Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Mast Blogs: Movin' on D.E. side.

Was I forgotten or missed? I'll assume so.

As you may have guessed, Welcome to the Mast has come to a halt. However, if you enjoyed the time we spent together on this place, then you can check out the further exploits of The Mast over on ANOTHER SITE!

Go to the new Direct Edition website!

I am the primary webmaster and operator of that site. You can find blog posts, interviews and episodes of Direct Edition ALL on that site. It will eventually be a site, but we haven't got that far yet. The banner is temporary, so get off my ass if you're gonna diss it.

Anyway, pass the link around and favourite it, bookmark it and hopefully, if you like it, support it!

I don't want to say Welcome to the Mast is dead, it's just comatose. So, for now, thank you ALL...SO much, for everything you've done or said. Thank you to all the writers who contributed interviews to this place, it was an honour.

See you around!

Until then, peace.

-The Mast

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Mast Blogs/Reviews: Humanising Krypton's Last Son, Marvel Movie Madness & Thursday's Comics (28/10/2010).

Greetings and salutations. I am Associate Mast.

This is the first post in a while that's going to contain NEWS besides reviews. Aren't you just overly thrilled? All 10 of you?

First on the cards today, I would like to draw your attention to something that looks quite intriguing to me.

This is the first original graphic novel in the series called D.C: Earth One. It's D.C.'s equivilant to Marvel's Ultimate universe, really. I think it's a great idea, even if I don't read much from either companies alternative universes. It allows great writers to take on characters free of continuity, and I think that's good.

So, this graphic novel is intended to reintroduce Superman to a current generation. Some people don't like the idea, some do. J. Michael Straczynski is writing it, so I don't have any reason to feel like it'll suck. I just sincerely hope that they don't give him the sweepy bangs and make him a scene kid. I really, really fucking hope that's not the case.

The cover is fucking madness. I love it. I just hope he's not gonna be this brooding, dark loner. It's been done.

I guess the intent is to humanise Superman, and this is where the debate comes in. I don't buy Superman when he's humanised. He is what he is, you know? He's a god-like super alien. I understand that love and emotions affect us all, I'm not asking the dude to be a robot. However, when he's upset about Lois Lane, that's ALL he really has to worry about. It's not like he has to worry about staying alive when he stops any of his villains. If Spider-Man gets distracted, he could get killed. I just think that for all Superman has going for him, he should be able to suck it up.

I like him when he is what he is meant to be. Case in point: The Death of Superman. He was the last line of defense and he was the ultimate hero, doing what no other being could. That's what he needs to be. He's TOO good. That's the thing. I just...I don't know where the balance would be, or if there is one when writing Superman, though. Still, if you're curious about Superman's mythos and don't wanna dive into the existing, mainstream continuity, go for Superman: Earth One. If you get it before me, let me know how it is!

Iron Man 3 has been given the release date of May 13th, 2013. Iron Man will be the first one, it seems, to get a post-The Avengers movie, movie. I can't say I'm surprised, I'm actually quite pleased! With all this interlocking continuity, you're never really short of stories.

Secondly, we have this:

That is the first official press picture of Captain America. I didn't expect spandex, but why couldn't they have figured the red stripes in? I mean, the dude has a the white, the blue and the star. Why not give him the red stripes? I guess they figured they'd mix the practical with the actual and give him some red braces (Suspenders as they're known Stateside). I don't have any issues with it, but I am curious as to how they'll depict him being so agile in what appears to be a sort of armoured costume.

Also, would it have KILLED you to dye the dude's hair? They can create an Iron Man suit from a suitcase, seamlessly bonding itself to Robert Downey Jr., but they can't make Steve blonde?

I guess the other issue I have is one that will come in time. Cap is young in this movie, and sure, he gets frozen in ice (I guess. That's what happened in comics) with the serum preserving his body. I've just always seen Steve as an older, mature man. He looks too young. Chris Hemsworth looks kinda young as Thor, but he pulls it off.

I know they're giving him a helmet and it has painted wing details, so I guess I'll wait and see. This IS meant to be his revised World War 2 outfit, so I'm guessing he'll get an updated one for The Avengers. My concern is how he acts, like Hemsworth as Thor. I soon as I saw Hemsworth as Thor, I immediately said, "Yep." I don't get that vibe from Evans.

