel into a list like this.  I will watch it, but I’ll be waiting for the home release.  In fairness, this list does tie into the love of comics in that there are four films that have come directly from comic book properties, and the other has had comics made so they all tie in, in fact.  Shall we begin?

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

Right out the gate with this one, I’m going to point out I am not and never have been pulled in by the GotG, and have never read any of their comics.  Initially I was turned off by the idea of a maniacal talking raccoon with guns, I can get behind a bit crazy but that seemed a little too much to me.  That’s something that’s changed, I can see it being quite a bit of fun but I always find it quite daunting to get into a Marvel title because a lot of stuff ties into other books, sometimes requiring more than a rudimental knowledge of other characters and past storylines.  My knowledge of the Marvel Universe is pretty limited to Spider-Man’s little corner, and since most of his stories are self contained, I can jump into a lot of Spidey stuff without worrying about anything.  The great thing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is they know a lot of people going to view their films are in a similar situation to me, sure there’s a lot of fan service but you can go into these films blind and still enjoy them, still know what’s going on.  The only real ties are to previous films that have already come out.

I had initially said I wouldn’t be going to see this film, not really being interested in the group, but the above trailer changed my mind completely.  I’m in, and have every bit of confidence I’ll enjoy it.

4. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

I know that this trailer caused a fair bit of uproar among some of the more vocal fans on the internet, one of the issues being the use of dubstep.  Two things that I consider that makes me not care what they think, 1 – I loved the first film and can’t wait for a sequel, 2 – I like dubstep.  So screw them.

In all seriousness, Sin City is one of my all time favourite films, it looks absolutely gorgeous, the story lines interweave and lay over each other in an incredibly clever way and they had one of the most stellar casts in recent cinema.  I expect no less from the second film, we can already see that the casting is top tier stuff, the film has kept a similar cinemtic style to the original and we’re getting some returning cast members for some new stories.  It’s shaping up to be a great film, can’t wait to see it.


3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Landing in the middle of this week over here in the UK, Cap 2 sees a very popular story from Ed Brubaker brought to life on the big screen.  The unique thing with this film, though, is that the screen play was also written by Ed Brubaker, so we will be getting a very true adaptation of the original work.  I think this was a really, really smart move from Marvel/Disney, rather than trying to bring something new to it from a new writer or writing team.  Brubaker will have an idea of what can and can’t realistically be done in the film, so I’m really looking forward to this.  I really enjoyed the first one, even though it was almost more of a set up film for The Avengers than anything else (how it felt to me anyway).  Chris Evans in so good as Cap, so I can’t see what could possibly go wrong with this film.  Bring it on!

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

One thing from the Marvel Universe I absolutely love is Spider-Man, one thing I absolutely hated was the original Spider-Man trilogy, and another thing I love is the first Amazing Spider-Man.  I thought they absolutely nailed it last time, Andrew Garfield plays the part wonderfully, he has the goofy super genius down, the quips while fighting bad guys and the look.  Even down to things like the home made web shooters, the home made looking costume, the fact that it’s Gwen Stacy not MJ.  I loved every bit of it, and absolutely cannot wait for this one.  The only thing I was unsure about was the look of Lizard in the first one, but it wasn’t something I outright disliked, I just wasn’t sure.

And boy is this one shaping up to be a huge film, we have teases for so many possible upcoming villains, we have a fair number of villains for Spidey to go up against in this film alone in fact, and the stakes have clearly been raised.  The casting this time round was bang on, couldn’t fault it at all and I’m sure I’ll be leaving the cinema with the same feeling of satisfaction as I did the first one.  Good to see Sony Pictures finally getting Spider-Man right!

1. Godzilla

I touched on this yesterday during my weekly update, which funnily enough led to me doing this top 5 this week.  I’m someone that spent a fairly significant amount of time as a kid watching, rewatching and rewatching again all of the old Japanese Godzilla films.  I still go back now at the age of 25 and watch them now, I know that they really haven’t aged well at all, but I’m still fascinated by watching Godzilla take on a host of other monsters.  It’s fun, and it looks like this new film will be injecting the fun back into the franchise.

