Looking Into the Eyes of a Moonwalker

  
  

The clouds parted, the sun came out and the geek gods declared: “Let there be FanX!” And, so began my first day back at Salt Lake Comic Con. That said, there was a bit of a nip in the air Thursday, as we took the Frontrunner up to SLC–I was glad of my coat. 

Upon arriving, the line outside was scraggly, and for press registration, non-existant; my colleague and friend, Jeremiah Stewart and I, walked right up to the check-in desk. 

Once we received our RFID wristbands and programs, and tapped-in, we began to do some recon of the layout. I spotted the Founder/Producer of SLCC, Dan Farr, chatting with a group of folks in the hall; catching my eye, he gave me a smile and a wave, continuing his conversation; his message, however, was clear: “Welcome. Good to see you.” For a smallfry, freelance writer–who’s in way over his head, that small gesture was HUGE; I felt like I was home. It set the tone for the rest of the con. But, then…that’s how these guys make all of us feel, when we’re here–especially FanXperience! Because, they’re geeks, too!! You’ve seen their posts; they love this stuff!

The opening press conference was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Palace Convention Center, kicking-off this more-intimate, fan-focused con (ticket sales are capped at 50,000 per day; giving it a more even-ratio of fans to guests). Returning SLCC fan fave Rob Prior began working on the clown (above) and we got going. Despite the very subdued air of this usually loud, adrenaline-amping, ‘ARE YOU READY FOR COMIC CON?!’ pep rally–I wasn’t the only one who expressed this view–this con was the best one, so far. 

That huge ballroom seemed cavernously-empty, though (as compared to previous events), with only the press and guest celebrities inattendence; and I didn’t see as many cosplayers, either, as we’ve seen in the past. In fact, Bryan Brandenburg was finding it difficult to get any excitement out of the press corps. “Is that really all you’ve got?” he asked, after a couple of lackluster cheers.

If there was a pall at the press conference, it might’ve had a bit to do with the passing of Roxanne Hasegawa from breast cancer, earlier this year. Indeed, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg (the rockstars behind SLCC) dedicated [this] FanX to Rox: “She was one of us – a real geek and lover of pop-culture. Her endless love and enthusiasm for Salt Lake Comic Con cannot be replaced.” The former ‘Good Things Utah’ producer was represented by her family at the event and two of her personal charities of choice were accepting donations throughout the con, in her honor: Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah and Firemen and Friends for Kids

   
 

The mood lifted considerably when the original ‘moonwalker,’ Dr. Buzz Aldrin took the stage; where he was presented with a beautiful portrait made out of LEGOS. This was a real treat, for me; and as I came ip in front of the stage to take his picture, he looked right down at me and gave me a big smile. I mouthed a ‘Thank you’ and waved; which he returned. Holy brain spasm! Talk about your ‘Bucket List’ add-on! Ultimate FanXperience Level: Unlocked! That was an honest-to-goodness fanboy moment, for this Florida country boy who’d been able to watch Space Shuttles launch from a tree in his frontyard. Soon-to-follow Buzz, were Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, Mitch Pileggi, William B Davis, Erica Carroll, Ms. US Ambassador, and more. We got our chance to meet-and-greet the guests, then Jer and I were off. 

   

Now, this is when I get excited! Not because of the celebrities–although, if I happen to come across one, I’ll say hello and shake hands–but, I’m here for Artist Alley and the dealer tables; I’m here to see authors and creators; I want to talk to people and guage their reactions to what they’re seeing, what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling about the con(s); being in retail/customer service most of my working-life, I’m naturally curious about whether the artists, writers, vendors are making a profit and if their traffic-numbers are good or poor, are the fans treating them fairly and respectfully; and vise-versa – are the fans being treated fairly, are they experiencing difficulties or having issues with staff. The most-recurring complaints I heard during this 3-day-run were 1) the wifi service was really lousy–I agree; as I experienced the difficulties, myself, 2) the positioning of KIDCON was causing congestion and feelings of claustrophobia around the photo op queue and sales areas and 3) confusion about lines in Celebrity Row and Celebrity Photo Ops. 

The past issues with lines and wait times have eased-up considerably with early registration, writsbands, more entrances into the venue, and the continuance of recruiting nearly a thousand volunteers, to keep things running smoothly. During my time there, I heard of no major occurrances or incidents taking place. The FanX apps are continuing to see upgrades after each event, as well; it’s so much easier to find things on it–unless, there’s no wifi or signal… Other than that, everything seems to streamlined and geared towards a more-efficient traversing of the venue.

  

FanX16 had some really cool things to offer, to just about everyone: The Walking Dead Experience, SLCC Bash, Dead 7, Doctor Who Ultimate FanXperience, Twisted Toonz, Cosplayers and Contests, Gaming; not-to-mention the SOLD OUT screening of Batman v Superman. I have it on good authority that Dean ‘Superman’ Cain was there, and he wowed the Fans! I know a certain ‘Catwoman’ who was particularly smitten by the Super-Stud, when he gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek! If you wanted authors, there were 28 of them doing official signings (there 56 different signings scheduled, as well as a few who were working their booths, such as NYTBS Kevin J. Anderson, Robecca Moesta, Larry Correia. 