Anyway, COMICS!

Thursday's Comics.

Secret Avengers #6.

This book was losing direction and I'm glad they found it again with this issue. There are pros and cons, as always.

Deodato's art is always fantastic. One thing I've noticed is that he always works so well with dimly lit rooms. There's a scene where Captain Rogers and Sharon Carter on a bed, half naked, and it looks so good. The way the light floats over them and such is really good.

The story's confusing in intention. Things started off with a very clear, exciting, espionage-based purpose. Then they went to space, then there as all this shit with Nick Fury's clone brother and I was sitting here wondering what the fuck was going on. Now, Brubaker has just decided there needs to be a new story that has enough connection to the one they started in the beginning, all so that it doesn't look crowbarred. That's what I feel.

Luckily, it is a good story. The story revolves around The Shadow Empire trying to require The Eyes of the Serpent. They do this using Shang-Chi's thought-dead father's clan of ninja. Thus, boom. Shang-Chi teams up with Rogers and Co. to get to the bottom of things and steal the gems before The Shadow Empire can.

The part where they infiltrate the museum, the part before it where they're planning the infiltration, it's all SO very well done. It reminds me of the first issue. The actual infiltration scenes are cut with Steve telling Shang how they're gonna do it. It's like a really cool spy movie.

Shang Chi's old man is back and up to no good, but we'll see where this all leads. I'm not entirely sold.

The Avengers #6.

THIS, however, is a gsme-changer.

Bendis pulls out all the stops on this issue. He packs this issue full of little easter eggs of information that could be important in the future and...yes, it works. All the threads of the time/space plot start to come together as The Avengers finally confront the future Ultron and speak to him of what's gone wrong, Kang's part in it and what needs to be done to change it.

The dialogue is plentiful and it's GREAT. Bendis, known for heavy dialogue, hadn't been using as much recently. This issue packs it in.

John Romita Jr.'s art is, sadly, immensely divisive. People either love or hate it. In this issue, one epic scene in particular, he NAILS it. At other times, it's completely distracting and messy. He never seems to do shading, leaving characters looking blocky and flat, on top of the already washed colours.

Maestro Hulk's dialogue with the future children of The Avengers is MADDENINGLY exciting, especially what he says about Bucky Barnes, considering Bucky is on trial right now. There's lots of things the future folk seem to know that's gonna have a huge impact in the present's future stories. The end of the issue is really epic and it really was an, "OHHH! I SEE!" moment.

I definitely think that this is a trade series right now. It's definitely gonna work better in trade for the first six issues. Next, Red Hulk joins the team! comment. We'll see.


That's about all I've got for today. Not much came out worth reviewing besides those two!

Thanks for reading, thanks for taking the time to indulge my blog. I appreciate it.

Until next time, peace.

-The Mast

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Mast Reviews: Thursday's Comics (21/10/2010).

I'm just grab a Dr. Pepper from the cooler.

Welcome back to this blog place, and let me hit you with some knowledge, LaFleur.

Thursday's Comics has been moved to Friday! It will still be called Thursday's Comics, as that's what they are. The move, however, gives me an entire day to processes the comics, read them through and form my opinions on them. I don't feel as crammed.

This may mean shorter reviews, but more succinct ones. Unless, of course, I desire to talk in depth.

Thursday's Comics.

Daredevil #511.

By now, you all know how I feel about Daredevil's current stories, so I won't tread the waters of familiarity. If my guest post isn't approved for Weekly Crisis, I'll post it here, as said.

Another month and another issue of DAREDEVIL'S on-going series, tying into DAREDEVIL'S first major crossover, Shadowland. This would be great in any other situation. Why isn't it? Well...because, ladies and gentlemen, like the window of the Texas School Book Depository, the guy who is supposed to be there, isn't.

Shadowland was meant to be the ultimate fall from grace for our hero, and it was to culminate, dramatically, with his first ever Marvel death (Now we know). A total balls-up and this issue does nothing to change that.

