Tuesday, August 30, 2016

GUNS OF THE BLACK BAT: NOW IN CIRCULATION!!!

Moonstone’s latest release of Ron Fortier and Eric Esquivel’s GUNS OF THE BLACK BAT: LAIR OF THE BAT might be the best to rise among this year's superhero team-ups. It invokes not only “Watchmen’”s “Minutemen”, but the rambunctious zeal of those exciting movie-serials of the decades past.


The brooding Black Bat is ultimately at the adventure's hub, but Airboy; the Golden Amazon; and the Skull also figure into the action, uncovering a link between Nazis and invaders from outer space. 

At first, the heroic crossover features a tinge of wariness among its members, but once they get to know one another (thanks to Black Bat's well intended coercion), they flow in merry unison: a refreshing turn in contrast to many recent, superhero team-ups, where hostility sadly prevails among the good guys.

Not only is Fortier and Esquivel’s story engaging (with snappy dialogue which fits its time frame to a tee), but Paul Delacroix’s artwork is beyond splendid, presenting each character with dynamic relish. (I must confess, I became instantly smitten with Golden Goddess’ statuesque curves.) Also, Michael Stribling's dynamic cover captures the best of old-time, movie-palace posters.

Get your copy LAIR OF THE BAT today at your local comic shop or through Moonstone Publishing: http://www.moonstonebooks.com/shop/.

I’ve no doubt you’ll be as thrilled with this installment as I am. Can’t wait for Issue #2!!!  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Collectible Time #68: Nate "the Animal" Gonzalez's Holy Trinity and Batgirl Bombshell Tributes

Nate "the Animal" Gonzalez has hit the bullseye once again with more colorful, DC superhero tributes!!!


First up is a fabulous trio which he calls "The Holy Trinity". It's a combo of previous portraits, featuring Adam West's Batman (see "Collectible Time #50": Jan '16), Linda Carter's Wonder Woman and Christopher Reeve's Superman. 

Gonzalez's 11" x 17" arrangement is impeccable, giving his spot-on representations of the thespians and their characterizations a divine sweep--holy, indeed!!!

In addition to the above print, I gained two 11" x 17" versions of Gonzalez's  most recent masterpiece, "Batgirl Bombshell".


What's neat about the initial (above) variation is its bright, throwback panache. This color implies a stained-glass quality, but even more so, it could act as convincing, WWII nose art: sexy and when need be, lethal.

The antiquated version (below) is equally fascinating, with a creased, golden, weather-worn aura: for all intents and purposes, a long-lost treasure from decades past. Its distinct hue and texture also represents that good, ol' Americana, folk-art flair. 


These three are marvelous prints to add to one's collection; so feel free to touch base with Nate at his Facebook page (aptly named, Nate "the Animal" Gonzalez) for prices and availability.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

ENGAGE YOUR SENSES WITH FERENTINO'S AFTER HOURS: EPISODE 3!!!


Michael and Jennifer Ferentino have produced yet another spectacular and surreal episode of After Hours: now available for viewing on YouTube. (You can also easily access such through the show's Facebook page at...https://www.facebook.com/groups/123880838018832/.)

In case you’re not yet hip to the scene, After Hours is the Ferentinos' wonderful hybrid of classic MTV and otherworldly anthology shows, like Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, with Michael acting as our sophisticated (and affably arcane) Rod Serling-esque host. (Check out my July and June posts on the previous offerings.)


Episode 3 presents another super mix of sight and sound, centering on the spellbinding work of U.K. artist Kieran Mahon. Mahon’s music, like Mr. Ferentino's imaginative Bedtime for Robots compositions, is sweeping and at times, delightfully disturbing. In this respect, Mahon's material is uninhibitedly offbeat, but also exudes a consoling, gradual-build jubilation, where the weird and the mystical mesh without hitch. Mahon's work is also spiritual (at least to me): not hymn-like by any means, but equipped with a transcending, electronic ascension that sends one toward the clouds or more precisely, another dimension. (The episode's presented video accompaniment only adds to the euphoric strangeness.)


To accompany Mahon's fine samplings, Episode 3 presents additional psychedelic imagery and splendid, untamed audio. (Bedtime for Robots' "Sham" and "Easter" are strong cases in point.) During the presentation, the concoctions stretch, pulsate and hypnotize, making the half-hour journey a winner to anyone who hankers for material beyond the norm.

