August 28th is Read Comic Books in Public Day!

Image courtesy of the official Read Comic Books in Public Day Facebook page.

August 28th is 'Read Comic Books in Public Day', which was created by Brian Heater and Sarah Morean at the now defunct indie comics website The Daily Cross Hatch. It's a way to raise awareness of comic books and to help promote readership. It's also, by no small coincidence, comic book legend Jack Kirby's birthday!

Whether people realize it or not, comic books have an important place in modern (and classic) literature. It's not just a book, but it's also a piece of sequential art.

Comic books are the best of both worlds!

No need to be ashamed that your an adult (young or old) reading a book with pictures in it. We, as a comic book loving community, should share our love for them and let people know by reading them in public.

A very good example of the important role comic books play in literacy, hits close to home for me. My youngest son, Dakotah, absolutely hated reading. As a matter of fact he struggled doing it, which certainly contributed to the vitriole. However, since he started reading Captain America by Rick Remender, he has sat down to read a book once a month. And he probably doesn't even realize he's doing it!

There's still a majority of people out there who don't view comic books as real literature. They still think that they're 'kids books' and that those of us doing it need to 'grow up'. The less reading we do in our homes and the more we do out in public, will show others that there are great comic books out there to be read.

And, most importantly, they aren't just for kids!

Here are a few places that provide excellent opportunities to read comic books in public (other than your local comic shop):
  • Bus Stops
  • On the Bus
  • Coffee Shops
  • Breakrooms
  • Parks
  • Beaches
  • Waiting Rooms
    • Doctor
    • Dentist
    • Auto Repair
Don't forget to have a couple extra handy in case someone is inspired and wants to flip through one!

So get out there and read those comic books in public and come back to let me know if it sparks conversation or if you have any interesting stories to tell.

Where do you plan on reading?

<- That there is your Comic Book Nerd reading at his daughter's Cheerleading practice!

A Marvel Dice Master's Post: It Theme's Impossible (But Cyclops Rocks!)

Cyclops' power gets tremendous
respect from Dice Master's.
One of the things I love about WizKids' Marvel Dice Master's is the ability to put together your 'Dream Team' of character's. Cyclops is my favorite of the X-Men and since the game's release, I've been trying to find a team to build around him.

It seems impossible, but it's not.

This game isn't just about putting a bunch of characters together that have cool powers. They need to work together. And depending on the size of the team your assembling, you could have some trouble. There are character's in the game that work well together like Angel "Soaring" and Dr. Strange "Master of the Mystic Arts". Then there are characters that help you build up to that one hero that can win the day.

First let me get the Basic Actions out of the way. Power Bolt and Distraction will be required to keep with the theme. Power Bolt IS Cyclops and Distraction allows you to keep any big time blockers, that Cyclops isn't strong enough to KO, from hurting your attackers. Also the global for Distraction, which is used after blockers are assigned, allows you to pull him back AFTER he's cleared the field.

Combining him with the Distraction global makes Cyclops "If Looks Could Kill" an all out Blitzkrieg-ing Tank!

The 4 character team

With only four characters on my team, the game will move fast. ULTRA fast. If I'm truly dedicated to having a Cyclops, or any of the other high cost cards, I most likely won't get any of them out. The only point in having a 7 cost character is for their global and therefore I'm restricted by who I can use. I need cheap characters and the only one that makes sense here is Cyclops "Slim", even if it's hard to see the value in his ability.

There are characters (like Beast) that benefit from stacking blockers to activate their abilities. "Slim" deters that because they'll all get knocked out for their bravery. But can you get him out before it's too late?

A 4 character team is about beating your opponent to the punch. Therefore putting together a winning combination that also makes sense thematically is darn near impossible. Cyclops makes no sense here as he'll never see the field and just take up space better occupied by someone more efficient in the short game.

You NEED cheap options and while Beast and Cyclops make sense, I'm hard pressed to figure out what Green Goblin or Black Widow would be doing on a team with Cyke. So if anything I would toss in Storm "African Priestess" to round out the team.