The issue tells the tale of how Hell's Kitchen is going to shit and how people are "handling" it. Seriously. That's it. Daredevil isn't in it until the last few pages, and those pages would've been ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING had this entire arc not been fucked more than Annabel Chong. It ends with Foggy Nelson CLIMBING INTO SHADOWLAND (Yes, Foggy Nelson. Daredevil's erstwhile best friend and chubby law firm partner) to talk him out of his dark stupor, hopefully. Daredevil basically stops White Tiger from executing him, only to dramatically proclaim that this "whiney maggot" will be killed by him.

What? We're meant to be shocked by that? Matt's being controlled. You've fucked it.

The art is, as always, breathtaking. De la Torre's artwork combined with Diggle's earlier runs? Mmm! Now? It's just...depressing.

I was hoping this could be something, overall, that I'd cite as one of the best watermarks and most important eras in Daredevil's soon to be 512 issue history...but it's not. I'm almost relieved they're ending it at the next issue, really. OH! Not to fear! In January, Black Panther: The Man without Fear #...513 comes out! YES! Oh man.

Moving on, before gaskets are blown.

Carnage #1 of 5.

After the Carnage symbiote was ripped apart by The Sentry in The New Avengers #2 Vol. 1, it was a matter of time before they brought him back. In fairness, it's been over half a decade. That's...a hefty amount of time for someone that has been historically well-liked.

I don't mind Carnage. I've always thought that he was unnecessary, or that he would've been if they'd just kept Venom as a full-on villain. Still, Zeb Wells is a good enough writer and Clayton Crain is a great artist. What the Hell, right? Give it a whirl.

What a terrific, edgy start! Spider-Man's doppleganger...Doppleganger, is chasing after this van and Iron Man gives chase. The issue revolves around him and Spidey tracking it down, grinding it to a halt and stopping Doppleganger. Two rather inexperienced new characters, like BRAND new, show up; Royal Blue and Firebrick (I can't decide if those are boring or good). They cause some irresponsible, but well-intentioned ruckus etc and things are settled down.

It's revealed that the Carnage symbiote has been returned to Earth under heavy security and containment, hence Doppleganger chasing it. In the van (To my memory it was the van), we see Shriek who is viewing the contained symbiote with some fear.

It's all left very murky, but lets you want way more. This could be a very nice, exciting arc in the same vein as the brilliant Maximum Carnage story (READ IT, CHRIST!). It has all the same, or similar, players and a great duo heading it up. Wells gets the characters, he writes them well and Clayton Crain's art serves up a gritty sense of violence to it all, of which Wells has promised more of.

Unfortunatly, it's once-a-month! Darn!

Cletus Kasady doesn't appear, and that's a testament to build-up. They're probably gonna make us wait to see the symbiote and its most famous wearer re-united.

This is one to keep an eye on, folks.

A quick piece of funny irony, though! I thought the cover was odd. Why would Carnage not be on the cover if it's HIS series? I thought the Carnage variants were more fitting. The comedy is, he isn't in it yet! Carnage being on the cover would've been misleading. Just goes to show, never judge a comic by its variants!

Haunt #10.

Shit's getting GOOD.

After being captured, we see Daniel Kilgore getting a BRUTAL, BRUTAL beating. There's a close-up of his face during this scene, with Mr. Hurg talking shit, and it's BRILLIANT. It's so disturbingly violent. The way his eyes and cheeks are swollen, ugh. Such nice artwork.

For some unknown reason, Kurt separated from his brother, effectively disabling Haunt and allowing them to get caught. Regardless, they soon re-bond and escape, tackling Hurg out of the building and plummeting to the ground below. It's such a well-paced issue. Almost Kirby-esque during his run on Daredevil. Quick, but not rushed.

Haunt calls in the reinforcements and The Agency takes both him AND Hurg back to H.Q. Fear not, though, the story hasn't blown its wad that early. Hurg cockily taunts his interrogators and before you know it, these hulking great beasts burst through the wall. Mutated soldiers, it seems.

The big reveal being that this is what they wanted Shillinger's notes for. Now you've got an army of mega-dangerous brutes about to bust this guy out of jail, and Haunt isn't exactly in the greatest shape.