As far as Artist Alley goes, some fans (myself included) found the layout a bit confusing; saying, it makes it especially difficult to find booth numbers, and in some cases colors of the booths, if booths are covered with cloths and merchandise that is brought in by the creators, themselves. Fans would like to see some kind of directions/markers at eye-level, or above; so as not to be constantly looking down at the floor; large name placards/signs would help, too. 

On a brighter note, numerous guests in the Alley expressed great satisfaction with the con overall. FanX16 program cover artist Adriana Melo (who was attending for the first time) was very pleased with her Xperience here. “It’s so beautiful,” she told me. “Everyone has been so friendly.” On Saturday, she seemed quite satisfied with the amount of traffic and sales she’d received during the course of the con; (I, was quite pleased to be the owner of one of her exceptional Star Wars personalized-prints). Like everyone else, though, lack of adequate bandwidth was her Achilles heel. 

(On a side note: there were issues with wifi throughout the con; from the beginning, to the conclusion. Adriana and I were faced with an issue of trust, before the floor even opened. I had no cash, her credit card app wasn’t loading and–in running our mouths–she’d already signed my print, to me. Taking the high ground–like a BOSS!–Adriana allowed me to take it home; me – vowing upon my name, and my reputation as a spokesperson of integrity for the con, that I would return the next day. I did; and, I think a friendship was born… Adriana is a class act.) 

SLCC and FanX favorite Bill Galvan  (whom-was gracious enough to give me an interview for Bombad Radio) expressed his love for these cons, as well; being a local artist, Bill knows a lot of the local fans and he likes meeting new ones. Indeed, finally getting to meet one-another,at this con; having prior dealings only on social-media channels. But, all of the guests and vendors were as accommodating with their time; plus – I experienced exceptional customer-service at the MTC Toys booth; returning a defective shirt and winding up with something better, in exchange! 

 

I know… You want to hear about the stars – amirite? Well, they were here, alright! In addition to the aforementioned celebrities at the pc, FanX brought in Levar Burton, Gillian Anderson, Kate Beckinsale, Matt Smith, Alex Kingston, Summer Glau, George Takei, Jeremy Renner (a real standup guy, by the way), Michael Traynor, and a slew more! I was fortunate enough to meet Gary Lockwood–a childhood staple on some of my favorite television shows in the 70’s & 80’s; his table was empty when I happened-up on him; so I stopped and shook ‘Lt. Gary Mitchell”s hand. I was glad to make his acquaintance.

Panels… Unfortunately, my time was limited and I only attended a couple; but they were entertaining, the panelists were funny and the audiences were engaged in the discussions–some terrific questions, too. The program boasted 350 panelists, contributing to 230 hours of scheduled programs throughout. I believe it. 

 

Young or old; short or tall; whether you be brown, purple, blue, teal, red, silver or multi tone; feathered, furred, scaled or covered with tinfoil; or just posing as a Salt Lake Comic Con ‘Superfan,’ there was something fun for everyone in the galaxy. Just watchimg cosplayers for 3 days would have been incredible, to me; there were some epics! 

 

As I said today on my Facebook page: the love and commitment that Dan Farr, Bryan Brandenburg and the entire Salt Lake Comic Con team have for bringing the ‘Greatest Comic Con in the World’–not once, but TWICE a year–to SLC is second to none. They’re not just talking-the-talk; they’re walking-the-walk. When they say, “WE WILL ROCK YOU!” – they damn-well mean it! 

They plan to kickoff Salt Lake Comic Con 2015, September 1-3. As always, the environment is superfriendly for kids–did I mention KIDCON?! When it all comes down to it, that’s who comic cons are for: the inner kid iside all of us. I agree with Bill Galvan, that interest in comic books has never been higher [because of movies like the Avengers and Batman v Superman; and superhero TV shows like GOTHAM, DareDevil, Supergirl and Flash] and if we can just boost the signal, we’ll keep our characters going for the next generation, and beyond. Now…where’s that set of transdimensional, subspace-fluxing rabbit ears I had..?

 
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

  

The Dynamic Duo Turns 50!

 

Holy Golden Anniversary, Batman! On January 12, 1966, ABC premiered a new television show that would be hailed as a phenomenal success, and would forever change the landscape of pop-culture. Today, good citizens, Batman – that iconic TV classic – turns 50. And, I rejoice! 

I was born 5-months, later, so Batman has been with me my entire life. My strongest memories of the caped-crusaders came in the mid-70’s, when it was airing in syndication. But, it’s this incarnation of Batman and Robin that has shaped my perceptions of these superheroes, since then. Indeed, this Greenway Production, (developed by Lorenzo Semple, Jr.), starring Adam West and Burt Ward has had a major impact on the Batman genre across the board; be it comic books, cartoons, movies, novels, fan-fiction, art – my God, the art! –  our society’s love for these campy, colorful, quirky crime-fighting denizens of Gotham City, stems from Batman, the TV show. 