Fun was something the 1998 film sorely missed, it took itself far too seriously and we ended up with a film that wanted to be a disaster movie more than it wanted to be a monster fighting movie.  Looking back, that was around the start of the time where CGI in films was being seriously amped up, and directors could start flooding our cinemas with destruction porn.  I’m fully aware that a freaking huge lizard dtomping around a major city is going to cause some mayhem and destruction, but the focus needs to be taken off that a little and we need to be looking at some really cool fights, that’s what Godzilla is all about.

I sincerely hope I’m not hyping this up too much, I’m trying to keep myself under control to a certain extent but that little kid who loved watched old Godzilla movies is still here, just much bigger now.  This easily takes the cake for my most anticipated film of the year, let’s just hope that when the year is out it doesn’t make my inevitable top 5 movie let downs of the year.  Fingers crossed!

This post was brought to you a little late thanks to Real Madrid vs Barcelona and the 8 o’clock kick off, sorry about that.

Weekly Update 22/03/2014

This was originally going to be written up and posted yesterday, but since I hadn’t done any prep work for yesterday’s post and didn’t finish work until 10 in the evening, it seemed like a bit of a lost cause.  I was far too tired, and even though this is going to be a relatively short post this week, I still couldn’t face sitting here staring at my laptop screen any longer.  Besides, it’s meant to be a run down of anything interesting that may have happened over the last week, at the end of each week so whether it lands on Friday or Saturday is irrelevant.  The big thing to note since my last weekly update has already had two posts yesterday and the day before, so we can skip right past that and look at anything else.

First off, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is no longer my most anticipated film, not after I saw the newest trailer for Godzilla.  I love the new design that takes him back to his old look.  So I guess it’s not really new so much as they just scrapped the crappy design from the 1998 film, the one that doesn’t exist in my little world.  It’s taking us back to those classic movies with Godzilla fighting other monsters too, from what I hear, and the latest trailer looks to tease Mothra.  I sincerely hope this wasn’t a coincidental illusion in the trailer and they actually are bringing in Mothra.  Or Rodan, I’ll honestly be happy with either.  I’m so excited for this film, sure we got Captain America: The Winter Soldier next week, which looks amazing, but I can’t stop thinking about the new Godzilla.

On the gaming front, I really wanted to go back and play some more of Thief so I could get a proper, well rounded opinion of the game, but as always I keep loading up my Xbox One and jumping straight into Battlefield 4 multiplayer.  It’s so addictive, and so much fun I just can’t stop.  I also noticed that yet another Assassin’s Creed game has been announced this year, subtitled “Unity” which will be set during the French Revolu- oh you know what, I don’t care.  Over-god-damn-saturation Ubisoft.  We get it, Assassin’s Creed sold really well, give it a bloody rest and change the record.  Please.  The worst part is this is one of TWO Assassin’s Creed games coming out this year.  That’s actually getting worse than Call of Duty for chucking out too many games in too short a time.  Justify it all you like if you’re getting one, or both, but this is beyond a joke to me.

It was a great week for comics though, I managed to read Fables vol 6 at the end of last week, Fables vol 7 this week and Black Lantern Corps vol 1.  For anyone that hasn’t read that far into Fables yet, I’ll be very careful, but for those that have I could not believe the identity of the adversary!  That totally blew my mind, that someone who seemed so kind and gentle could be such a power hungry maniac!  Absolutely crazy!  I went and picked up my pull list today too, not read it all yet but this month’s issue of Harley Quinn has cemented it at the absolute top of my pull list.  It hits all the right notes for me, delving deeper into the mindset and personality of Harley, showing her working her day job and back under the guise of Harleen Quinzel trying to help the elderly with any mental or psychological problems they may have.  The final pages of that book practically had me crying with laughter.