Beast "Mutate 666"
Angel "Soaring"
Storm "African Priestess"
Cyclops "Slim"

Theme: Good
Quality: Bad

The 6 character team

In my opinion this is the 'sweet spot' for gameplay. Enough characters that warrant a 7 cost but it won't take you 45 minutes to complete a game. I may not get to purchase him, but it feels good to have him out on the field. Depending on what your opponent brings to the table, and how the dice roll, I may find myself excited to be at a point where purchasing that Cyclops "If Looks Could Kill" changes the tide of the battle.

I'll start the game by running out 2 and 3 cost characters but as it wears on, if you haven't defeated your opponent and the defensive walls are building; having that 7 cost waiting in the wings sure comes in handy. Cyclops ILCK will clear your opponents field and allow your characters to walk in uninvited to crash the party. It becomes easier to run out a successful team with a believeable theme here.

I can have Beast and Angel as cheap options to get me started. Beast will counter my opponents "Gobby" deck as the attacks only boost my prep area, allowing me to get Cyclops faster. Since his power clears the field, it renders "Gobby" useless once Cyke steps up. Then I can toss in another "Gobby" deterrent in the form of Storm "Goddess of the Plains", to thin out the numbers. The 6 character team will buy me the time to pay the energy needed for a more powerful Storm on the field. Then, having any incarnation of Phoenix will allow me to control my opponents attack strategy. Finally, I'll fill the final slot with Gambit "Ace in the Hole" and now I have LOTS of dice filling my prep area to purchase that Cyclops!

Beast "Mutate 666"
Angel (Doesn't matter he's there to block)
Gambit "Ace in the Hole"
Storm "Goddess of the Plains"
Phoenix (Doesn't matter she's there for her global)
Cyclops "If Looks Could Kill"

All of good powers and while they don't necessarily work together as good combinations, they work together to get Cyclops on the field while keeping your opponent at bay. While Angel and Beast aren't officially affiliated with the X-Men in the game, we all know better.

Theme: Good
Quality: Good

The 8 character team

These matches can drag on as both players build up their defenses and hurry to execute their strategy. Even quick hits in the beginning don't do much to hurry the pace of the game when you have 20 life points to start. I'd just assume absorb some of the hits to get a character out of the prep area/reserve pool rotation and into the used pile for a few turns. So having a heavy hitter like Cyclops is a necessity.

Taking the same team, as seen above, and add two characters. Given we've got the X-Men theme, the final two additions aren't hard to figure out. If, instead of any random Angel, I use "Soaring", now I've acquired the need for Rogue "Anna Marie" which allows me to capture action die when she's fielded. Finally toss in any version of Professor X that makes me happiest. He'll make life difficult for any opponent and he's a blocking giant. With defense stats at 5, 7 and 9, he's going to sit back in his wheelchair and stop anything that comes at me.

Beast "Mutate 666"
Angel (Doesn't matter he's there to block)
Gambit "Ace in the Hole"
Storm "Goddess of the Plains"
Rogue "Anna Marie"
Professor X (Doesn't matter, he's a pain in your opponents arse no matter what)
Phoenix (Doesn't matter she's there for her global)
Cyclops "If Looks Could Kill"

So now I have a thematic team, that makes sense, with Cyclops as my leader. Will I crush opposing tournament teams with this? Hard to say, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding my first opponent that has an hour on their hands to challenge me.

Theme: Good
Quality: Excellent

The only Cyclops I didn't touch on here is "Scott Summers". And while I love having him (essentially an unblockable character), I better make sure he finishes my opponent off. He'll end up in the used pile and there's no telling when I'll get him back.


The only way Cyclops doesn't work thematically AND competitively is in a 4 character team. The only one I'd ever see hit the field, isn't very good as right now there isn't a lot that encourages people to block with with extras. I could toss in "Thrown Car" as a basic action to deter my opponent from chump blocking "Slim" but now the theme gets tossed aside as the only X-Man throwing a car would be Colossus.

Thankfully my favorite character happens to be an X-Man so pulling together a squad isn't nearly as hard as it seems. I take pity on fans of Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange or any member of the Fantastic Four since Sue Storm seems nowhere to be be found.

Yeah, I went there.

When Wolverine Dies, How Will They Live?