 

As a kid of 7 (and – on into my teens), Batman captivated me, fueling my fascination with the masked-manhunter, to this day. Along with Adam West (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Burt Ward (Robin/Dick Grayson), Alan Napier (Alfred) and Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon), who can forget the performances of Cesar Romero (Joker), Julie Newmar (Catwoman), Burgess Meredith (Penguin) and Frank Gorshin (Riddler); or Vincent Price (Egghead) and Victor Buono (King Tut); and – of course, the late Yvonne Craig, as the definitive Batgirl/Barbara Gordon. How about the Batmobile and the Batcave, or the Batcomputer and those Batgadgets…stars of the show in their own rights; all of it left an indelible impression upon me. 

 
 

Sure, there were some real clunkers – especially, in the third season, but when it first-aired, Batman was a national sensation. Sudden fans of the show would gather ’round their water coolers, at work, to discuss the latest villains, deathtraps and cliffhangers, and to marvel at the ingenuity that the Dynamic Duo used to escape, and – to foil the diabolical plots of those fiendish foes! Batman was all the rage, man! It was hip, it was cool, and it packed a solid punch that left Americans dazzled, as never before. It had everyone clamoring to get to their sets; whether it was the stars in Hollywood, who wanted to be on Batman, or – your average citizen in TV Land, wanting to watch them – Batman changed the game.  

 

The show has been dissected, inspected and reflected-upon, by fans- and, critics-alike, but one thing remains clear: Batman is here to stay. You might say, it’s in a renaissance period; what – with the release of the DVD/Blu-Ray collection, the internet and streaming options, podcasts and books, merchandising; even returning to syndication for a whole-new generation of fans to enjoy. 


Batman has been a touchstone in all of our lives, and it raised the bar for everything down the line. I mean, it was the first TV series to be shown in vivid Technicolor; it was the first to be aired twice a week; it was the first to have a female superhero – Batgirl; and Batman was the first to boast such an incredible lineup of guest star’s. Batman is even getting a new animated movie, with Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprising their iconic roles, with voiceovers for their Batman, Robin and Catwoman characters! Groovy!

 

In 2013, DC Comics rebooted the popular classic in comic book format: Batman ’66; bringing with it, all of the magic and pizzazz that made the TV show such a success; while poking fun at the show’s much-touted faults, as well. Not only did the reboot give us new stories, but Batman ’66 gave us new characters, such as Two Face, Lord Death Eater, Bane and Poison Ivy. Plus, we’re getting crossovers like Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet, and – The Man From U.N.C.L.E; with more on the way. 

 

Whether you love it, or – loathe it, Batman has most-assuredly left its mark on all of us. The Batman we enjoy, today, was tempered by Batman, in the past; and make no mistake, Batman will influence the Batman we’ll see in the future. Good and bad, young or old, Batman remains a beloved treasure for billions of fans worldwide, and I foresee it being just as popular, to unborn fans, 50 years from now.  

  

I can’t wait to see what’s next! Until, then…stay tuned! Same Bat Time… Same Bat Channel… 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Six Months ‘Til 50…

 

Well, here we all are at the close of another calendar year, and for the most part, I made it through 2015 unscathed. That’s not to say that it didn’t have its dark sides; but the lights in the darkness – YOU – guided me on those oftentimes bleak days, giving me reason to chug-on. I’ll chalk 2015 up as a ‘lessons learned, bridges burned, scars earned, the pages turned’ kind of year. 

I was laidoff at the beginning of 2015, but found other employment pretty-quickly (and, closer to home). I reluctantly left the group I held so dear – VisionaryTrek; and, yes…I will forever be grateful to them for allowing me to make many contributions, and in allowing me to share some of the rewards for our hard work. Again, (pretty-quickly), I was invited to write for another group – Bombad Radio, that gives me more latitude (and, less mental stress). It’s been a good fit… 

 

2015 had some awesomeness included in it, too! The above photo is courtesy of artists Ali Ries and Keaira Raine-Kusanagi, who created ‘Eric’s Nebula’ for my birthday, in June. My redshirt avitar at the top is courtesy of M. Anthony Gerardo (who runs several fan pages on Facebook); and, yes…my hat was part of the deal, and it is regulation (for me)… 😉 Plus, an excerpt of my THE Q GAMBIT review was used as a blurb, on the back cover of that highly-acclaimed Star Trek series’s graphic novel! How cool was that, I ask?! I even got to bring in the inaugural episode of The O.S.I Files, with my friends David Lawson, and it’s host, John S. Drew! That was awesome!

   

Thanks, also, to J.K. Woodward for giving me another* cameo-appearance in BEHEMOTH #4; I won an ‘Honorable Mention’ prize in [their] ‘Do You Want To Die Horribly (In A Comic Book)?’ contest. As you can see, I’m getting my ass handed to me by Lucy; one of the many tortured characters in this new, awesome, gritty, young adult comic book series, co-created by JK and writer/actor Chris Kipiniak, for Monkey Brain Comics.

* I was included in IDW’s THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, last year…

As you may know, I don’t go to the movies, so I don’t have a lot to say about them. I haven’t even been to see (Gasp!) Star Wars: The Force Awakens – yet… Hey, I like to read! Some of my favorite books for 2015 include: Dayton Ward’s ARMAGEDDON’S ARROW, Dave Galanter’s CRISIS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, Kirsten Beyer’s ATONEMENT, David A. Goodman’s THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JAMES T. KIRK and Greg Cox’s CHILD OF TWO WORLDS – on the Star Trek side of things, that is. 

