The Mix : What are people talking about today?

P/Review: High Heaven #1

I think every reviewer has a high-spirited streak inside, where they want something to fail just because there’s a great headline for it.  I remember when the Green Lantern movie was coming out, and there was a negative buzz preceding it, we came up with a list of reviewer headlines like “Oa No! Lights out for Green Lantern!” Looking back, it was pretty mean-spirited.

But thankfully, AHOY Comics’ High Heaven is so good there’s no need for a cheesy headline. If you really want one or need one, just cut and “OMG! High Heaven’s Divine!” or “TGIHH: Thank God its High Heaven” and put it at the top of this review.  This comic, the second venture from Ahoy Comics, is subversively, wicked fun. High Heaven is fresh, witty and couldn’t be more different from the first AHOY title, The Wrong Earth.

Writer Tom Peyer and artist Greg Scott introduce us to a jerk named Weathers who suddenly dies and finds himself in the afterlife. Navigating it isn’t easy, and is especially difficult for a whiner like Weathers.  The concept of Heaven is a well-traveled fictional road, but somehow Peyer creates a new take on it that leaves you eager to learn more.

Greg Scott keeps his foot on the gas with his gritty edged renderings. I liked his style in Archie’s recent Black Hood series, and it works surprisingly well here too.

And just like The Wrong Earth, AHOY has stuffed this issue with a plethora of  diverse extra material. The back-up adventure is called Hashtag: Danger and is a humorous romp in that classic Challengers of the Unknown style.  I’m not sure if the reason it works so well is because of the dinosaurs, the sly digs at social media, the unglamorizing of start-ups, or the wry commentary on reality show celebrities.   A prose story by Grant Morrison, a Shannon Wheeler gag panel, a hilarious letters page and a clever editorial leave the reader with that  “Wow! What a bargain!” feeling.

Heaven Can’t Wait! I’m impatient for issue #2. Ooops- that pun just slipped out. Sorry!

REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow the Complete Third Season

REVIEW: Legends of Tomorrow the Complete Third Season

“Insane is what we do best.”

To appreciate fully the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, you just have to lean in with the crazy. An antidote to the overly grim Arrow, the spinoff show embraces its sloppiness. The “legends” wear their inefficiency as a badge of honor and each episode of the third season amplifies this while also tightening the bonds between them.

Legends of Tomorrow the Complete Third Season is a three-disc set out now from Warner Home Video, In addition to all 18 episodes, we get the complete “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover with Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl. Taken as a whole, the season introduces a major threat and deals with it, while also pausing to focus on the various characters while also setting up the fourth season, doing a better job than its peers do.

We open with time having been broken and the Legends racing about repairing the damage they caused while their former leader Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) has ordered his reconstituted Time Bureau to leave them alone. After some solo exploits, they recognize they need one another and sally forth into new escapades.

Bit by bit, though, we get a sense of the greater evil, first through Kausa (Tracy Ifeachor), a hydrokinetic assassin until we learn that a demon named Mallus (John Noble; there’s a brilliant destruction of the fourth wall in one episode) is trying to reach Earth and dominate it. By then, they have partnered or fought against good old Damien Darkh (Neil McDonough) and his daughter Nora (Courtney Ford), who becomes the object of Ray Palmer’s (Brandon Routh) affections.

Speaking of romance, Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) has not only settled into her role as their commander with a gravitas befitting her training, she’s allowed herself to fall in love with her rival Ava (Jess Macallan). This is balanced by the bittersweet and necessary breakup between Nate (Nick Zano) and Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers).

By then, everyone and then some are back for the most satisfying season finale among the CW’s super-series.

It was also fun to see Helen of Troy (Bar Paly), Jonah Hex (Jonathan Schaech) and the real Gideon (Amy Pemberton) in return appearances. What was less enjoyable was seeing Victor Garber’s career mean the end of Firestorm (at least for now). The less said about Beebo the better.

Throughout the season, perhaps the character who got the least screen time and is woefully underdeveloped is Zari (Tala Ashe), something I hope gets fixed in the new season. With Matt Ryan’s John Constantine back in the fold (if played a bit broadly, even for this show), we can see how the dynamic may work.

The high def transfer to Blu-ray is fine for both audio and video. The disc comes with some of the same features from others discs: Inside the Crossover: Crisis on Earth-X and The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2017. Unique to this set is an interesting look at The Time Calibrators: Legends Assemble as produce Phil Klemmer walks us through his thinking for the new season. There’s also an interesting Post Production Theater where you see stand-is work with actors as placeholders before the special effects and CGI are added. It’s interesting but would have been more interesting to see the before and after aspects. Finally, there’s a well-edited Gag Reel.

REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Those who attended Solo: A Star Wars Story during its theatrical run were treated to an entertaining adventure story, leavened with the patented humor derived from the original trilogy. It was well cast, well produced, and enjoyable. All the behind the scenes contretemps in no way spoiled the final product, which is out tomorrow from Disney Home Entertainment on a variety of discs and packages.

Yes, the version that was shot under directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller would have been dramatically different, perhaps too different for the Lucasfilm executives. We have no way of knowing since no footage has been released. The casting didn’t change and incoming Ron Howard was a good choice, able to get things up and running smoothly and delivering a satisfying movie.

So, why didn’t people flock to see the movie despite positive buzz? Hard to say. Yes, coming out so quickly after the previous Star Wars film (which in itself was controversial) and just weeks after the same fans had their moods spoiled by the downbeat Avengers Infinity War no doubt contributed to poor opening weekend box office  Word of mouth should have saved the movie but didn’t.

There little doubt that Alden Ehrenreich stepped up as Han Solo, younger and not quite so jaded as the version Harrison Ford introduced us to in 1977. This film fills in each and every crevice from the past, so much so, that if the rumors are true and no sequel is being planned, then we should be satisfied. In fact, so much continuity service was present, it almost interfered with telling a solid stand-alone story.

We meet him and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) on Corellia, a world ruled by the Fagin-like Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt). They long to escape for a better world but only Han gets free, his first step down the road to bitterness and pain. While he tries to be a loyal member of the Empire so he can fly, her path brought her from one criminal orbit to another, the latter being Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), a powerful player in the criminal Crimson Dawn. Han winds up working with his own criminals, a band led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a man with a conscience, whose behavior proves influential.

Events from screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan bring everyone back to together with Han meeting the Wookiee Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). There’s the usual twists and turns, revelations and reversals, and surprises and sadness. There’s also plenty of action, one on one duels and a high-speed train robbery before we even get Han and Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon for the first time.

The performances are certainly engaging, with nice chemistry between Ehrenreich and Clarke as well as Ehrenreich and Glover (who is even better casting for his part). Michael Giacchino’s energetic score nicely complements the John Williams music we are so accustomed to.

The Blu-ray edition comes with two discs and a Digital HD code. One disc is the film, the other an hour or so of special features. The film itself looks fine, not perfect, which is surprising considering the production crew.  Everything is cold and bleak and the color is desaturated throughout (letting Lando shine) and that’s all nicely captured. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is actually superior.

The Special Features are a mixed opening with the soft Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable (21:44) as Howard moderates a so-so conversation with Ehrenreich, Glover, Suotamo, Clarke, Harrelson, Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (the voice of L3-37), and Thandie Newton. Kasdan on Kasdan (7:50) offers father chatting with son about the franchise’s impact on the elder’s life.

Remaking the Millennium Falcon (5:36) looks at recreating the vessel and its origins; Escape from Corellia (9:59) touches on the film’s place in the timeline in addition to the opening action sequence. The Train Heist (14:30) breaks down the largest set piece. Team Chewie (6:41) spotlights the formation of the friendship between Han and Chewie while Becoming a Droid: L3-37 (15:06) spotlights the new character and bringing her to life.

Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso (8:02) looks at the creation of the creatures, card game, and characters in this mid-movie moment. We also get Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run (8:28) which explore show this chase sequence was conceived and executed.

There are some interesting Deleted Scenes (15:13): Proxima’s Den, Corellian Foot Chase, Han Solo: Imperial Cadet, The Battle of Mimban: Extended, Han Versus Chewie: Extended, Snowball Fight!, Meet Dryden: Extended, and Coaxium Double-Cross.

Very little is made of the first version of the film, not that it’s ignored but everything here is dedicated the film fans received. While history would be curious to see what might have been, that will have to wait for another day.

Trese Goes Global!

There is a great urban-fantasy comic from the Philippines called Trese. I’ve written about the first three volumes here a few years ago — and there have been three more volumes since then, plus a seventh in progress.

The books are difficult to find on this side of the Pacific, though. (Difficult to find in most of the world, from what I can see — that happens when you publish out of a smaller country.) And that’s a huge shame: this is damn good stuff, as fantasy, as detective stories, as modern reworkings of folktale material, and as comics.

Well, you’re finally in luck.

Trese creators Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldismo have launched an IndieGogo campaign for a global edition of Trese — starting from the beginning for those of you who haven’t seen it before.

A digital edition of the first comic is a measly two bucks. That’s a steal.

