Mage: The Hero Denied #13

Friday, November 30th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage The Hero Defined 13-small“Remember, Kevin, in the world of magic … things aren’t always as they seem!”

That’s a line from Mirth in this latest issue. This time, I’ll talk about what we see in this issue (spoilers), as well as what I think is really going on (double spoilers).

So, it opens with Mirth appearing before Kevin and Miranda, telling them that his power has been greatly reduced as Kevin’s power has grown. All he can do at this point is guide them to the Umbra Sprite’s lair and advise them along the way.

Meanwhile, Magda and Hugo are still wandering through the Umbra Sprite’s lair when they are approached by one of the Gracklethorns. This one is taken out rather easily with a can of magic hairspray. And by “taken out,” I mean killed, because Magda tells her son that they have to hide the body before they move on. They choose to hide in a closet and re-think their strategy, but the closet door that Magda opens leads into a vast cavern complex.

Back to Kevin and Mirth, with two pages of dialogue that I think gives away the game. Kevin mentions that Mirth’s hair has gone from white to black again, assuming that he has finally recovered from being trapped in a bank teller machine way back in the first series. Mirth mentions that the bandages that cover his legs (or specifically the spaces where his legs once were) are now also covering his arms, as he’s acquired new scars. He then ridicules Kevin for thinking that his one bat-strike against the Umbra Sprite in the second volume could have done anything more than annoy it.

Eventually, Mirth is able to dispel the illusion that hides the Umbra Sprite’s tower. Kevin manages to defeat a two-headed acid-spewing dragon and then Kevin, Mirth, and Miranda make their way into the cavern at the base of the tower. Of course, the caverns that they enter at the bottom of the tower look similar to the caverns that Magda and Hugo enter near the top of the tower, implying that they’ll meet each other somewhere in these caverns, probably next issue. It’s also significant that we see the imp hiding behind a rock, observing Kevin, Mirth, and Miranda.

The issue ends with Karol Gracklethorn, working in a rescue mission in her human guise, being approached by a one-legged hippie who announces that he is the Fisher King and that he knows she’s been looking for him. And that’s the issue.

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Stan Lee, the World’s Greatest Comic Book Writer: 1922-2018

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(1) The Elder Statesman-small

I never really thought Stan Lee would die. I’ve been saying for years that as long as there was a single nickel to be squeezed, Stan the Man would be making his cameo and taking his executive producer credit and raking in the long green.

I guess we now live in a nickleless universe, and there will be a blank spot somewhere around the margins of the next Marvel cinematic blockbuster. Stan Lee took a last intrepid leap into the Negative Zone on Monday, November 12. He was 95.

As W.S. Gilbert wrote long ago, “I often think it’s comical/How nature always does contrive/That every boy and every gal/That’s born into the world alive/Is either a little Liberal/Or else a little Conservative!” Gilbert and Sullivan never wrote a comic opera about superheroes (oh that they had!), but the observation applies as much to comic books as it does to politics. It’s certainly possible to appreciate both, but at the end of the day you’re either Marvel or you’re DC.

When I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s, in the prime of my comic book buying and reading years, I was DC all the way. I had hundreds of comics, but very few were Marvels. There was something about them that I just didn’t trust. The combination of self-mockery and over-the-top rhetoric put me off. The goofy syntax and leather-lunged self-promotion that screamed from a thousand Gil Kane-drawn covers proclaimed that unlike the solid, stolid DC products, these weren’t serious comic books. (You know what I mean — titles like “Whence Comes the Werebeast!!” and banners proclaiming that the story is “Another Mighty Masterpiece in the Munificent Marvel Manner!!” and stuff like that.)

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The Beauty in Life and Death: An Interview with Sebastian Jones

Sunday, October 21st, 2018 | Posted by SELindberg

Erathune-small Niobe She is Death-small Essessa-small

Niobe returns to reclaim her throne in 3 tales. Get the Erathune hardcover, She is Death #1 & #2, and the vampire epic, Essessa #1!

It is not intuitive to seek beauty in art deemed grotesque/weird, but most authors who produce horror/fantasy actually are usually (a) serious about their craft, and (b) driven my strange muses. This interview series engages contemporary authors & artists on the theme of “Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction.” Previously we cornered weird fantasy authors like John Fultz, Janeen Webb, Aliya Whiteley, and Richard Lee Byers. Recently we heard from the legendary author and editor of weird fiction, Darrell Schweitzer!

This round we corner Sebastian A. Jones: Author, actor, and teacher, Sebastian A. Jones grew up in England and moved to America at the age of eighteen where he founded MVP Records, releasing albums that included James Brown, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday. In 2008 he founded Stranger Comics and Stranger Kids. Sebastian has written children’s books including Pinata and co-created the I Am book series with Garcelle Beauvais, including titles I Am Mixed and I Am Living in 2 Homes. Under Stranger’s dark fantasy line Asunda, he has received critical praise for his written work on The Untamed: A Sinner’s PrayerDusu: Path of the Ancient, and Niobe: She is Life, co-authored by Amandla Stenberg.

Note that the Asunda, the world of Niobe, is being realized with Pathfinder for RPG lovers. Check out the recent Paizo interview for more, and the ongoing Kickstarter which brings an omnibus versions of Niobe to life.

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Sorcerous Worlds at Valiant Comics

Saturday, October 13th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage 2-small

I attended New York ComicCon last weekend and am still processing a lot of it. The definition of drinking through a fire hose is certainly apt. By Friday afternoon and all of Saturday, walking through the exhibit hall or artist alley was an exercise is fluid dynamics, but I was there for panels, especially the publisher panels where they talked about their editorial vision and about their new titles.

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New Treasures: The Fantastic Four: Behold… Galactus! by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne and John Buscema

Friday, October 5th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantastic Four Behold Galactus 2

Just how big is the monster-sized Fantastic Four: Behold… Galactus! from Marvel Comics?