But, my favorite novel for 2015 was Alan Brennert’s wonderful PALISADES PARK; the dreams, the racial strife, the history of the park and it’s colorful characters, the rides!!! My God, I can still smell the cotton candy and French fries; and – the smoke of its devastating fires… You can read my full review, here; but I highly recommend it! 

 

In the world of comic books, I keep it pretty simple: Star Trek and Batman. There were some spectacular stories out of both genre’s in 2015, so choosing a favorite was difficult. 

 

Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL was my ‘Star Trek Top Pick’ for several reasons: 1) it put IDW in the honorable position of publishing it’s 50th issue, 2) it gave us ‘Mirror’ Kirk and Spock and – KHANNNNNNNNNNNNN, and 3) it gave me my pick for ‘Best Star Trek Cover of the Year’ with issue 51 (above). Tony Shasteen barely made it, beating the likes of Joe Corroney and Brian Miller, and Rachel Stott, or J.K. Woodward’s Star Trek/Green Lantern issue 4 variant and Cat Staggs’s variant-cover for issue 6, (in that same crossover series, THE SPECTRUM WAR). But, hey, Tony Shasteen just fucking nailed it with his ‘cracked mirror’cover! Phenomenal! 

 

On the Batman front, another latecomer swept-in to take the top spot honors – for ALL categories. That’s Batman ’66: #73 MAIN TITLE (Part 2). For the cover, Michael and Laura Allred took those cool toys from that bygone era, but they used the likenesses of Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin on them (as they’ve never been seen before). 

   

The Allred’s interior art, in-concert with Lee Allred’s brilliantly executed story, puts this series’s finale (in my book) over-the-top! It was a purrrrfectly apropos way of ending this series – at its beginning! Give issue 73 a read, and tell me you aren’t BIF-BAM-ZOK’d by its originality, crisp, on-point artwork and, by the sheer nostalgia of what they have done here! The only thing missing from issue 73 is a ‘Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-naah… Batman!!’ sound chip! It’s also-why I’m giving it ‘Best Comic Book of the Year! 

    
   

Looking back on 2015, it wasn’t awful… I got to see family that I hadn’t seen in a lonnnng time; brought in Erica’s 21st birthday and shared a cocktail with her; got to cover FanX (Nichelle Nichols -HELL-YEAH!!) and Free Comic Book Day; went to Vegas and got to see some cool stuff (PAWN STARS, baby!); got some new and old toys, lots of good books and comics…and, by God, I was blessed in so many small ways, that it makes the bad times seem trivial, in comparison. 

 

So, yeah… Bring your shit on, 2016! I’ll be sharing the 50-year-mark with the likes of Star Trek, Batman (the TV series), the Super Bowl, Slurpee and, yes – Barbie, just to name a few. Plus, I’ll get to spend it with all of you; on Facebook, Twitter, Batman Past, Present, FutureWhat’s That Book You’re Reading?Bombad Radio, and more! So…here’s to you, 2016… 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

 

Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL #51

  
Hey gang! After a few tech glitches (and a frantic holiday schedule), I’m finally getting this out! Actually, I almost missed this issue of Star Trek; I swear it wasn’t on my pull-list when I looked Wednesday, but I happened to check Comixology for something else (later in the week) and there it was! So…here I am. 

You probably noticed my new avatar (above), which comes courtesy of my good friend M. Anthony Gerardo on Facebook; he runs a page called Star Trek Comics Across Generations, (as well as several others), and he was kind enough to create it for me). Ever since NYTBS Dayton Ward created a character-namesake for me (Lt. Eric Cone) in Star Trek: The Fall – ‘Peaceable Kingdoms,’ I’ve wanted an avatar of me in a red shirt! (My character in that TNG novel wears gold, but I’m an old-school Trekkie; I prefer the TOS era, and – I’m the equivalant of a ‘redshirt’ who didn’t die!) The only thing I asked, was that he include my hat… I think it turned out pretty cool! 

Now, then… Let’s checkout issue 51 of LIVE^EVIL, eh…

  
Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL #51 (Part 2 of 3)

Published by IDW, LIVE^EVIL is written by Mike Johnson; the art is by Tony Shasteen and colored by Davide Mastrolonardo, with lettering-credits going to Neil Uyetake. Sarah Gaydos is the editor, with Roberto Orci consulting. Release date: November 25, 2015

 
Lieutenant’s Log: After a remarkable opening in #50, the U.S.S. Enterprise and crew find themselves hundreds of lightyears from their previous position; thrown into the Ceti Alpha system, they find life forms on Ceti Alpha V (a planet known to be unoccupied). Answering a desperate hail from the planet (asking for mercy), Captain Kirk leads a landing party down to the surface to figure out what the hell is going on. Imagine his surprise, when he finds himself face-to-face with John Harrison – er…make that Khan Noonien Singh!