I’ve already backed it, and kicked in an extra donation to help out. (The least I can do, since I got the first few books for free as a reviewer.) Go check it out yourself , and I hope you’ll decide to back it as well.

My dream is that Trese will someday be as big as Hellboy — it may be a crazy dream, but I’ll settle for Trese books actually widely available in North America.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #265: Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Earth’s Mightiest Hero by DeConnick, Sebela, Soy, RIos, & Andrade

First up, the consumer note that I wanted but didn’t get: this is indeed Volume 1 of the books reprinting the 2012 Captain Marvel series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. (It contains twelve issues and the second volume has five more.) That was preceded by comics called Captain Marvel (just by Marvel, with various people using that superhero moniker) in 2008, 2002, 2000, 1995, 1994, 1989, and 1968, and followed by further Marvel Captain Marvel series in 2014, 2016, and 2017 (that last one starting with issue number 125, to totally confuse everyone).

So this is nowhere near the beginning of anything. Being a superhero series from one of the Big Two, I shouldn’t have to mention that it’s nowhere near an ending, either.

But, there’s a Captain Marvel movie coming, vaguely sort-of based on this take on the character, so this is the book Marvel is hoping people will buy once they see and like that movie, and this series is also somewhat of a grand-mommy to the recent slew of “diverse” comics from Marvel. (Scare-quotes around “diverse” since a lot of it is just showcasing more women, who the numerically literate among us already know make up more than half of the human race.)

So, anyway: Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero, Vol. 1 . (I think that’s the correct order of the title elements. If not, I have another option in the post title.) These are the comics where Carol Danvers, ex-Air Force test pilot and possessor of strange powers granted her by alien beings (somewhat literally) changes her costume and name, casting off “Ms. Marvel” so it can be used by someone else and Marvel can sell more comics and make more money because she is better than that, and deserves to use the slightly misspelled name of an alien dead guy because blah blah legacy yammer yammer mantle yadda yadda please tell me you’re buying this?

The stupid speech I’m referring to above is given by Captain America on pages 8-10 of the first issue here, after they beat up a random bad guy in a museum for I’m sure what wouldn’t be a gratuitous fight scene if anyone bothered to explain it. It contains the kind of logic and rhetoric that exist only in superhero comics, and only there because the real reason Carol Danvers is going to become Captain Marvel is that 1) Marvel owns a trademark in that name, and expects that trademark to return it some cold hard cash on the regular and 2) there are several thousand fanboys consumers who will buy anything that says Captain Marvel on the cover, at least for a few issues. Danvers is just the most obvious person to do so.

So Captain Marvel exists as pure trademark-extension, for both “Carol Danvers™” and “Captain Marvel™.” Let’s stipulate that. And it doesn’t have to be all that good to fulfill that mission: Danvers punches someone new each issue, has some supporting cast with problems, bingo bango, it’ll last long enough to make us to the next crossover event where everything will change.

But DeConnick is actually interested in people and their relationships — well, let’s not go crazy here; she is to the extent anyone can be in the straitjacket of a Marvel Universe comic — and so she (and co-writer Christopher Sebela, on issues 7-8 and 10-12 for no obvious reason) has plots that mostly aren’t about punching the Villain of the Month, and which tie into Danvers’s backstory and history.

Now, again, I don’t want to oversell it: it’s mostly on the level of a decent made-for-TV movie or passable airport paperback, with the tough female test pilot still yearning to prove what she can do after she’s left that world, and her complicated relationship with the older woman who was something of a mentor to her, plus a friendship with another woman who used to be Captain Marvel and the guy who will probably be a boyfriend, eventually. (With added time travel and aliens, obviously.)

The art is also quite distinctive: Dexter Soy does six of the issues, in what I think is a full-painted look and which is brightly surreal in a good way. Emma Rios has a spiky take on more traditional comics pencil-and-ink look (colored by Jordie Bellaire) for two issues in the middle, and Filipe Andrade does the last four issues in a very angular, loose-lined (but with almost chibi faces) style that also goes all the way to color.

This may well have looked like something startlingly different, particularly to pure Marvel readers of 2012. And it is pretty different from most of what Marvel was doing, being actually concerned with women and their emotions. For me, it’s slightly more interesting than a standard Marvel comic, but only the same way sandstone is more interesting than a broken piece of concrete — one is a bit more real than the other.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #264: Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF by Montclare, Reeder, and Bustos

It is pretty hard to have a team-up book where one of the two team members has no way to actually know the other one’s name. (Not to mention everyone else in the world, who know that name by some kind of comic-book-world telepathy, I think.)