If you like comics you really should be reading this

While I’m thinking about comics, this is not an actual comics point but a comics related point, I have a slight issue.  A storage issue, to be more specific.  I have the good old problem of safely and efficiently storing single issues like every comic collector does, but I have a cunning plan to deal with that which I shall elaborate on further in the coming months.  For the time being, my problem is actually the storage of figures.  Right now they’re sitting on the top of my bookcase, the one holding all my trade and graphic novels, but it’s starting to look a little crowded up there.  And now, with three Suicide Squad figures I want to get my hands on, the new(ish) Deathstroke ArtFX statue, World’s Finest figures out next month and Batgirl and Supergirl figures coming later this year, I’m a little stuck.

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Thing is, those mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg, there are considerably more I’ll be bagging throughout the year and much of my wall space is either already taken by, or earmarked for framed art.  This leaves me with pretty much no space left over for new shelves to go up, which essentially leaves me in a situation where I’m going to have all these nice new things to show, and no where to put them.  Any suggestions?  As you can see from the pic above, none of the New 52 DC figures being released, or any of the older ones for that matter, will fit into the little gap left for the top shelf, only smaller stuff can go in there.  There’s no wiggle room for the shelves themselves as all the others are perfectly spaced to house my books.  If you’ve got any ideas (that don’t include “stop buying this stuff then” – that’s not helpful) I’d be really grateful to hear them.

I think that about sums my week up, tried to keep things fairly quiet this week after LSCC took all my money away from me, and for the most part I’ve been pretty successful.  Thank you for stopping by, don’t forget to leave your smart display ideas in the comments section below and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

London Super Comic Con, Part 2

So this is the part where I get to show off all the cool stuff I came away with.  I haven’t taken pictures of everything, only the important stuff and I’d also like to point out that I took the photos about ten minutes before typing this up, so it’s all done under a crappy bulb with my phone.  Not the best, but it means I can just get this done without digging the cable for my actual camera out (shows how much I use that!).  So, where to start?  Ok, we’ll go from prints, to blank variant sketches, to really cool stuff and then anything noteworthy that pops into my head that I haven’t bothered to photograph.

The three prints I picked up over the convention were pretty cool, I picked up the limited to 200 LSCC 2014 Judge Dredd print, which funnily enough didn’t have Dredd himself on, instead it had the Dark Judges and Judge Anderson on.  It’s a Frank Cho piece, looks really nice but is the one print I don’t have a pic of.  It’s slotted quite tightly into a convention bag and I’m not sure I can get it back in again, so it’ll remain in there until I can get it framed.  Then, as I mentioned yesterday, I picked up two pieces from Jamie Tyndall, one of Sara Pezzini and the Witchblade, and one of Harley Quinn.  It’s funny, because it turned out to be a very Harley Quinn centred weekend for me.  Anyway, these are the prints.

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Jamie had a couple of different Harley prints, but the thing that really sold me on this one was what he did with the hammer, it’s got a really cool, makeshift yet genius design to it.  And it looks like it’s going to do some pretty serious damage.  What I didn’t notice until Matt looked at it was Catwoman, can you see her?  And when I saw that it was £20 a print or two for £30, carried on going through them and saw he’d done a Witchblade one, that was that.  I’m a huge fan of Witchblade, a nice piece of Witchblade art is an easy sell to me.

So the blank variant sketches came from Federica Manfredi, Jack Lawrence and Andy Clift.  From Federica, I had a steampunk styled Black Cat.  I’d been wandering round with a blank variant of The Defenders (the series that featured Black Cat) looking for an artist I thought would be an ideal fit for a Black Cat commission and stumbled upon Federica in the corner.  I chatted to her a bit while checking out her art and, lo and behold, she had a few pages from Spider-Man Family she’d worked on featuring none other than Black Cat.  And it was absolutely perfect, she has a real knack for drawing Felicia, so when I put the idea to her that she do her in a steampunk style, Federica was well up for it.  This is what I got back, which I’m thrilled with.