Meanwhile, Spock finds their circumstances aboard Enterprise spiraling out of control, as a ship decloaks off of their starboard bow. The appearance of the I.S.S. Enterprise has them all shaking their heads; especially, when a goateed Captain Spock (and, faithful servant of the Terran Empire) demands that our Spock surrender! Boasting superior technology and weapons, Captain Spock makes short-work out of subduing our crew and taking over our Enterprise…

In another twist, Captain Kirk (of the Terran Empire, whom – presumably died in issue 16) is alive and well on Arronia II; in a totally surprising meet-up with Harry Mudd, Kirk vows to retake his ship away from Spock… 

   

The Story: Issue 51 is a stellar continuance of this story arc! Our Captain Kirk faces what he believes is a deadly enemy to the Federation, and – yet, he’s forced to trust Khan (who goes by Singh in this parallel universe); Singh claims to be a peaceful leader to his augmented people. After Captain Spock lays waste to Ceti Alpha V’s surface, (in an effort to wipeout Singh’s colony), Kirk has no choice but to believe him. Singh has a card up his sleeve, though: the Botany Bay. Kirk and party, hitching a ride, goes along with Singh as he makes all possible haste to Qo’nos.

Aboard Captain Spock’s Enterprise, Commander Spock tries to buy some time; but Captain Spock isn’t easily duped and he takes the first officer to (a terraformed and completely unrecognizable) planet Vulcan. It’s there, that Sarek will continue Spock’s interrogation… 

Aboard Enterprise (currently enroute to Earth for a major refit with Imperial technological upgrades), the evil Sulu is in command. However, things quickly change when a mohawked Pavel Chekov ‘gives himself a promotion.’ 

It all leads up to a face-to-face (albeit inevitable, and predictable) encounter, between two legends in the making…

My Take: First-off, this was a spectacular bridge issue, setting things up nicely for the conclusion, next month. The story flowed smoothly from one locale to another, there were plenty of plot twists and action, many questions were answered (while others remain titillatingly elusive, and it was fun watching our crew sparring with their evil doppelgängers aboard the Enterprises. Mike Johnson has me totally intrigued and I’m anxious to see how these events will play themselves out. 

 

Now, having said that, I do have a few questions; in fact, I contacted Mike Johnson to get some clarification and he answered me in-part, so I’ll address this first. In this version of the ‘mirror universe’ John Harrison doesn’t exist, yet – Benedict Cumberbatch’s likeness is used to represent Khan. My question was: Why did you decide not to use Ricardo Montalbán’s image for Khan? Johnson’s response: “As for Khan, we decided to use Cumberbatch because we wanted to keep it in the new movie universe.” Ok. I can live with that answer, as it might be confusing to the ‘new’generation of Star Trek fans. Although, it would have been badass (in my opinion) to’ve seen Montalbán’s Khan in this story; and it might have asssuaged some of the butthurt ‘older’ fans still feel with Into Darkness.

 

In Johnson’s previous sojourn into the Terran Empire (issues 15 & 16), Kirk and Scotty were left for dead, the Enterprise had been destroyed, Uhura had taken command of the Narada (yes, that Narada…), Captain Spock was on an unterraformed Vulcan – with an older ‘prime’ Spock (?) and we were left with the assumption that things on Earth were about to be radically changed. 

In this storyline, Spock is back in command of Enterprise, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov are back in uniform under his command, Kirk and Scotty are alive and, there’s no mention of Narada or ‘prime’ Spock, whatsoever. When I asked Mike Johnson if this story was a direct continuation of the events in the earlier ‘mirror’ timeline, he never responded. So…I’m not sure what to think; especially, as ‘mirror’ Kirk mentions those events, here. Maybe, Johnson will elaborate on this, at a later date.

As for the art in this issue, I’m having a tough time finding adjectives that voice how phenomenal (I think) Shasteen and Mastrolonardo’s work is! I’m totally loving how they have made the ‘evil’ counterparts so different from the characters we’re used to seeing: specifically, Spock’s awesome (if not, iconic) goatee and mustache, Chekov’s mohawk, Scotty’s (forgive me) ‘porn’stache and soulpatch, Uhura’s butch-cut hairstyle; even the I.S.S. Enterprise has a very formidable-looking grace to her. The differences are just subtle-enough to make it all work. 

 

And, my God… Checkout that incredible cover, folks! (I had to show it to you – again!) This is truly above-and-beyond! Indeed, I’m so taken with its brilliance, that I’m sending it out this week to get Mr. Shasteen’s signature…

Overall: I am loving this entire adventure – (in spite of the continuity issues I talked about). Mike Johnson knows (and loves) his Trek; Shasteen, Mastrolonardo and Uyetake damn-sure know how to put it down on those pages! This is a winner, all the way around! 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’

Lt. Eric Cone 

BEHEMOTH

 

On April 15th of 2015, a new comic book emerged from Monkey Brain Comics, called BEHEMOTH. Penned by actor and writer Chris Kipiniak, brought to life by J.K. Woodward and lettered by Jesse Post, BEHEMOTH is the YA four-issue chronicle of Theresa Fowler; she’s just your average, everyday teenaged-girl who has her life torn apart by a government conceived experiment, that has her mutating into something alien. 