Still one of my favorite all-time
Wolverine's death comes highly anticipated for many reasons. And everyone seems to have their own reason why they're looking forward it (I have never been shy about sharing my dislike for him). As a matter of fact, when I was young and naive, to the misleading nature of comic book covers, I thought he was going to die a long time ago, at the hands of Deadpool, in his own comic book.

But alas, I was mistaken. However, I did sleeve that comic book and hang it on my bedroom wall for the longest time. Boy I could stare at that cover for hours...

*several hours later*

That being said, he's become an integral part of the mutant world and I'm curious to see how his death will affect certain characters on a personal and professional level.

Logan was never very bright
was he?
Scott Summers aka "Cyclops" - Leader of the mutant revolution, Scott and Logan have never seen eye-to-eye, but there's always been a certain level of respect between the two. They know the value that each one of them brings to the table in a fight. With both Professor Xavier and Jean Grey dead, Scott and Logan have been in a power struggle to determine the fate of mutantkind. The mutants were divided between choosing these two adversaries as their new leaders, in the story dubbed "Schism".

Upon Logan's death how will Scott deal with the loss? I have a few questions I'm hoping to see answered:

1) Will he open up about how he truly felt about his Love/Hate bromance with the Wolverine?
2) Will he see an opportunity to swoop in and influence the mutants at Logan's school to join his revolution?
3) Does he bother showing up for the funeral?

Logan should change
his codename to 'Creeper'
Jubilation Lee aka "Jubilee" - One of the many young girls that Logan
took in under his wing and became a 'father figure' to. Creepy right? How will she react to his death? Recently he bought her a house in her old neighborhood, just in case she changed her mind about moving there someday.

Don't we all do that for the young girls in our lives? *cough* sugar daddy *cough*

Having become a vampire, she's needed to drink blood to sustain herself. Logan volunteered his own blood and has been giving her a steady supply. His mutant healing factor has enabled him to replenish fast enough to keep it flowing faster than a chocolate river owned by Willy Wonka himself. Using his blood has allowed Jubilee to assume its 'healing' properties. Unfortunately, he no longer has a healing factor.

So, I'm curious to how his death will affect our mutant vampiress:

1) Will she lose her healing factor?
2) Whose blood will she drink with Logan gone?
3) Will she plummet into depression having lost someone she was so close to?

Storm is into Black Panther's
and Wolverine's. Is Beast Next?
Ororo Munroe aka "Storm" - My least favorite of the X-Men, yet it's hard to ignore the impact Wolverine's death will have on her. Back in the 90's she led the 'Gold Team' opposite Cyclops' 'Blue Team' of X-Men (of which Wolverine was a member of with Jubilee). Over the years she's been given many leadership roles, but when the mutants split into two schools, she wasn't at the forefront of it all. Even now, she's being pushed to take the reigns as a leader but she's not willing to step forward and own it. Always second guessing herself, she's never fully realized her potential.

And we can't forget about the frequent attraction she has to Logan.

What does the future hold for Ororo upon the death of the hairy headmaster:

1) Will she step forward as the new headmistress of the Jean Grey School?
2) Will she continue to second guess her abilities and find some way to blame herself for Logan's death?
3) How will she fulfill her lustful desires without Logan's loins?

There are plenty of other characters throughout the Marvel Universe that will be affected by Logan's death. His barber will be grateful I'm sure; it probably takes a whole day to clean up after giving him a trim. I'm curious to see how his death rocks the future of mutantkind, or if nobody notices and they just move on without him.

Will The Avengers be saddened by the loss of a part-time employee?
Will Colossus seek out a new mutant to throw at Sentinels?
What historically crappy uniform will they bury him in?

All these questions remain as we inch ever so closer to the death of Wolverine.

Guardians of the Galaxy Will Have You Hooked on a Feeling

Typically I know so much about the characters in comic book movies, that spoilers don't mean much to me. I'm curious to know every little detail before the movie is released, so I can see where they're going with it. I check out leaked photos and read accounts of what people see 'on set'. I scrounge for every last bit of information I can get my eyes in front of.

I did my best, this time around, to avoid spoilers (and even most trailers) for this one, although I did watch a few.

I went into the movie with only a small bit of knowledge regarding the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy in comic books, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I wondered if this movie was going to be taken seriously by movie goers. Sci-fi flicks typically force you to suspend reality as alien races are more commonplace than the human one. But when we get into modified talking raccoon's and walking trees with limited speech, things tend to get a bit out of hand.