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Next up, as I was wondering around artists alley I came across Jack “Jackademus” Lawrence and his buddy behind their table.  I’d been chatting to a guy in the queue for Gary Frank and after bumping into him again he suggested I go check out his work.  I had a look and Jack seems to cover a very wide variety of styles, but one thing he excells at is a very american animated style.  That’s when it hit me, I had the perfect blank variant in my bag for this man, I put my idea across and he was interested.  Granted, it was something he’d had quite a few requests for, on this exact blank variant, but it was something he enjoyed doing so much he didn’t mind.  He also said he does each one differently so it never gets boring.  Anyway, enough of the suspense, right?

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How good is that?  The guy has this wonderful ability to emulate Bruce Timm’s style without just being a straight up rip off.  I was so thrilled with this piece, it’s one a really can’t wait to get framed and up on the wall.  Next up was the blank variant from Andy Clift.  Andy works in the comic industry as a flatter, although I’ll be honest I don’t exactly know what this entails, he is also a damn fine artist.  Anyone that follows British indie comics will hopefully be aware of Andy’s own work, Bertie Bear, which is probably one of the coolest and most fun things out there at the moment.  He’s also a huge Green Lantern fan.  Can you see where this one is going?

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That’s right, Bertie Bear the Green Lantern.  It goes to show what an absolutely awesome dude Andy is too in that he only charged £10 for this commission like his others, but would normally only do black and white.  He said he felt this needed the colour though, and did it for me at no extra cost.  And in all honesty, I’d have had no issue with giving the guy more money for this.  It’s set me off now too, I’m going to buy up more copies of this blank variant and get all the different Lantern Corps’ represented by Bertie at various conventions.  Next one will be a Sinestro Corps Bertie, you will fear the bear!

But wait!  There’s one more!  This is unbelievably cool, so prepare yourself for this.  I’m going to talk about this one after the picture, I don’t want to give anything away…

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That’s right folks, this is a Dan Slott original piece.  He apologised profusely the entire time he was doing this for me, but actually it’s one of the best things I’ve come away with.  I love it.  It will be framed along with the others and displayed on my wall, but the main thing is I think it’s really cool that even though he is no artist, he’s willing to get into the spirit of things and do stuff like this for the fans.  What a legend!

I think the only other thing I really want to talk about is the three first appearance books I picked up.  These varied wildly in price, one being mega cheap and one not so, but all three are for characters I love so I was happy with the prices I paid.  First up, we have Detective Comics #648, where we have the first appearance of Spoiler.  I was also after #647 which is the first appearance of Stephanie Brown, not in any guise or costume, but no one had that one.  This issue setting me back a whopping £1, most likely due to the fact that Spoiler/Stephanie isn’t a hugely popular character.  She’s one of those that has a very loyal following, but not a particularly big one.

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Next up was New Teen Titans from 1980, also known as the first appearance of Deathstroke the Terminator.  This was one I was thrilled to see, and due to the price tag, I picked it up immediately.  It set me back £12, which for a thirty year old comic in good condition which also happens to be the first appearance of one of my all time favourites is an absolute steal.  I haven’t dared open it, however, all I’ve done is transfer it from the bag it came in to one of my own, and stashed it safely away for the time being.  I’m not normally one for buying a comic and not reading it, but in this case I’m not going to risk it.

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As a quick note, that’s my headphones wire in the way of the photo, not a dirty black mark on the comic.  I noticed it after I’d sat down and couldn’t be bothered to get back up again.  This next one is the most special to me, however, with it being a huge first appearance.  It also cost me the most at £110.