I urge you check out After Hours when you can. (Heck, treat yourself to a three-episode marathon.) Nothing else compares to it on any entertainment source today. I'm confident that the series is here to stay, and we should all feel blessed for its trailblazing manifestation!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Collectible Time #67: Atlantis/Revell Phantom/Witch Doctor Reissue

Straight out of the Sunday funny papers comes Lee Falk's The Phantom (aka, the Ghost Who Walks), as represented in this Revell reissue by Atlantis.


Some months back I yearned for this re-release, having obtained Atlantis' reissue of Alex Raymond's comic-strip space adventurer, Flash Gordon (see "Collectible Time #55": March '16).

As with Flash (who's packaged with a little Martian figure), the 1/8 scale Phantom (who we well know spanned several, heroic Walker descendants) is accompanied by his own companion: a leaping Tiki-ish Voodoo Witch Doctor, who in his own right, stands as a mighty fine retro-piece.


I obtained my kit through Z&Z Hobbies at a most reasonable price. (Most retailers offer it for about $30.)

This one is certainly worth obtaining for nostalgic reasons and more importantly, commemorates the greatest, jungle hero ever to bolt out of the Bangalla vegetation!!! 

Long live the Phantom!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Goodbye, Kenny Baker...


From an uncredited role in "Circus of Horrors", to the "Star Wars" chapters, "Time Bandits", "The Elephant Man", "Flash Gordon", "Labyrinth", "Willow" and beyond, you were one mighty fine actor. Thanks for leaving your memorable mark.Your legacy has touched us all.

Friday, August 12, 2016

I saw Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues...


As far as motion-comic presentations go, Shout! Factory's "Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues" is a peculiar one. The style of this Gail "Birds of Prey" Simone epic is unlike other motion comics, such as "Watchmen", "Killing Joke" or the various disjointed Marvel samplings that have surfaced over the years. This one is almost pure animation, except that Walter "Witchblade" Geovani's artwork flows at a surreal, sluggish pace: panels devoid of borders or caption balloons; but faithful to the original source in both an admirable and yet ponderous manner. In other words, traditional animation done in Geovani's style would have been a wiser choice in this instance. 


Regardless, "Queen of Plagues" is a rambunctious (and at times, quite austere) adventure, pitting the She-Devil with a Sword against a spiritual sister: the relentless and misguided Dark Annisia. Both women once fought in the arena. Both became friends, or so it seemed, but with the passing of time, they've ended up on opposite ends. 

Dark Annisia has sallied forth to purge villages of the plague, even slaughtering children throughout her mad crusade, while conversing with hideous spirits that others cannot hear or see; and dear Red Sonja is led to believe that she, too, is infected by whatever the hell is spreading across the land; forced into exile (marked by an ominous tell-tale bird upon her comely face) and accompanied by her youthful but supportive companions, Alya and Nias.


Through Red Sonja's ordeal, there's much reflection, most catering to her relationship with Annisia and an ill-fated alliance with a king, who she learns was assassinated. (Additionally, the king's disenchanted, alchemist son figures in, yearning to avenge his father's death.) The story also presents the heroine's development from an early age and the injustice forced upon her, making Simone's tale a tense and fierce reboot of the legend: an otherworldly "I Spit on Your Grave", one might say. 

The dialogue is excellent, using the vernacular at times, but otherwise credible for its classic setting. The voice actors (with sexy Misty Lee in the lead) do a marvelous job bringing the principals to life, and of course, Geovani's designs (whether flowing slowly or paused) are wonders to behold. 


With some retellings, there's the tendency to get too cute and clever along the way (a kind of reinventing of the wheel, if you will), so that the characters and their tales lose the spirit that once distinguished them. "Queen of Plagues" doesn't fall victim to that. It recaptures the best of Marvel's Robert E. Howard modifications and embodies the best elements of any given David C. Smith/Richard Tierney early '80s novel. Those-in-the-know will be pleased. 


On another admirable note, "Queen of Plagues" (whether in the Dynamite Entertainment printed form or the disc version) makes no apologies for its realistic and emotional depiction of revenge, and therefore well reflects the spectrum of the human condition. It boldly defines right from wrong, when to fight and when to set down one's sword: all practical tactics to live by, even if presented within fantastic trimming. 