And, on an entirely different level, it is hard for me to take seriously a book that seems to be the high-speed collision of “hey, don’t we need to do something with Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur every so often to keep the trademark active?” and “hey, girls in STEM are hot right now, so we should do a comic about a nerdy girl.”

Don’t get me wrong, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF  tells a pleasant story, tells it well, and has entirely positive messages to impart to what I think it hopes is a multicultural audience of mostly young, mostly female readers. But there seems to be a lot of product management going on in the background.

Anyway: Moon Girl! Actually the preteen New Yorker Lunella Lafayette, who is way too smart for her school already at the age of nine! [1] Picked on by her classmates for being a know-it-all with a huge air of superiority who doesn’t deign to even talk to them most of the time! Has the Inhuman gene, because this is a 2016 Marvel comic, and they were desperately trying to make that A Thing! [2] Makes weird science-y things out of random stuff, because that’s totally something that anyone actually does in any reasonable world!

Devil Dinosaur! Named that by an outcast monkey-boy in some vague past era where bright-red dinosaurs mingle with monkey-boys! [3] Has that name in whatever language monkey-boy speaks, which is definitely not English! Smarter than you’d expect a vaguely T. Rex-y thing to be, and better able to sneak away and hide in (a) a modern city that (b) he’s never been in before and (c) has nothing, as far as we can see, that he eats… than you’d expect! Also substantially more committed to fighting crime and not, y’know, eating things than you’d expect!

Luckily for her, because they meet wacky in the middle of issue 1, when the Maguffin the Nightstone (maybe) Kree Omni-Wave Projector (this time for sure!) burbles a hole in the space-time continuum and plops DD face to face with MG.

(Oh, and also lets loose a group of bad monkey-boys — and I think one monkey-girl, though I don’t want to judge anyone’s monkey-gender presentation. Which leads us to…)

The Killer Folk! Tougher than Moon Boy! (Whom they, um, kill (?) before running through the hole in the space-time continuum.) Tougher than the Yancy Street Gang! Basically evil hipsters by the end of the book! They want the Maguffin (oops) and don’t care who gets in their way! When they get it, they will…be happy they have it and maybe do some more minor street crime, I guess. But they’re our villains!

So MG somehow knows the big red dinosaur that grabs her in its teeth is friendly and named DD, and imprints on it like a baby duck. DD doesn’t talk and mostly just smashes stuff, but he seems cool with being her sidekick (or vice-versa). And the monkey-boy did tell DD to go stop the Killer Folk from doing their Killer-Folk thing, and I guess that’s what DD is doing, in his giant-red-dinosaur way.

The maguffin bounces back and forth between Killer Folk and Our Heroes, as the rest of the city gets more and more peeved at the giant red dinosaur breaking all kinds of things all over the place. Luckily, we readers are on the side of the giant red dinosaur, so we are really pissed when an actual superhero (well, the Amadeus Cho Hulk, so sort-of an actual superhero) shows up to be all superior, tell MG to go back to school, and arrests DD for being big and red and dinosaurian.

Does MG get her big red implement of mass destruction back? Do the two of them retrieve the Maguffin once and for all, and defeat the Killer Folk? Is there a Shocking Change that takes place on the very last page, to get us to buy Volume 2?

Reader, you know the answer already. [4]

[1] I was going to check to see what NYC magnet schools she would be eligible for, but that would just be mean.

[2] As opposed to The Thing, which they already had. And who isn’t an Inhuman. At least the last time I checked.

[3] Wait. Isn’t this supposed to be a comic for people who care about science?

[4] I forgot to mention who made this book, didn’t I? Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder wrote it, and Natacha Bustos drew it. Tamra Bonvillain did the colors, which I thought were particularly strong.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

#FairUseFriday: “Backyard Blockbusters” now on Amazon Prime

Batman versus the Predator? It happened. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” remade by kids? It happened. For years, people have been making home movies, sometimes even using properties that they may not own, but love… and creating new fans of their own, as well as more than their share of headaches for filmmakers and studios alike.

From John Hudgens, the award-winning director of “American Scary”, “Backyard Blockbusters” covers the history and influence of the fanfilm genre (going back to the 1920s!) as well as the copyright and fair use problems these films create. And now, if you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can view Backyard Blockusters for free as of today!

For more information, go to


Book-A-Day 2018 #263: Nexus Archives (Vols. 1-9) by Mike Baron and Steve Rude

Comics has not been a terribly fertile ground for good science fiction. Oh, there’s been a lot of space opera, since comics are excellent at depicting coruscating beams of lambent force striking overwhelmed ray-screens and control panels exploding with showers of colorful sparks. But actual stories about people and their societies, in which the details of the future world are both carefully designed and important? That’s not something comics gets into all that often.