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Can you guess who this one is?  If you guessed right, give yourself a pat on the back.  If not, no worries.  It’s the first appearance of the one and only Harley Quinn.  At least, her first appearance in comics anyway since she originally debuted in Batman the Animated Series.  This is in freaking mint condition, at least the covers are anyway.  I haven’t dared open it for fear of damaging it in some way, but even though in this condition I think I could sell it on for a lot more than I paid, the value of owning this to me is priceless.  Ever since seeing her for the first time in the animated series, Harley has been a top favourite of mine, as is the case with many people I’m sure.  Funny thing with this one though, when I first spotted it on the Sunday I knew straight away what it was but held off for the time being.  It was coming quite close to the point where prices start getting slashed and since it was an American seller (Midtown Comics) I was hoping they might drop it a bit.  The guy behind the table pretty much said this himself.

So I go outside for a cigarette, constantly thinking about this comic and still with £160 in my wallet.  This was moeny that I had earmarked purely for buying stuff over the weekend, and having saved £75 by giving up on Gary Frank, it almost felt like it was meant to be.  Then I got a little jittery, thinking that someone else might have just seen it like myself and gone for it, so I finished my smoke and raced back to the hall, straight over to Midtown Comics.  I’d decided before I finished my smoke I was buying it, and decided to not wait and see if it dropped so I could guarantee 100% it would be mine.  When I asked the guy to get it down for me so I could buy it, they said someone had been asking about it while I was gone, nearly bought it and then wandered off, intending to come back shortly.

Talk about close!  They even threw in a free trade paperback of my choice with the purchase, which I thought was really cool.  I got Batman: A Death in the Family.  Not read it yet but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.  I think picking up that particular issue was probably the highlight of my weekend, the only problem is this has kicked off a new thing for me now.  I already have a pretty hefty pull list, a trade paperback and graphic novel addiction, loads of old series I’m collecting in singles, a fairly recent addiction to collecting action figures and another hobby in the form of video games.  Now I’m picking up first appearances, which I know is going to get damned expensive.  But, even though I’m not one for selling this sort of stuff on at any point, those key issues with first appearances of major characters are the ones that only appreciate in value, so if I ever came to sell on, a fair few of them would go for nice amounts.

I’m picking up a load of frames next week, so I’ll put up pictures in next week’s Friday update so you can see how it looks.  Either that or I’ll do a special post for the frames themselves, since I’m not using a professional framer or the £15 specialist comic frames.  Anyway, I think that about covers that off, thanks for stopping by and let me know what you think of the treasure!

London Super Comic Con 2014, Part 1

Ok ok, I know I said this would be done yesterday and that the second part would be up today, but oh boy did I underestimate just how much sorting out would be required when I got home.  Comics bought needed bagging and boarding (there were a LOT), shelves and comic boxes needed reorganising to accomodate new books and figures and art/prints needed filing away in preparation for framing.  But I tell you what, it was all worth it based on the phenomenal weekend I had.

I went there with my friend Matt, and we laerned our lesson from last years massive queues by getting early entry passes for the weekend.  This got us into the convention centre at 9:30 instead of 10;00, meaning that we could get straight over to the people we wanted to see first.  I’ll get back to that shortly though.  Firstly, I want to discuss the venue a little bit.

The Excel Centre in London is a genuinely awesome venue, it’s huge to start with.  There’s loads inside to sustain you throughout the day, a large variety of different food vendors and not one but two ever reliable Costa outlets.  To be honest with you that was enough for me on both days, I just walked around all weekend totally wired on coffee.  The convention itself was held in two halls, much like last year but the halls themselves were bigger than last year.  It’s nice to see a UK convention steadily growing in size year on year, and it speaks volumes of not just the growing popularity of the comics medium but also the quality of organisation of the convention.

The queues for entry, guests and artists were all handled extremely well, with the staff (I called them yellow shirts, so we’ll go with that from now on) making sure that none of the queues came near to each other, therefore keeping it nice and clear who each queue was for.  It was an impressive feat, especially considering that Dan Slott and Ethan van Sciver were pretty close to each other and both were very popular to go meet and get signings from.  The halls were laid out really well, with the panel areas all over the far side and clearly labelled up and a large walkway between all of the guests, the artists down artist alley and all the seller tables.  Not only was this really good for the number of attendees wandering around, it was good for those with large elaborate costumes and more imprtantly, it was good for those in wheelchairs too.  The only thing I think they could have done in that respect is lowered the tables a little, I could have dealt with stooping a little to make it easier for them.