Whether one be young or old, male or female, there's a lot to enjoy and ruminate upon with this entry: a powerful piece of storytelling of a make-believe age gone-by that's as relevant as any modern-life essay. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Collectible Time #66: Brother Bones/Rob Davis Teaser Movie Poster

Coming soon from Franklin-Husser Entertainment LLC, "Brother Bones: The Movie"...and here's Rob Davis' teaser poster to commemorate it!!! I recently obtained a print from Davis, and boy, am I ever pleased that this 11" x 17" masterpiece is now part of my pulp-hero/superhero collection. Just look at that dynamic set-up, the striking color and atmospheric flair!!! 


For those of you who are (for whatever inexplicable reason) unfamiliar with Brother Bones, he's the creation of Airship 27 Productions' founder, Ron Fortier. The character's early adventures are detailed in Fortier's sterling anthology, "Brother Bones: the Undead Avenger". Bones was a criminal once known as Tommy Bonello, until he became transformed by fate into a skull-masked crusader, who's gruff, tough and darn easy to admire. 


Fortier's founding anthology and Roman Leary's novel, "Six Days of the Dragon", are excellent ways to introduce yourself to Cape Noire's brooding avenger. In these tales, you'll find supernatural intrigue, some science-fiction and loads of quirky characters to rival even those of exalted Batman and Flash fame.


Also, J. Scott Bennett, the brilliant voice performer (see "Jake Bible's Fighting Iron": May '16), offers dramatic readings of both publications (available through Amazon.com Audible), where his earthy, varied vocalizations grant the tales yet another rich layer. Listening to Bennett is, in fact, akin to listening to old-time radio classics: a perfect medium for a dynamic figure such as Brother Bones. 

Anyway, I'm sure glad I latched onto the burgeoning Brother Bones craze. You'd be wise to latch on, too!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I saw Suicide Squad...


Writer/director David Ayer's “Suicide Squad” is a comic-book refashioning of “The Dirty Dozen”, as is its animated companion piece, “Assault on Arkham” and its competing series, Marvel’s “Sinister Six”, which would have beat “Squad” to theaters if not for “Amazing Spider-man 2’”s embarrassing dissension. "Squad'"s leads, of course, are bad buys, with the hope that somewhere down the misguided line, they’ll do some good, but this gimmick also proposes a head-scratching dilemma: When dealing with villains this iconic, do we really want them to change? Depending on how one perceives it, the result can be either a blessing or a curse.





The story begins in "Batman v Superman's" melancholic wake, with concerns for safety erupting in Kal-El's absence. As a result, government employees Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman, who plays significantly in the film's long haul) dispatch a makeshift (and villain-based) squad to snuff out problems that others are unable or unwilling to tackle. In this instance, we have a demonic plague (triggered ironically by one of the recruits) that's turning a city's inhabitants into "Attack of the Mushroom People" type creatures. The squad, in a nod to Snake Plissken, is forced to quell the infectious spread (of course, with promises offered).


The characters (mostly Batman and/or Green Arrow linked) consist of the sexy yet insane Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie); the sensitive assassin-supreme Deadshot/Floyd Lawton (Will Smith); the pugnacious Captain Boomerang/Digger Harkness (Jai Courtney); the fiery El Diablo/Chato Santana (Jay Hernandez); the hulking Killer Croc/Waylon Jones (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje); the stealthy Slipknot (Adam Beach); the mysterious Katana (Karen Fukuhara);the mystical Enchantress/June Moone (Cara Delevingne); and of course, our always jubilant Joker (Jared Leto), a crime boss in this instance, who interferes with the mission in hopes of regaining his beloved Harley. (Ike Barinholtz is also on hand as memorable, wise-cracking prison guard.)



Throughout the adventure, there's ample action; a heavy layering of comic-book violence; hit tunes; snappy dialogue; and fascinating characterizations. (The first portion, a flashback lead-in, is reminiscent of "Deadpool'"s early phases in its manic, if not disorienting pace.) Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Erza Miller) make significant appearances, tying the excitement not only to "Batman v Superman", but the upcoming "Wonder Woman" and "Justice League". 


Performance-wise, everyone excels (and this is the film's indisputable strength), with attention devoted mostly to Leto, Robbie and Smith, who by their characters' designs and generous screen time, can’t help but steal most scenes. Smith, in this regard, is traditionally cordial, despite his character's austere past. In Leto’s case, we’re given the expected, prevailing creepiness: in essence, an extension of what Heath Ledger commenced, with some of Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Cesar Romero thrown in. In Robbie’s instance, it’s a non-stop combination of kooky sensuality and limb-twisting theatrics: her presence potentially iconic on a number of levels.