Nexus is one of the towering exceptions. It was one of the first wave of “ground-level” comics in the late ’70s and early ’80s, part of the flood that eventually became “independent comics.” And, like a lot of things in that wave, it clearly was derived from popular ideas in mainstream comics, taking a different look at the costumed superpowered hero as Elfquest and Cerebus did the same with the fantasy adventure.

Nexus was a first — the first comics work published by writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude, the first comic published by Capital Comics, the brand-new publishing arm of a growing regional comics distributor, maybe the first serious long-form SF in comics form. It came out first in black and white, for three large issues in 1981 and 1982, and then switched to color for a second volume in 1983 as the story continued without interruption. With the seventh color issue, in the spring of ’85, publication switched to the more established and stable First Comics (based in Chicago, and a reasonably close indy-comics neighbor to the Madison, Wisconsin base of Capital, Baron, and Rude).

First would publish Nexus, and a few spin-off series, through issue 80 in 1991. First then went under, and Nexus landed at Dark Horse for a series of one-shots and mini-series that were intended as a continuation of the main story from the First series. (And they were quietly co-numbered as issues 81, etc. to indicate that.) That petered out in 1997, but there have been some Nexus stories, here and there, since then.

Dark Horse has reprinted Nexus in a serious way twice: first with the Archive volumes, classy hardcovers in the Marvel/DC mode. Twelve volumes of those came out from 2005 to 2011, collecting the whole Capital/First run but ending there. And then they started again with the cheaper, fatter paperback Omnibus series, which collected the entire ’80s-’90s Nexus into eight volumes.

I personally started reading Nexus in the fall of 1986, when I went off to college, discovered the (then obligatory) good comics shop near college (Iron Vic’s, sadly missed) and got a bunch of interesting-looking indy comics. And I lost track of it at the end of the Dark Horse years, though I saw the Archives and Omnibus books coming out and vaguely planned to collect them to re-read. Eventually, I got the first nine Archives books, which collected up to First issue 57, and spent a lot of pleasant time in my late-August vacation reading them.

So what I can talk about today is about the first half of Nexus: most of the main continuous phase, and the bulk of the Baron-Rude days. Rude didn’t want to spend his entire life doing this one comic, and so this stretch has a number of issues with art by other people, and the end of the First run would be almost entirely drawn by other hands.

(Links to the individual books: one , two , three , four , five , six , seven , eight , nine . Or, if you’d rather try the Omnibus route, here’s the first one. )

In a vaguely Legion of Super-Heroes way, Nexus is locked onto a pan-galactic multi-species future five hundred years ahead — the late twenty-fifth century. In most of the issues here, it’s not entirely clear what the year is or how much time is passing, but it’s clear time is passing, more quickly than usual for a monthly periodical comic. One year of Nexus comics is roughly equal to one year of time in Nexus‘s universe — people will grow and change, and the world will not stay the same at any point.

That seems like a small point, but it’s crucial: in 1981, comics really didn’t do that. Even by 1991, when the First Nexus series ended, continuity didn’t mean that anyone got older, just that old stories (or some of them, at least) counted. But Nexus was a place where time was real, death was real, people were individual and quirky and never blandly heroic or evil, and everything would get more complicated and difficult over time, just like the real world.

Nexus is a man: Horatio Hellpop. The rest of the universe does not know that name — they just know that he appears, as Nexus, to assassinate various people. (All humans, all mass murderers…but that may not be clear to everyone.) He harnesses vast energy powers, through fusion sources that are the subject of frenzied theorizing.

His base is an obscure, out-of-the-way moon called Ylum. (As in, and pronounced to match, asylum.) That world is filling up with refugees fleeing a thousand tyrannical regimes, people of all races and nationalities, with no real infrastructure and, as yet, no government other than the vague presence of Nexus himself.

As Nexus opens, Sundra Peale, a reporter from the Web — a large, mostly democratic and free polity centered on Earth and extending to its colonies across the solar system and elsewhere — has arrived on Ylum, to learn Nexus’s secrets and broadcast them to her audience. She has another, secret reason for chasing his secrets as well, and we’ll learn that quickly.

Many characters in Nexus have secret motivations, or just ones that they don’t clearly explain. Again, this was not common in comics in 1981 — and still isn’t as common as I would hope, even today — but it’s the basis of any kind of real literature. People are complex, and never do things just for simple, obvious reasons. Nexus is full of complex, often infuriating people, from Nexus and Sundra on down: they all do things that are what they need to do at that moment, even if they’re not what the audience wants, or what would be the obvious next step in a piece of genre fiction.