Abducted from her home, (her family led to believe she is dead), Theresa finds herself transported to an undisclosed facility where she meets more kids undergoing similar changes. Theresa is tested, prodded, probed, left in the dark about her ‘condition’ or, her prognosis, and – ultimately, is given a choice by ‘Project Behemoth’s’ leader, Major Rayne: 1) live with similar creatures, being observed by scientists until her mind is completely gone, or 2) join the project, be trained to be deployed on missions vital to U.S. interests and security, with the ‘hopes’ that she might remain ‘more human’ for a longer period.

Given her limited options, Theresa joins the team and begins her training, and her new life. 

 

In Chapter 2 of BEHEMOTH, Theresa Fowler’s body continues its rapid transformation, while her mind slowly loses its grip on humanity. She chronicles her days at the facility as she meets her team, acclimates to the grueling training and testing and tries to retain those scraps of prior memories and the last vestiges of who she is. She becomes friends with Rex – the team’s de facto leader – taking his lead, as well as his sage survival advice, as the group prepares to go on its first mission: eliminating a Russian nuclear facility that has been taken over by unknown assailants. 

Meanwhile, (now – ‘General’) Rayne learns of Theresa’s romantic feelings for Rex and he sends a group of beasts out to take him down. However, his plan backfires as Rex fights back, and Theresa (joining the fight) ends up killing one of the team members (Simon) in a bloody rage (of which she remembers nothing). Still running on adrenaline, Rex kisses Theresa… 

 

In Chapter 3, Theresa and Rex’s romance continues to bloom, while General Rayne prepares ‘Behemoth’ for its first mission. Theresa is finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate and remember things (either, now, or – from her past), and she begins to doubt the ‘pack’s ability to carry the mission out to a successful conclusion. 

Knowing that the team in is trouble (especially Rex), Theresa goes to Gen. Rayne to plead their case; but the general knows what is going on between them, and he sees their feelings for one another as weakness. The mission is set; the team will carry it out, or – die. 

As the team heads for Russia, Rayne and ‘the doctor’ have a few words about the futures of the team members. But, the doctor is withholding vital information – data that may lead to a cure??

As this chapter ends, the team lands, begins their mission and loses their focus as Rex is killed before their eyes… Everything is unraveling in a hurry! Wracked with guilt, anger and grief, it proves too much and Theresa transforms completely into the killing beast she was meant to become… 

 

Tomorrow, December 9th, the final chapter in this four-part series comes to its explosive conclusion! Will the team complete their mission to survive another day? How will Theresa fare after the death of Rex, and her full metamorphosis into a killing mutant beast? Will she retain anything of her former self? What will become of General Rayne and ‘Project Behemoth’; and – How did the project get started to begin with?? Does the doctor have a cure? Well, like me, you’ll have to download this final installment of BEHEMOTH to find out.

As a sci-fi fan and freelance review writer, this type of thing isn’t usually ‘my bag’; however, I read it as a favor to JK and I was hooked from issue 1. Writer Chris Kipiniak has created a terrific ‘young adult’ comic-book series, that has an eclectic cast of characters, loads of action and drama, and puts a new spin on the ‘genre’ of human-to-mutant evolution, genetic manipulation and govenmental experimentation. Especially-so, with Theresa Fowler, as you get caught-up in her very real, personal struggle to survive her ordeal. I’m anxious to see how this thing ends! 

As for (BEHEMOTH co-creator) JK Woodward’s art, man – there just aren’t enough adjectives available to praise him! Not only, did he have the task of bringing these bodaciously-badass creatures to life on these pages, but he had to evolve them along the way, too! And, by god, he has acquitted himself as the ‘master of the game’ that he is. Truly stunning work! 

Jesse Post is also to be commended for his work, here; as it was no easy task (I’m sure) to convey Theresa’s deteriorating thoughts in her ‘mental’ journals. Just fantastic! 

Overall, I have to give BEHEMOTH four stars. There were some ‘minor’ hiccups, in regards to Major/General Rayne’s rank, in issues 1 & 2, but the rest of this series has been exemplary! I honestly feel like I’m there, going through the changes and the dogged training-scenarios that the team must carry out – over, and over, and over, again! And, I’ll just say this: General Rayne is a prick! (Or, is he?) I seriously hope to see these characters, again, later down the line.

   

On a personal-note… The above panels feature me, yours truly, as I (the guy flailing, there) get my ass handed to me by ‘Lucy.’ I’m also on Lucy’s monitor, in the lower-panel. See, this is how it all went down… In June, BEHEMOTH fans were invited to enter a ‘Do You Want To Die Horribly (In A Comic Book)?’ contest. Yeah, I was all-about that shit! So, I met the contest’s specs and submitted my ‘most-horrifying death face…’ I did not win; but JK was kind enough to give me an ‘honorable-mention’ prize, just the same… Well, I’m truly honored, for sure! 