Thankfully, director James Gunn understood that nobody would take this movie seriously, so why should he?

While tugging at a few heartstrings along the way, Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie that seems to enjoy making fun of itself. The action is driven with witty dialogue that's so clever, there are times you miss the punchline because your laughing at the setup. There are some jokes that may even go over your head, unless of course you have reflexes like Drax the Destroyer.

Which brings me to the cast:
From Left to Right: Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill
aka 'Star Lord'), Riley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Dave Bautista
(Drax the Destroyer), Vin Diesel (Groot)

 - Chris Pratt got in crazy good shape for this movie and he owned the role of Star Lord with his delivery of quick-witted dialogue. His first appearance in the movie as adult Peter Quill, was quite possibly my second favorite scene in the entire movie. It was goofy and fun, with the backdrop of an alien world, and his performance really set the tone for the entire film.

 - Bradley Cooper gave Rocket Raccoon so much personality, just from providing the voice, that it'll be hard to imagine it sounding like anything else when I read the comic book by Skottie Young.

 - Zoe Saldana, while playing it straight most of the film had a few moments of levity and she did a good job balancing the two.

 - Dave Bautista was a pleasant surprise. We all know there's some acting required for professional wrestling, but Bautista was very good at playing the role of a violent, yet verbally naive, alien. Only understanding the literal sense of things allowed his character to be funny, without realizing it. And he played it off perfectly, being serious the entire time.

 - Vin Diesel as Groot had three words of dialogue the entire movie and he did them perfectly. I'm not a fan of his and this was his best performance in a movie since 'The Iron Giant'. I was impressed with how he got so much emotion from just a few words. Maybe his real talent lies in voice work.

The special effects were really well done and the alien races and costumes were more like Star Trek, than Star Wars, in that every intelligent life-form was bi-pedal. The worlds and technology weren't over the top, but it was advanced enough to fit right in. The universe they established was expansive, but the focus was more on the characters and how they fit into it all, rather than the spacey-sci-fi stuff.

The way the characters came together was done in classic comic book style. First, fighting with each other and then realizing they can help each other out; initially as business partners and eventually as friends. The moment they come together, for unselfish reasons, is my favorite scene in the entire movie. Part of this scene was released in an extended trailer for the film but it was still my favorite. It was like a scene out of Seinfeld, only instead of an apartment, they were in the hull of a spacecraft.

Played by Josh Brolin, Thanos is around, but not much
of an immediate threat.
There are a lot of bad guys to go around and there are a lot of characters who aren't '100% a dick'. The villains are real and, despite the light-hearted nature of the film, they pose as serious threats for the heroes. I don't know that they are very memorable villains though, other than the mad titan himself, Thanos, but his role is so small, he doesn't feel very formidable. Ronan 'The Accused' and his lackey, Nebula, each have their own side-story and motivation. Even if those motives are a little weak. The goal of Thanos and Ronan is simple: obtain an item that allows them to kill all the people. Nebula has 'daddy issues' and will do anything for Thanos to take her seriously. There is a tremendous loss of life in the film, as the planet Xandar is assaulted. And even though they mention the city has been evacuated, there are still quite a few people hanging around at the end.

Unfortunately, just like in 'The Avengers', the jokes and fun prevent you from being emotionally attached to any innocent bystander that may have died. You are so caught up in the action and humor, it seems hard to shed a tear for anyone who died in combat. Sometimes, throughout the course of the movie, the serious stuff feels like it's interrupting the flow because of it's comedic nature. There's a scene where Drax refers to Gamora as a 'green whore' and nobody seems to care because it sets up the punchline.

Are we desensitizing audiences by turning everything into a gag, just for a cheap laugh?

This is the advantage a movie like this has over what Warner Bros. is doing. People don't care about the loss of life, because they're having too much fun. Given what the film is, though, it's hard to knock on it when we knew going in, it was an action comedy. Warner Bros. wants to make that emotional connection which is why they get so much flak for their death toll and 'destruction porn'.

Can you imagine if Zod called Lois Lane a whore in Man of Steel? People would burn down the internet and Zack Snyder would have an angry mob at his doorstep.