Now, guest wise there was a fair bit to shout about, but there were two real main guys I wanted to go and see.  I wanted to go meet Dan Slott myself, I was also looking for a sketch on a blank variant cover from Gary Frank, being such a huge fan of his work on Action Comics.  So, seeing as there would be a fresh queue on both mornings for Dan Slott, I opted to go straight down to see Gary Frank and get on his sketch list.  I put my name down (12th on the list) and was told to head back in the afternoon to drop off the variant since he had a signing to go to later on.  Fair enough, so I carried on with my morning.

I’d like to point out now that this was the only negative I took from the weekend, but was nonetheless both extremely disappointing and a little surprising.  Twice throughout the first day I headed back over, leaving a fairly large chunk of time between each time and both times he blew me off, seeming to get quite irritated with me trying to give him money to do something I assumed he loved.  But hey, that £75 for a single bloody headshot went to much better use.  But that will be for tomorrow’s post.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t come away with an original piece from Frank, but with the way he was over me checking back with him and the snails pace he was working at, frankly (pun intended) I was put off completely.

Checking out artists alley was great though, the highlights being meeting Jamie Tyndall and grabbing a couple of prints which I’ll show tomorrow.  He was such a nice guy, happy to chat about his work and even willing to take a blank variant to do at home and ship it out to me from the US.  The only downside was it was £150, which I would have paid had I gone with more money.  I love his artwork, and how nice he was totally sold me on it.  As I said though, the money was the issue but I picked up the couple of prints for £30 instead.  A little more affordable, but still a show of support.

Second to check out was the more indie artists, the ones that I knew would be more than happy to crack on with a good sketch for me.  I ended up going with Federica Manfredi for one, Jack Lawrence (also known as Jackademus) for another and Andy Clift for the other.  I saved Andy Clift for last since we ended up chatting with him for ages last year, so I thought it’d be nice to have a good catch up again.  He’s very chatty, but usually has really good points to make about comic adaptations in film and TV, and is always an absolute pleasure to talk to.  I bumped into him multiple times throughout the weekend and had a great time just standing around chatting to him.  The blanks will all be up on here tomorrow, they have been tweeted already but I’ll put them here too.

On the second day, just after I met Dan Slott, we wandered over for his panel discussing his work on Spider-Man, his upcoming Silver Surfer series and influences.  He chatted about where his interest in comics first came from, the first stuff he wrote as a pro writer and managed to talk about all his current work without spoiling anything.  It’s impressive since he is as much of a geek as every one of us sat in on the panel, you can see how excited he is to be working on all this cool stuff.  It’s good to see, I would find it hard to get excited about a book coming from a writer that doesn’t have the passion for what he or she is doing.

All in all, this was hands down the best comic convention I’ve been to, and one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever had.  I had a great time chatting to new people, meeting some fantastically talented artists and talking to all the vendors.  I didn’t come away with all the comics that were on my list, the main thing I missed out on was Action Comics #252 but that would most likely have been out of my budget for that particular weekend.  I genuinely cannot wait for next year’s LSCC, and it’s been a great way to kick off the year of conventions for me.  This time next year, I would thoroughly recommend anyone that can get to London that enjoys comics go check this out.  No doubt next year will be bigger and better than this year, with even more impressive guests so go check it out.