The ‘real’ winners are: Magda Kipniniak, Andrew Grusetskie, George Hanna and Jeff Streeter; plus a bunch of other personal friends to the creators. So, be sure to get your copy of BEHEMOTH, tomorrow! 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL #52

  

Hey Folks! Yesterday was a good day to die (in a comic book)! That’s right! The conclusion to IDW’s Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL #52 released yesterday, and it wasn’t a happy ending for most of the ‘Mirror Universe’ crew. By my reckoning, the I.S.S. Enterprise has 3 remaining original characters left: Kirk, Bones and Uhura. But, I’ll leave it to you to see how this exceptional story arc ended. 

 

Star Trek: LIVE^EVIL #52 (Part 3 of 3) 

Published by: IDW Publishing. Written by: Mike Johnson. Art by: Tony Shasteen and Davide Mastrolonardo. Lettered by: Chris Mowry. Edited by: Sarah Gaydos. Story Consultant: Roberto Orci. Release Date: Dec. 9, 2015 

 

The Story: Kirk faces-off with ‘Mirror’ Kirk, on the bridge; ‘Mirror’ Spock faces-off with Spock, on Vulcan; the U.S.S. Enterprise faces-off with the I.S.S. Enterprise, near the unusual, universe-shifting, reality-twisting, ion storm’s coordinates; the Botany Bay, with augment Khannnnnnnnnnnnn!! Noonien Singh as her captain, faces them all… 

 

Lieutenant’s Log: Look at that art! My god, that’s fantastic! And, that’s just a taste of what you’ll find in this phenomenal conclusion. Mike Johnson and Co. have hit a grand slam! Starting with the explosive setup in Issue 50!! (including all of that brillant bonus-material that followed), setting us up with Issue 51 – a solid bridge-issue; then bringing it to a very good, satisfying close. I was actually laughing in a few places, too. Thanks to Johnson’s spot-on writing, in-concert with Shasteen/Mastrolonardo’s incredible art, I could hear Chris Pine playing the dual-roles; Quinto’s Spock, as well. 

When ‘Mirror’ Kirk finally boards his ship (having been presumed dead), what he does, had me sayin’: “Holy shit! Whoa!!” The interplay between the two Kirk’s was great. Again, I could see this playing on the screen! 

This isn’t your granddaddy’s Trek; this isn’t my Trek… This is ‘NuTrek!’ And, Johnson knows this ship (and crew) like the back of his hand!

How many of you just imagined Scotty, bonkin’-himself unconscious on a bulkhead? ;) 

 
This sojourn into the ‘Mirror Universe’ far-surpassed Johnson’s previous two-issue story – (back in Issues 15 & 16 – Nov2012/Jan2013); and that was a kickass story, too! That said, I’m still having difficulty reconciling those events, with everything that is happening now. The only common-denominator between the two is…none! Zero! I’ve still not heard from Mike Johnson, (to clarify); as to whether or not, this is a continuation of that prior story, or – if they are standalone-stories, with no bearing on one-another. Personally – (until I hear otherwise), I’m going to view them with the latter mindset. 

LIVE^EVIL is a helluva-good adventure. The ‘Mirror Universe’ is essentially a ‘crossover’ within the series itself, so you have to make it believable from the get-go, as to why you needed to go there, to begin with. Johnson does that; the reasoning is plausible, we jump right into the action (which brought a lot of excited Holy F@#k! reaction, from me), and the end had me on the edge of my seat. And – that was just Part 1!

The whole-series is like that! 

Plus, the cracks left in the mirror (as a result of these events), make it only a matter of time before we see another parallel-universe crossover. 

 
Is is just me, or does Shasteen/Mastrolonardo’s ‘Mirror’ Spock look equally badass, as the ‘classic’ goateed, green-blooded, pointy-eared hobgoblin in the TOS episode? (RIP Mr. Nimoy…) If Tony Shasteen and Davide Mastrolonardo think it’s hard bringing their very best to their art; well, imagine how hard it is to find adjectives to praise their exemplary achievements, time, and – time, again. Their work here is exceptional! And, for gods’ sakes, man – don’t ever take me to ‘Mirror’ McCoy’s sickbay! Just set the phaser to kill. 

Each of our crews’ doppelgängers had unique differences and distinguishing characteristics, but it was with ‘The Triad’ – evil Kirk, Spock and Bones, that Shasteen and Mastrolonardo impressed me the most; especially Bones! Beautiful! (Well…not really.) Check it out, for yourself. 

 

Overall: The folks over at IDW clearly know what the hell they’re doing. Johnson and Gaydos have a solid grasp on the Star Trek helm and their course keeps keeps doing what Trek has done for 50 years: ‘boldly going, where no man has gone before…’ 

The art-department is to be commended with the highest honors, as well. It’s visibly apparent that Tony Shasteen, Davide Mastrolonardo love what they do; and they compliment one-another brilliantly, within these pages. Good action, suspense and character-play; stellar art and production… This is #GreatStarTrek!

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone 

Batman ’66: Main Title

 

With all of this Star Wars madness filling our days and nights, and – our social media pages, ad nauseum; and – Trek fans feeling decidedly – er…’doomed,’ after the release of the heavily-disfavored Star Trek: Beyond trailer (re- igniting the wrath of Khan-lovers the world-over), I needed a distraction. I was delighted, then, to finally get a copy of Batman ’66, Volume 4 – (above). I’d been anxious to read it for months, and, believe me, it is just as brilliant as I imagined it would be. Plus, it has some extra-magic, that I was not expecting: Harlan Ellison‘s entire, ‘unaired’ one-shot, ‘The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face,’ as adapted by Len Wein; including the Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez sketchbook and all of the other added-bonus materials. (Note: This ‘special’ volume is $24.99; Comixology’s digital-download is $16.99). 