HUGE. Several comparison shots have popped up (including Charles R Rutledge’s side-by-side with a Robert Parker hardcover), but my favorite is the one above, borrowed from Bobby Nash’s Patreon page, which shows the book alongside a regulation-size graphic novel. Behold… Galactus! is an impressive 13.5 x 21.2 inches; big enough to double as a kitchen table.

Any way you slice it, this book is a beast. Its massive 312 pages contain virtually all of the early tales of Galactus from Fantastic Four, including Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved 60s classic “The Coming of Galactus” (from Fantastic Four #48-50) and its sequel “When Calls Galactus” (FF #74-77), plus the Lee-Buscema tale “Galactus Unleashed” (FF #120-123), and John Byrne’s 80s take on the Big G, from FF #242-244 (which includes the famous free-for-all “Everyone Versus Galactus,” from FF 243.)

Monster format aside, these classic stories still make terrific reading, especially the Lee-Kirby tales. The Fantastic Four remains my favorite Marvel Comic, and this book will help you understand why. It was published by Marvel on September 11, 2018. It is 312 pages, priced at $50 in hardcover and $24.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Alex Ross. See all our recent Comics coverage here.


New Horror Comics: Harrow County and Witch Creek Road

Saturday, September 29th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

wcr2

One of the forms of fantasy I’m interested in is horror. I can’t say I quite understand how it works, not enough for me to write it well consistently. So I’ve been looking at different works of horror, trying to learn. I blogged about Marvel’s horror comic Carnage, older horror comics like Eerie, year’s best collections like Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror Volume 8, movies like The Exorcist and The Shiningand classics like DC’s Swamp Thing.

Lately my reading has turned to Dark Horse’s Harrow County, by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Cook. It’s been heavily lauded in the comics press, has tons of great creators singing its praises, and I’ve been discovering it with delight.

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Mage: The Hero Denied 12

Thursday, September 27th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 12Before we begin this review, you might still be on the fence about whether or not to even start reading this series. If so, there’s a list of eight great reasons to start the series, with number 7 being the very best of them.

The way this last mini-series has been set up is that Matt Wagner will release four monthly issues, take a one-month break, release four more monthly issues, then another one-month break, four more monthly issues, a one-month break, then the final three issues. While this process allows everyone involved a bit more breathing room when putting out a regular series, it also ends up creating three extra-special cliffhangers. What that means for issue 12 is that we’re getting to the last special cliffhanger of the series before Matt Wagner finally powers through to the big finale.

It opens with Magda and Hugo stuck on a platform, being attacked by snake women. Last issue, we saw Magda’s Mary Poppins umbrella trick. This issue, we see her Penguin umbrella trick as she uses it as a gun to melt two of them before another one destroys it.

Meanwhile, the Umbra Sprite takes a dip in her pool of darkness in order to gather even more power, stating that “The Three” MUST be united for the plan to work. Of course, she still has no idea about who exactly composes “The Three,” although she’s fairly sure that Kevin and the Fisher King are two of them. Before submerging, she essentially places Karol in charge, warning her that “Sasha is a vain and vapid creature” and “Zophia (is) a slave to her own cruelty.” She then informs her most trusted daughter that all four of the remaining Gracklethorns must be prepared to fight and likely to die in the coming struggle. Given that she murdered one of her daughters in the previous issue, there’s no doubt that the Umbra Sprite is prepared to sacrifice all of them to achieve her goals. It’s also clear that the daughters so fear the Umbra Sprite that they’re willing to die rather than defy her.

Elsewhere, Kevin and Miranda are pursuing the mysterious imp. Despite knocking down some trees, Kevin loses not only the imp, but also the Questing Beast, who slips through a magic portal, sealing the portal behind itself. Even worse than losing their quarry, the magic mirror that Isis gave Kevin to stay in touch with Magda has been cracked.

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Analyzing the Comics Story-Telling Process with Panel x Panel

Saturday, September 15th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Panel x Panel 5

I enjoy analyzing the craft of comic books quite a bit. I’ve interviewed comic book editors like Heather Antos, Xander Jarowey, Daniel Ketchum, and creators like Plaid Klaus of Image’s Void Trip, or I’ve looked a specific genres, like horror, old and not so old and new.

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A Conversation with 2000AD‘s Rory McConville

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

2000AD page1-small

I’ve been reading 2000AD regularly for a few years now, and I noticed that more and more of the stories are being written by Rory McConville. First a Future Shock here and there, then a 3-part Tharg 3riller, and now multi-part Dredd stories. Since more than a few Black Gate readers are 2000AD fans, so I wanted to chat with Rory about his success and caught up with him online. Welcome to Black Gate, Rory!

Cheers, Derek. Thanks for having me!

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Goth Chick News: Everyone Needs an Exorsister

Thursday, August 30th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Exorsisters 1-small

When we were little, my cousin and I used to discuss our future career aspirations. Connie, who was a few years older, had what seemed like an unusual obsession with becoming a truck driver — unless you knew she was binge-watching BJ and the Bear courtesy of the cable channel Nick at Night, and was teen-aged crushing on Gregg Evigan. So, the whole truck-driver thing actually made sense.

Meanwhile, I was sneaking into the family room in the wee hours to watch old Universal Studios monster movies on the public access channel. While Connie dreamed hunky guys calling her some cute name over their rig’s CB radio, I either wanted to look for mummies in the desert or be a gypsy fortune-teller.

Connie thought I was strange.

Years later, she went on to be Miss Illinois before moving to NYC for a soap opera stint followed by a lucrative career on Broadway. I’m writing a weekly horror column under the bi-line “Goth Chick.” All this also makes sense when you think about it.

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