Top 5 Female Supervillains

Ah, the top 5 lists.  A chance for me to do two things I love, talk about some of my favourite characters and look over gorgeous art for said characters while trying to pick out a picture to use for each entry.  It’s good fun, hopefully you’re all anjoying reading through them as much as I’m enjoying writing them!  As always, remember that even though these are presented as a straight up Top 5, I’m not specifically saying these are definitive Top 5’s, just that these are my personal top five from the characters that I’ve had a decent amount of exposure to.  It’s all opinion, so feel free to agree or disagree, and remember that I’m much more of a DC reader than Marvel, so there’s almost always going to be more DC characters used in these than Marvel.

So, female supervillains.  Much like last week, the only real stipulation is that they are a villain to a superhero, they don’t necessarily have to have super powers of their own.  In fact, looking at my preliminary list there are only two out of the five here that have powers of any sort.  Unless you count being really, really psychotic as a super power.  Seriously, really psychotic.  Of course, the other thing that goes without saying is that they need to be female, but if you haven’t figured that much out by now then I wonder, what have you been doing so far?  Did you read the title?  Let’s get on with this, shall we?

5. Granny Goodness

My god is this a weird one.  The right hand woman to Darkseid, Granny is usually charged with hand picking, training and handing out missions to the legendary Fighting Furies.  She frequently comes up with schemes and ploys to take down Earth’s greatest heroes and has earned her place at Darkseid’s side with cunning, guile and sheer brutality.  She’s unforgiving, relentless in her quest to please her master and takes no issue with sacrificing what she would consider pawns to achieve her goal.  And she has an incredibly ironic name, which I quite like.  Granny Goodness is one of those characters that, while not physically intimidating in any way, manages to instill fear in a great many people thanks to her close ties with Darkseid and her general standing on Apokolips.  This is a woman you only ever piss off if you’ve got the Justice League backing you, even then I’d still be wary.

One of the best things about Granny, though, is that even considering her age and less than intimidating appearance, she’s immensely strong and an impressive hand to hand combatant, so she’d probably kick your ass herself if she got close enough.

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She will torture you, then kill you.  All with a smile.  Except here.

4. Poison Ivy

A Classic Batman villain, Pamela Isley started out as a talented botanist having always had a love of plants and the natural world.  This was amplified massively when she was poisoned in a grim experiment, against her will and which almost killed her several times.  This drove Pamela over the edge of sanity, and with the discovery that she was now immune to all poisons and toxins, Poison Ivy was born.

Poison Ivy shows up in Gotham the very same year that the Batman does, and when she attempts to hold the city ransom with poisonous spores, Batman takes her down and shoves her in Arkham Asylum.  Little doesn Bats know, this kicks off an obsession for Ivy since he was the only one able to resist her control.

Throughout her career as a supervillain Poison Ivy’s talents have developed, eventually gaining the ability to control plants and secrete various toxins and poisons from her own body, seemingly at will.  Still, even with her new found powers and obsession with the Bat, she is still a plant and nature loving eco-terrorist at heart, frequently fighting against things like deforestation and other crimes against nature.  This is one of the reasons she’s a favourite of mine, because she is often fighting for something genuinely good, something worth fighting for but she usually does it in the complete wrong way.

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Sometimes she plays nice, but more than likely will just kill you.

3. Talia Al Ghul

Well Talia’s father featured in the previous post, so it would be crazy to not talk about his daughter since I think she’s a bigger thorn in the side of Batman than anyone else.  A highly trained assassin in her own right, Talia is unmatched by anyone in the League of Assassins with the exception of Ra’s himself.  She can go toe to toe with pretty much any street level character and come out on top.  Talia is often an interim leader of the League of Assassins, while Ra’s is out of the picture for one reason or another, usually because he’s dead.  And you know how it is, a man like Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t stay dead.