In between assassinations and other intrigues, Sundra learns Nexus’s truth, and becomes his lover. His father, Theodore, was the military governor of Vradic, one of the planets ruled by the Sov, a successor state to the Soviet Union. (We all though it would last forever, and expand into space, in 1981.) Theodore fled a coup with his wife and infant son, destroying all human life on Vradic as he went, following his orders as he saw them. They landed on Ylum, and found it empty. But the world had a huge network of livable spaces underground, with attractive plazas and rooms nearer the surface and endless caverns and utility networks further down, plus fascinating artifacts that hinted at an ancient alien presence there. They moved in; Horatio grew up.

He had two alien playmates, Alpha and Beta, who his parents never saw. His mother disappeared when he was young, only to be found, much later, dead in one of those endless lower levels. He had headaches that got worse and worse as he got older. Eventually, he started to dream of his father’s crimes. And he knew that the headaches would keep getting worse, that they would kill him, if he didn’t kill his father first. Nexus’s first assassination, his first time using that fusion power, was to kill Theodore, the only other living human on the planet.

That ended the dreams about Theodore. But there are many other mass murderers, and Nexus started to dream of them, one by one or in groups. And the situation was the same: use the fusion power to kill the murderers he dreams of, or die himself from the escalating pain those dreams cause.

(The first time we see Nexus perform an assassination, he says he kills out of self-defense. And this is absolutely true.)

That’s only the beginning, obviously. Many factions across the inhabited galaxy want to kill or co-opt Nexus, use him to accomplish their aims or exploit the vulnerable refugees of Ylum. We quickly learn that the fusion power Nexus exploits is not unknown, if stronger than usual: unscrupulous folks have discovered that decapitating sentients and putting the heads in life-support systems generates massive telekinetic powers, which can be harnessed to, among other things, pull fusion power from stars to create energy blasts like Nexus’s.

Nexus is on the side of the oppressed by instinct, but he’s not naturally a killer. One of the most important threads of Nexus is that Horatio only kills when he absolutely has to: he kills the people he’s forced to. His life, and that of Ylum, would be much simpler if he were less philosophical, more inclined to just destroy anything in his path.

Before long, we will learn the source of Nexus’s power. And Baron and Rude will continue to explore all of the implications of these ideas — of the kinds of scams and tricks that will arise if turning people into heads is a profitable business; of the government intrigues that will ripple out from spying on Nexus, and from ongoing issues with being able to deliver enough energy to a growing, technological population; of the politics of Ylum, a world filled with refugees from a thousand different worlds with no common tradition; and with what kind of a power a nation of Heads would be, and what they would want to do once free.

And, eventually, that Nexus is a title and a source of power. Horatio Hellpop is not the only person who can have that title and source of power, and he won’t be the only one. Even if he’s the best possible person for it, if he has a chance to give it up, he will — the pain, both physical and moral, is overwhelming.

I haven’t even talked about some of the other great characters: Dave, Nexus’s closest friend and advisor, a Thune with great pain in his past and a quietly stoic outlook on life; Dave’s long-separated son Judah the Hammer, a hero inspired by Nexus and using power similar to his, provided by vengeance-seeking Heads; Tyrone, the grumpy refugee first President of Ylum, sneakier than he seems and not as dismissive of politics as he appears; the seeming parody of a grasping merchant Keith Vooper, who is quirkier than that; the budding musical genius Mezz; Ursula Imada, a Web agent sent to seduce and control Nexus whose naked ambitions will drive many plots for many years; the three Loomis sister, who swear to destroy Nexus for assassinating their General father; the two Gucci assassins Kreed and Sinclair, both from the odd Quatro race; and many more.

Nexus is a big, smart, interesting SF series, full of fascinatingly real characters who bounce off each other in increasingly baroque ways and set in a complex universe with no easy answers and a lot of hard questions. Steve Rude, though he starts off a little shaky, very quickly draws like a dream, in a mode influenced by Toth and Kirby. The work Baron and Rude do together on this series is their very best work, and they’re both among the very best in comics.

If you haven’t taken a look at Nexus, and you have any interest in comics SF at all, you really need to try it.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Michael Davis: Confessions of An Uppity Negro, Chapter 1

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on 

Except from ‘From Now On’ written by Justin Paul & Benj Pasek

I am lucky
I am a con man
I am a fraud
I am uppity 


“You’re very lucky to get even that.” The late Neal Pozner said that to me while handing me a ‘fill in’ job. It was a Captain Atom 10-page story an assignment given to me as part of my pay or play agreement with DC Comics while with Milestone Media.