The film's weird, magnetic nature sets it high on the comic-book adaptation stack, but it also differentiates the film from others of its kind, including “Deadpool”, which still plays up the hero-at-large angle. “Squad” doesn’t have much of a traditional, moral base, therefore. How could it? This relegates the film to a questionable category. Yes, we end up rooting for the principals, but only within its monsters-attack context. We could never hope to elevate these folks above Batman, Flash, Superman and the like, and it's therefore impossible to latch unconditionally onto the group’s nature or cause, especially at those times when they reference their dismal deeds. In truth, these expendables operate for no other reason than to defeat a greater evil, which under any other circumstances, some might very well have joined. 


As a “Clockwork Orange”-meets-“Escape from New York” hybrid, "Squad" succeeds, but as much as it’s an official part of the DC theatrical Multiverse, it’s also a big-time odd-man-out. Don’t get me wrong, I damn well enjoyed the movie, but I’d have preferred these characters making appearances initially in solo Batman films, where good is good and bad is bad. 

On the other hand, we're introduced to individuals, who regardless of their immense flaws, work toward (albeit inadvertently) rehabilitation, with most risking their lives to achieve that goal. That element alone, I suppose, makes "Squad" worthy of appreciation and beyond what some might argue, the film still stands as a morality tale, even if an unorthodox one. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Collectible Time #65: Jonathan Myers Nosferatu "Symphony of Horror" Prints

My talented friend, Jonathan Myers, is working on an epic, graphic-novel tribute to F.W. Murnau's chilling, silent "Dracula" adaptation, "Nosferatu". To keep us content while his Max Schreck salute is completed, he's offering three atmospheric prints, culled from his dark work in progress. The series, like the developing novel, is entitled "Symphony of Horror", and its entries are available through Society6, with each print measuring a stylish 7" x 10". 


"Nosferatu Deathbird" (above) represents the Count's eerie control over the elegant, young couple featured, with menacing, shifting eyes and a clawed hand of disquieting command. The blue backdrop meshes well with the Count's circled orbs, accented by earthy browns and a sprinkle of glowing yellow. 

"Shadow of Nosferatu" (below) offers another chilling angle of the Count, with his haunting, contemplative countenance stationed in the lower portion and smoky, ascending plumes standing in lieu of his unraveling thoughts. 


Last but not least is a design of Gothic furnishing called "Nosferatu Clock": layered in rich detail and ominous atmosphere. The deep-blue backdrop sets off the grays and brownish reds, giving the structure both distinction and a quality of dread. 


One can, in fact, order the prints framed (as I opted to do), but in either format, one will surely be pleased with the results, particularly if one fancies the 1922 Murnau classic or simply Gothic horror in general.

Visit the Society6 Myers "Nosferatu" page for details on pricing and availability at... https://society6.com/search/prints?q=jonathan+myers+nosferatu. Truly, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain three of the best "Nosferatu" tributes ever to rise from the grave!!!

MICHAEL HOUSEL'S THE PERSONA...AVAILABLE NOW AT AMAZON AND BARNES & NOBLE!!!


THE PERSONA (Vol. 1, aka, ENTER--THE PERSONA!), by yours truly, Michael F. Housel, is currently available at Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Persona-Enter--1/dp/0997786817/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468275007&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+f.+housel); and Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-persona-michael-f-housel/1124078038?ean=9780997786811).

Per Airship 27 Productions' founder, Ron Fortier, the novel holds the best opening sales to date of any Airship publication. 

I'm certain that Shannon Hall's wonderful cover and Rob Davis' back design have contributed to the attraction. The novel also sports nine, glorious illustrations by Canadian artist, Art Cooper, whose work exudes a remarkable Jack Kirby flair.


The story contains elements of the Shadow and Dr. Strange, its hero being Michael Mansford, a wealthy man about town, who's granted a mystical mask which allows him to absorb the crimes of others, so that he may toss their selfish acts back at them. 

If you fancy period-piece dramas, with a spice of magic, mystery and psychedelia, THE PERSONA is for you. 

PS: You'll also find more PERSONA info at Rob and Ron's Airship 27 Podcast #17: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNXEDTJz5iA&feature=youtu.be. You're guaranteed to enjoy the visit!