I love these hardbound-volumes that DC is putting out for this series. I mean, those ‘ALL RED’ covers are fantastic; really showcasing the series’s unique flavor, tropes and colorful characters – right down to Cesar Romero‘s mustache.

In addition, each volume includes the variant covers for each issue represented, (as well as other goodies). As for the interior-art, the pages ‘POP’ with color; spectacular panels, capturing the look, feel and vibe of the show with stunning detail and zeal.

With more-and-more licensing agreements being reached, the comic book (as a whole) has evolved; the artists have been able to use most of the actors’ likenesses, giving the comic book a greater-depth of realism. Hence, Mike Allred using Adam West and Burt Ward‘s likenesses on his tribute ‘toy’cover for this issue – (below).

But, the real stars of this comic book relaunch are the writers, who have lovingly created some newly-inspired, very entertaining, innovative stories, bringing out my inner-child with every William Dozier inset. They have all brought out the best from the shows; even making-light of some of the series’s warts. The entire DC Comics team is to be commended, having done yeoman work in keeping me enthralled. Yes, sir, I highly-recommend them to everyone!

Guess, you could say, I was pretty torqued about picking up this latest one, and diggin’-in to it…

 

…because, a mere day, earlier, Dan Greenfield – having posted his Mike Allred interview on my Batman Past, Present, Future page – difinitively comfirmed the rumors and, snippets of news, I’d been hearing about (and, denying), for months: my beloved Batman ’66 comic book series ended with issue #73. Yes, citizens, like the revered (or – loathed, I’m afraid to say) TV show which inspired it, this brilliant comic book reboot has run its course, after an all-too-brief 2 yrs and 4 mos; running from July 3, 2013 to Nov. 11, 2015. FYI: That’s 2-month’s longer than the original show. The TV series debuted on Jan. 12, 1966 and went of the air March 14, 1968; running 2 yrs and 2 mos.

With that in mind, let me take a couple of minutes and give you my impressions on issue #73.

 

Batman ’66: ‘Main Title’ (Part 2)

Published by: DC Comics; written by: Lee Allred; art, colors and cover by: Michael & Laura Allred; lettered by: Wes Abbott; edited by: Jim Chadwick & David Pińa; release date: Nov. 11, 2015.

 

Lieutenant’s Log: Gotham City is playing host to ‘The Crook Convention’… If ever we needed Batman and Robin, it’s now! 
 

My Take: If you’re under the impression that this series blew in like a lion and went out like a lamb – as the TV show did – you’re sorely mistaken! Holy Battle Royale, Batman! Chapter Seventy-Two is the jewel in the crown! This is one of the best Batman ’66 comics of them all – if not, THE best! I don’t want to give too much away, but the two images above, (and – including), the Batmobile, should give you detectives out there a few clues, as to what you’re in-store for. Admittedly, it took me a second to get what was up, but – after that, I was grinning from ear-to-ear! Riddle me this: What has its  beginnings, at its end? You’ll find the answers, and – more, in Batman ’66: ‘Main Title.’ (Part 2)

For me, personally, issue #73 may’ve just snuck it’s way in, to being my choice, for ‘Best Comic Book of the Year.’ If YOU love Batman ’66, (or, Batman),  you will totally get this; you’ll be BIF-BAM-ZOK‘d by its originality; awed by the crisp, on-point, balls-out, vividly brought-to-life art; and you’ll cheering your heroes on, again, like you’re a snot-nosed brat, needin’ a serious diaper change! 

This issue by the ‘Triumphant Triad’ of Lee, Michael and Laura Allred is purrrrfectly apropos, giving clever backstory to an aspect of [both] the show, and – the comics, that is just as iconic, as the series, itself. The Allred’s pay homage to everything that makes Batman such an enduring classic in pop-culture, today. 

 

And, let us have a moment of silence for the lovely Miss Yvonne Craig; THE quintessential Batgirl…

She shines!

I’ll tell ya what, the only-thing missing from issue issue #73 is a sound chip, with nothing-but ‘Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na… BATMAN!’

Yo! What’s the cap, on stars, that I’m allowed to give this thing..?? 

 

With that said, I’m going to miss this series. To me, it was just hitting its stride. Bringing in the likes of Poison Ivy, Bane and Lord Death Eater, was a stroke of brilliance; playing out some imaginative scenarios, while remaining true to the series. And, that’s not saying that Batman ’66 didn’t have a few zingers; but, overall, Batman ’66 surpassed my greatest hopes.

Of course, this isn’t the end, per se, for our cowled crime fighter and his dedicated, youthful ward; because we’ll be getting specials, such as the critically-acclaimed Kevin Smith crossover, ‘Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet‘ or, the ongoing ‘Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.‘ 

But, still… Batman ’66 – like the show – was something special. 

‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’ 

Lt. Eric Cone