Part of the agreement with DC was in exchange for devoting all our time to Milestone our standard of living would not suffer. If my Milestone income wasn’t sufficient, I could petition DC for freelance creative which they could provide or not. Either way, we got paid.

The word came back from Neal that no editor liked it and as such, they would not hire me. That’s when I knew the fix was in and I would never do work for DC again.

FUN FACT: I laid out thumbnail sketches but other than that I didn’t touch that job. John Paul Leon, Bernard Chang, and Charles Drost did the actual artwork.

“Frankly Michael, the word is that you’re not a very good artist.”

Nooooooo, John Paul Leon, Bernard Chang, and Charles Drost were not very good artists, and we KNOW that is bullshit. You may not be familiar with Charles’ work (Chuck to his pals) he’s a fine artist animation producer and director, but he’s as talented as they come, and everyone knows Bernard and John Paul are two of the biggest talents working in comics today. All three were part of my Bad Boy Studios.

So, yep the fix was in.

When Neal told me, no one wanted me because I sucked as an artist I wondered why on earth did they offer me two deluxe format projects and pay me well over a hundred grand before my name went the Moses route and was stricken.

DC: Let the name of Davis be stricken from every book and tablet, stricken from all comics cartoons stricken from every monument of the industry. Let the name of Davis be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of men for all time.

This surprised me because Neal and I were close until one day we just were not.  I met Neal at a Gays in Comics mixer at a convention. He came over shook my hand and said, “It’s not many straight guys in comics who would attend one of these.”  NO IDEA how he knew I was straight, but we ended up talking and becoming friends. After that, we would hang out together whenever we ended up at the same event.

When Neal died, I contributed his coldness to more substantial matters that affected how he treated trivial shit. He was a good guy I liked him nevertheless he was part of the DC Machine that was fucking up my shit.


“Michael, I see you’ve conned yourself into yet another rather nice deal.”

Bob Wayne said that to me at Comic-Con International in 1994. I’d just been named President and CEO Motown Animation and Filmworks. I went over to the DC booth to say hello to Bob. He was loud enough so all those within earshot could (and what I thought his purpose) would hear.

This REALLY surprised and hurt me because Bob and I were buddies until one day like with Neal we weren’t.

I gave Neal a pass-why? I liked him and ‘pay or play’ means assignment or not DC had to pay me.

They didn’t. But that’s another story, and here we were talking about Bob Wayne.

Yeah, Neal got a pass. Bob, on the other hand, did not because I was livid. When I returned from Comic-Con, I wrote a very detailed letter to Bob’s boss explaining how unprofessional Bob was and how I was offended.

Realizing Bob may have destroyed any opportunity to work with another influential entertainment company Bob’s boss fired him. That act so impressed me I licensed the entire Gerry Anderson catalog to DC for a dollar. Polygram was a sister company, and I was given Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet among other properties to develop. Yeah. Bob was out of a job, and I entered into a publishing deal with DC that has produced the most successful Black character in DC’s history.

HA! That will teach anyone to fuck with me.

Then I woke up.

The publisher of DC didn’t even respond. He and Bob most likely laughed their asses off.  OH, wait a sec, you’ll don’t know Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet was among the universes I had dominion over?


At the very same convention that Bob Wayne thought he had dominion over me, I ran into Howard Chaykin. Howard was a friend who I idolized when younger.  Not just because of his fantastic work his badass take no prisoner attitude had a significant influence on me

His reaction when I told him the news of becoming President and CEO of Motown film and TV. Hell, he was a friend— what do you think he said to me?

“What? But you’re a fraud!”

Well, I thought he was a friend.


“You get in people’s faces.”

“You’re loud.”

“Who do you think you are?”

SOOOOOO many people pros and fans alike have said the above to me and MUCH MUCH more.

Howard Chaykin invented getting into people’s faces. No one is louder than Todd McFarlane.

Who do they think they are?

I’m willing to bet those guys don’t get questions on their pedigree.

There are two distinct differences between Howard, Todd and me.

  1. They are way more well-known than me.
  2. Really? Do I have to say it? OK, I will, my dick is bigger, and I can dance. (watch some idiot not get the joke)

Now there are those will say they are more accomplished than me.


Maybe not.

Depends on how you measure accomplishment.

Now would be a good time to tout my resume. Nah. Not gonna do it. I’ll just ask is there a Howard Chaykin auditorium somewhere or do they only give those to frauds?