Kirkman really does know how to do a lot with a little, I'll tell you that much. He really has all his genre bases covered. Between this, Invincible and The Walking Dead, he's just above covering everything a comic fan could want, and covering it brilliantly.

Haunt is definitely going to go unnoticed by many, I think, so DO NOT sleep on this series.


That's about all for today. The Loki mini-series kicked off this week, too. Another brilliant issue that I think you should get. I may update this with a review of that, provided Comic Vine get off their asses and upload the artwork!

Thanks for reading, people. I very much appreciate it.

Until next time, peace.

-The Mast

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Mast Reviews/Blogs: Thursday's Comics (14/10/2010) & A Change in Thursday's Comics.

Greetings, humans.

I am back, after having left, like a boomerang or non-lethal shuriken.

Once again, I totally forgot to get a comic this week. That's what happens when everything you buy isn't on your subscription list.

Sadly, I've decided to drop Thor. I really didn't like either the art or the writing. I don't know what happened since Fraction last wrote Thor (Loved that), but it's just not working for me. I grabbed Chaos War #1, so you can possibly expect an updated edition of LAST week's Thursday's Comics. S.H.I.E.L.D. will definitely have to be left as a retrospective, I think. It's just too densely packed and the once-every-two-months schedule really isn't helping.

Aside from that, I forgot to get Superman #703. I don't even review that series, though, so it's not a big deal.

Thursday's Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man #31.

Firstly, that is NOT the main cover. It is the vampire variant that Marvel has a thing for lately. It's just the only one they had on Comic Vine.

I figured that this series had to debut on Thursday's Comics sooner or later, but I wasn't sure if I'd end up dropping the title or not. For a while I was seriously considering it, but it seems to be gaining steam once more.

To sum up the current storyline...

Stark got ousted by Norman Osborn during Dark Reign. He erased all the info he had on his superhero buddies, leaving only his mind as the last place to contain the information. Slowly but surely, this too began being erased. Stark, over time, regressed to the point that he could only operate earlier, simpler versions of Iron Man armour (He only had one, anyway). On the run from H.A.M.M.E.R., he was joined by Maria Hill. The tension eventually won out and they ended up in a weird sexual relationship/pseudo-relationship.

Stark eventually fell into a coma for the duration of Siege, appearing at the end and thus, leading to this. He has no memory of whatever happened before he was brought out of the coma, and has set about making amends. He has no company anymore and, until not long ago, no money either. Thor, having patched things up, chose to let Stark have his fill of Asgardian gold. Using this, Stark formed Stark Resilient, a company with the intent to supply clean energy to the world so that all the energy and fuelling problems will be solved.

His first step is to build a car based on repulsor technology. This is proven to be not so simple. Why? Because the late Justin Hammer's wife and daughter have proven to be back in business and intent on humiliating/destroying Stark's new efforts. Having created an armoured behemoth themselves (Detroit Steel), they use the gamers of the world to aid Steel in his missions. Through the diabolically clever guise of iPhone apps, people play as bomb squadrons and attack places set by the "game". Little do they know that they are actually doing this. Then there's the small matter that Sasha Hammer, Justin's sexually aggressive daughter, has been augmented by Ezekiel Stane (Marvel Database, kids. I can't be bothered to go into it, haha).

Welcome to now. Stark previously tried to test out his car and found out it had been sabotaged by Spymaster, at the request of the Hammer ladies. He survived, and that's where issue #31 begins.

I very much got tired of the chasm between styles of writing Iron Man. As I've mentioned before, Fraction tends to write him in a very contemplative and condensed manner. There hasn't been much out-and-out action in a while. He's a great storyteller and the Stark: Disassembled arc was amazing, but it felt odd. Especially when you consider that Bendis had been writing him as this wise-cracking, sarcastic super-douche. I like consistency wherever possible.

This is a steam-building issue, really. Fraction does very well to put across the impression of Stark as a man trying to re-define his place in the world and being continually met with roadblocks. I suppose the Hammers mirror who he used to be, aside from the bad guy part. I don't know if he realises that or if that's very much reader acknowledgement, but either way, it's a nice dynamic. It's also more interesting that they're chicks. I don't know why, but it's not unreasonable. I mean, in a world where women can pretty much do everything a man can, business wise, why is arms dealing not one of them?