One of the main reasons I think Talia is a bigger problem for Batman than Ra’s is because he holds a great affection for her, a situation Batman doesn’t find himself in with another villain (before you say a word, I don’t consider Catwoman a villain, not really) which means that if it came down to it, I don’t think Batman could properly put her down, he will always let her get away.  It’s his one, real great weakness and thanks to that weakness, he ended up with another highly trained assassin problem.  Damian.  Test tube grown by Talia, he’s the biological son of Talia and Bruce, and is eventually handed over to Bruce by her to be trained by one of the best.  It’s an unusal move, and a clever one by Talia, keeping the Detective off balance.  She’s a very real threat in every respect, and while she loves Bruce, her loyalties lie with her father and the League so when we turn the tables and put Talia in the position of victory, if it came to it she would kill him.  If it had to be done, I really do think she would.

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Could kill a room full from this very pose.  Seriously.

2. Lyssa Drak

The keeper of the great Book of the Sinestro Corps, Lyssa Drak is a hugely important part of the Corps.  She holds all the stories for the greatest members of the Sinestro Corps both in a physical book and memorised in her head.  Unbelievably devoted to both Sinestro and his vision for the universe, not even the death or disappearance of Sinestro could sway her faith.  She would burn herself out searching for him, all the while regailing tales of his Corps to any and all she could.  And that’s where her great ability to instill fear in other comes in, she is a great teller of stories, so the tales she recalls of the deeds of the Sinestro Corps are enough to chill any hardened warrior to the core.

Lyssa was also involved in the training of new Corps members, once the first part of the initiation was completed with Arkillo the new recruit would have to go through the trial of the Fear Lodge, the success or failure of which would be recorded by Lyssa in the Book of Parallax.  The updating of the Book of Parallax was Lyssa’s main job, and this is probably where her main devotion went, relentlessy recording every major event that happened to the Corps both for history’s sake and for the ego stroking of Sinestro whenever he wanted to revisit any big victories he and his Corps achieved.

Lyssa is an incredibly interesting character, one it is hinted at as having the ability to sense the feelings and emotions of those around her.  This, in theory, would make her an extremely effective agent of fear. 

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The book itself is chained to her by Sinestro.  He’s an avid history lover, you see.

1. Harley Quinn

Who else?  This was always going to be my number 1 choice.  First introduced in the Batman Animated Series from the nineties, one of the best things, if not the best thing, to come out of the nineties.  Harley Quinn was the Joker’s other half, he brought her into the life of crime and subsequently showed her his love with constant physical and verbal abuse.  She’s a character I often find myself feeling really sorry for, since her mind was broken by the Joker and she was dragged along with him, she is almost always looking to impress him with various crimes and antics.

Or she was, anyway.  Gotham City Sirens really helped bring Harley out of that Joker sized shadow, forming a friendship with Poison Ivy and Catwoman.  She still slipped up throughout this period however, the lure of her Puddin’ just being too strong for poor Harley to resist.  More recently she’s done pretty well without him.  The Joker hasn’t been such a prominent character in the New 52 thankfully (not that I don’t like him, but there can be too much of a good thing) which has left Harley to her own devices.  Well, kind of to her own devices since most of her New 52 appearances so far have been with the Suicide Squad, doing various jobs for the government that she wouldn’t normally, looking for a nice reduction in her prison time.

She once again has her own series going, and it’s possibly my favourite DC book running right now.  Smart, funny and thoroughly entertaining, it’s brought Harley out completely and evolved her into a truly one of a kind character.  She’s still pretty messed up, and hasn’t changed her view of “if you can’t beat ’em, shoot ’em in the face” but you can’t help but root for her.  It’s nice to see her in some fairly normal day to day situations in her new book, seeing how someone like Harley would deal with situations like being unable to pay her bills in between taking down hitmen sent to collect on her.  Up there as an all time favourite character of any kind or publisher.

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Thank you Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.

And that concludes this weeks Top 5 list!  Thanks for stopping by, apologies for it being a day late but I suspected something like this might happen this weekend.  Going to have a great write up of London Super Comic Con for you on Wednesday and Thursday, would love to do it over one post but there is absolutely no chance of that happening, I got way too much to talk about.  So, it’ll be split between all the cool stuff we saw and got up to, and all the comics I walked away with.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all had a great weekend.