Just askin’.

Here’s my question-what gives anyone the right to call me a fraud when they have no fucking idea what I’ve done? Or call me lucky when made aware something I’ve done?

Or say:

“You get in people’s faces.”

“You’re loud.”

“Who do you think you are?”

All that my friends are code for uppity, short for Uppity Nigger. Fraud? That’s when people have no respect for you. I can’t explain why Howard said that to me and that shit HURT. What did I say?

Not a damn thing.

I’m nobody’s bitch I’m not afraid of Howard but he may have forgotten the snowed in night at UP START STUDIOS when he spent a great of time giving me advice and showing real concern.

It was just he and I from around 9pm until well after midnight. This stands out as one of the best memories of my best memories because all the time he was talking to me he was inking AMERICAN FLAGG.


He may have forgotten, I haven’t.

So, no I didn’t say a word.

There’s a company that took their objection to my swagger personally. I say company because when the little bitch who started it all left the company, I thought the stupidly went with him. I just found out it didn’t.

This asshole produced a document that is so damning he thought when I signed it he had successfully killed my career. Why would I sign such a document?

Because MY lawyers who come from one of the most powerful law firms on the planet say it’s unenforceable and those who produced it were fools to do so. It shows an absolute bias against me.

Right now, the punk ass bitch who put this shit together is thinking ‘statue of limitations’ That would be a concern if I signed outside of those limitations.

What, me worried?

It’s not like I had called the character Tyrone Cash Super Nigger. Cash was a brilliant black scientist who gains the powers of the Hulk, KEEPS HIS INTELLECT, then decides to give up his job as a brilliant scientist TO BECOME A DRUG DEALER.

He solved a problem that Dr. Doom, Reed Richards, Hank Pym and every other big brain in the Marvel Universe couldn’t. That makes him the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. That means the most intelligent BLACK person in the Marvel Universe thinks being a fucking DRUG DEALER is a worthy endeavor.

This idea was created by superstar creator Mark Millar.

It’s not like I called Mr. Millar’s creation ‘Super Nigger.’ THAT would be a reason to worry.

Shit. I did call Tyrone Cash, Super Nigger. But Mark, if you’re reading this, don’t get mad. It’s not like I called you a fraud or asked who you think you are.

BTW-does one stupid character negate your other work?

No. You’re still a brilliant writer, but TC is as FUCKED UP as FUCKED UP can be.


Am I worried about outing the nincompoops who think they have the right to treat me like my name was Toby?


I’m looking forward to their explanation. Then they can also explain why they produced that document AFTER two employees SWORE I’d called their company racist. Funny thing about that those representatives of this massive entertainment corporation. They were not mistaken, they were not wrong they were not incorrect.

They were LIARS.

It was a setup. Yes, I’ve got proof and so does Ropes and Gray.

Explain THAT.

Why am I dealing with this at all when I let it go for so long?  Truth is this isn’t the first time I’ve written about these things— this time it’s different because I made a promise to my cousin Regina a few months ago.

After reading my articles for the last 25 years, she noticed I’m no longer ‘getting in people’s faces when they fuck with you.” She also noticed I’m not happy nor am I, “Being the badass take no shit from no one we all love and shake our head at.”

She said it was my duty to show young kids of color if wronged bring attention to that wrong. People always want Black men to show their papers we both agreed that was still a problem, if not you’re a fraud or lucky and if you’re confident about your ability, you’re uppity.

Regina was my biggest fan, she was family.

On the one-year anniversary of Len Wein’s death, before I could post my article marking that sad occasion my beloved cousin, Regina Keesley passed from this earth.

I made a promise to Regina that I would no longer tolerate those who question my intelligence or doubt my resume.

OR are stupid enough to FUCK WITH ME.

Ice Cube said; “I’m the wrong nigga to fuck with” and so am I.

I’m off to NYC for Regina’s service. I intend to tell her face to face I’m gonna keep my promise.

Funny, I’m going to show some folk my papers, just not the ones they expect.

I’m trying not to duplicate what I write. Bleeding Cool, ComicMix, and Pop Culture Squad have all run the same article at times. Not my intention— I want each entity to have exclusive content from me.

This article is exclusive to ComicMix.

I’m writing a series of articles called “The Ugly Side of Comics” at Bleeding Cool. I see “Confessions of An Uppity Negro” as a sister series but as original to ComicMix as “The Ugly Side of Comics” is to Bleeding Cool. I hope to start a series at Pop Culture Squad soon. Working title “Not Me.”

—Michael Davis  
LAX, 9PM, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018