Music played a big role in this movie, from well known classics such as "Hooked on a Feeling" to the lesser known "Cherry Bomb". It helped set the tone for scenes, provide additional humor and was an emotional beat to Chris Pratt's character, as his only connection to Terra (Earth). You'll be quite literally singing the praises of this soundtrack and the way it was integrated into the movie. It's a big part of what makes this movie fun and enjoyable. And even at the movie's darkest moments the music is a foreshadow-y way of letting you know 'things'll get brighter'. No matter how alien the movie feels at times, the music grounds you back to reality and gives it a familiar vibe.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy will have you 'hooked on a feeling' and is easily one of the best films of the summer, because it's not meant to be taken seriously. And of course, stay until the credits are done rolling. While you won't get a teaser for the next Marvel movie, you will get 'a new breed of hero'.

Wonder Girl is Not Your Average Teen; Why Draw Her Like One?

I'm seeing a lot of complaints regarding artist Kenneth Rocafort's depiction of Wonder Girl in Teen Titans #1. How many teenage girls are these complainers exposed to on a daily basis I wonder?

I work a second job at one of the largest malls in the country and I see teenage girls walk by the store every day. Many will stop in to try out the products we sell. I would say 75-80% of them are dressed inappropriately for my tastes. It actually makes me uncomfortable when I have to interact with them because the lack of clothing is distracting. As a father of a 9 year old girl, its offensive that they're allowed to leave the house looking like that. 14-16 year old girls dressing as though they're allergic to fabric is deplorable and all bets are off once they're 17-19.

It's like they're trying too hard to be looked at. I understand the desire for fashion but come on parents, get involved! They're still children!

Rocafort's depiction of Wonder Girl having breasts hanging out of her top, isn't far from what I see on a daily basis. So I have to wonder, should he draw teenage girls the way society wants them to dress? Or the way they actually dress? Wonder Girl wears an outfit that is fairly standard issue in comic books, as a matter of fact I could argue she's more covered up than many women in comics.

Wonder Girl having 'porn star boobs', as it's referred to on many message boards, shouldn't be a problem either. The majority of young girls do not look like this, no, but Wonder Girl isn't a representation of the majority of young girls. She's Cassie Sandsmark. Wonder Girl. Exceptional, fictional character of the DC Universe.

She's not an average teen, so why should she be held to the standards of average teenage girls?

We aren't aware of where Wonder Girl falls in the 'teen' category. Is she 14? 16? 19? There's a tremendous difference in a girl's body type in such a short 5 year span and without knowing it's hard to validate an argument. That being said, there are teenage girls who have larger than normal breasts. They do exist and reduction surgery is a very real thing for many of them. People want all body types represented in comic long as those body types aren't offensive.

One last thought...

There's an argument out there to support and attack everything in comic books. People are entitled to their opinion. But to criticize an industry professional whose designs made it past editorial isn't fair. Direct your complaints to the editor of the book. Ask why they feel this choice is okay.

It's time to hold the editor's accountable.

There's precedent (a justifiably rare one) to the way Wonder Girl looks and while people may not like it, it's real. Social media has allowed the heat to be taken off the people responsible for approving these decisions. No longer are people compelled to write letters to editor's holding them accountable. They just shout loudly in a crowded room, and then wonder why the problem continues.

Write your complaint in an email and send it to the publisher. Leaving vitriolic comments, shouting on twitter and trolling message boards is a waste of your time and energy. Not buying the book is the first step towards change, putting your well thought out concerns in front of decision makers is the second.

Batgirl's New Direction Gives Supergirl New Hope

Batgirl's new costume #selfie
Image Courtesy of MTV News
In case you've been hiding under a rock, it was announced by MTV News, that in October, Batgirl will be getting a re-design and new creative team. This is also perfect timing as it coincides with the upcoming #Selfie variants, so she can show off her new digs (do people still say that?). With hopes of making her more 'fun' and leaving the 'dark stuff' to the rest of the Bat-family, the book will target younger female readers.

I'm here to offer the Supergirl angle.

Given that I don't read any of the 'Bat-titles', save for anything with Tim Drake in it, I'm more of a 'Super-family' guy. If the move by DC is successful, it will give me hope that Supergirl will eventually break out of her angry streak and become likable once again.

Since her debut in the New 52, she has done nothing but punch things, be angry and punch more things. Lately, she has donned a Red Lantern ring that allows her rage to fuel a more powerful engine. She did, however, do a lot of smiling recently when trying to help out her cousin in a recent chapter of the Superman: Doomed story.

Could embracing the rage eventually bring back the Kara we all know and love?

Anyone who knew the pre-Flashpoint Kara, knows that she was kind, slightly naive and loving. Kal-El, who we know as Superman, was charged to her care. Unfortunately he was raised into an adult while she remained in stasis until Batman discovered her pod. Not fully understanding the new world she lived in, she spent time learning with Ma Kent and her adult cousin.

The New 52 has killed off Ma Kent already and had Kara being attacked by someone new at every turn.

So when her time with the Red Lantern's is through, it makes for a perfect opportunity to have Supergirl experience change. If there's any character who could use a refreshing start, it's Supergirl. Hopefully if the new creative direction on Batgirl is a hit, those of us with daughter's who are fans of Superman can share a fun-loving 'Super-book' with them.

Her costume is in desperate need of a re-design as well...
Like the cape. Hate the red crotch and
the over-the-knee boot-straps.

Rick (Remender) Shouldn't get Rolled

In the latest issue of Captain America (#22), we're given a scene that depicts Falcon getting out of bed, with Jet (a girl whom Cap bonded with and saved during his time in Dimension Z), feeling as though he was drugged.

It set off a twitter hashtag: #FireRickRemender

Given that I have a 12 year old son who reads this comic book, as a father and someone who never jumps to conclusions, I should weigh in on this issue.

We're led to believe something happened based on the information given. It's called a misdirection and happens all the time in works of fiction. Heck, even in non-fiction a story can be told while withholding information to keep an audience guessing. Having things happen that are open to interpretation, even if evidence leans one way more than another, is good story-telling.

The beauty of a comic book is how panels are interpreted based on what's shown. The joy of reading is heightened by the fact that we aren't always privy to each detail of the story. Things are left out only to be revealed at a later date.

Unless we actually see them having sex or they admit to it happening, we don't know what occurred off-panel. It's all assumption on the part of the reader. And just like a character's death, if it happens off-panel it can be ret-conned as easily as turning a page.

Upon waking up, each panel depicts Sam and Jet wearing undergarments. A far cry from implied acts of sex in other mediums. On television, girls suddenly become shy and hold bed sheets in front of themselves to give the viewer the impression that she's nude. Or the camera just avoids showing that part of the body because the person isn't dressed.

Even if sex DID occur between Sam and Jet, and for some reason they decided to throw on their skivvies afterwards, they're adults living in an adult world. They'll have to work through it, developing character along the way.

Now the issue of consent comes up because they were drinking. But that's all debunked if we don't know anything actually happened or not. When Jet wakes up sober, we can easily assume that if sex occurred, she was capable of providing consent without influence. But was Sam? This would turn the whole rape thing on it's head if he turned out to be the victim. How's that for a twist! Or we could just be in for a mis-direction, as mentioned above. If Jet likes him, but he doesn't reciprocate those feelings, she could just lie to him and make him believe they had sex, in hopes that it would allow him to be more open to the idea.

It's all in the writing and Remender is doing a great job providing story beats that are open to interpretation.

In comparison, Tony Stark gets drunk and has sex with young women all the time and he doesn't catch shit for it. And neither does the person writing him for that matter. We accept it as part of who he is and laugh it off. Heck some readers even cheer him on or get upset at the idea that he would commit himself to one woman.

Being an alcoholic womanizer has endeared him to fans, men and women alike, for years.

People are overly sensitive about this issue because it involves a black man, a young white girl and a bottle of alcohol. There are people on the internet that go fishing for reasons to complain. This sort of thing may be shocking to some and offensive to others. But to a more reserved, level-headed type of fan, it's just part of the story.

So let's not get carried away by what happens in a work of fiction, no matter how offensive it may be. If people think a writer such as Rick Remender should be fired for addressing adult themes, then George R.R. Martin shouldn't be allowed to write another word.