The culmination of this issue is Stark rushing to get another car built so as to demonstrate it before they can attack again. It all comes to light when, at the demo, one of Stark's organisers is playing a Detroit Steel "game" and quickly realises that the game map is identical to the place they are testing the car. It's a real sort of nail-biter that feels like it could've been a scene from The Bourne Identity. That's exactly what this comic feels like, actually. It feels like a Paul Greengrass movie, in a good way.

I think there's a lot to praise and criticise about Salvador LaRocca's art. One one hand it's very nice to look at, but on the other it tends to be a little too...milky. That's the best way I can describe it, I think. It's the way he draws light and/or light reflections sometimes, it looks too pale. Oh well.

If this storyline pays off, I can easily recommend the series to you as an ends justifying means sort of thing. If it doesn't, the previous four or five issues will have felt like they're for nothing, and I'm not sure I'll be happy with where the story is heading.

Let's wait and see!

The Thanos Imperative #5 of 6.

The penultimate issue of Abnett and Lanning's cosmic blow-out has arrived, and it is very, very good.

At this point, the story has been gestating and it's time to make shit happen. All parties involved are making their final push and they're all pushing in opposite directions. The impossibly large Galactus Engine is proving a challenge, even for Galactus and the other universal abstracts, and things get no better when Queen Medusa of The Kree Empire receives word that even LARGER threats await behind it.

The whole issue is just paced so well. It focuses on one area, packs it full of suspenseful excitement and then pulls away, then as you're thinking, "NO!"...the comic pulls you into another area of tense developments. The art is just classic. It feels like Surfer circa Vol. 2.

The Revengers battle with the Guardians in The Fault soon ends when their version of Scarlet Witch turns on them. She transports all of our heroes, plus Thanos, to the site of The Necropsy. The place where the ritual that caused ALL this anti-death was performed. Lord Mar-Vell quickly shows up and things get out of hand. Again, everyone wants what they need, they need what they want, and you just wonder who's gonna fall or crumble first.

Nova leaving the frontline, even at Gladiator's behest, was quite pivotal. He wants to go help Starlord and they need him there etc. It's all very dramatic.

The big shocker is that Thanos, mid-fight, totally gives up and refers to Lord Mar-Vell as is undying lord, begging him to give him death. He hates being alive and separated from his love, so he longs for it. The last page is just dynamite dialogue from Abnett. Starlord says, to some degree, "Is it me, or did Thanos just royally screw us over...big time?", and Rocket Raccoon (WHO I LOVE) replies, " have NO idea."

There couldn't be a bigger cliffhanger for the final issue. That's how you lead in. I'm not sitting here feeling like things haven't developed enough as I did in Realm of Kings. I genuinely feel like everything is perfectly poised and it can't get any better. It feels like every question has been answered except the ones they HAVE to answer in #6.

Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely. I do think you'd need to pick the whole cosmic saga up in trade form, though. I honestly think that from Annihilation through to The Thanos Imperative, Marvel's cosmic players have been in the most consistently excellent stories since Daredevil's series took a nose-dive.

For those curious, that's as follows:

Annihilation: Conquest
War of Kings
Realm of Kings
The Thanos Imperative

The New Avengers #5.

Speaking of everything building to a point, this is an example of that.

What's very odd is that Bendis almost immediately trashes the prior cliffhanger. You know, the one about how Iron Fist returned from his spiritual experience with the belief that Dr. Strange stole the eye and wanted an explanation? Yeah. Bendis has Dr. Strange basically say, "I didn't do any of that." and Iron Fist apologises. I felt like I was short-changed there. I was particularly thrilled at the idea of the straight-shooting Dr. Strange having a bit of a darker, more nefarious past than we know of.

I was kind of getting tired of the whole, "Let's stand around and try to figure out how or why this is happening, but not really get anywhere." thing. I was fairly pissed that they chose to continue that...until they showed where they were going.

For some reason, Agamotto himself is implied to want the eye back. Agamotto being a being of power beyond human comprehension or contemplation as one of the three omnipotent Vishanti. The current Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Voodoo, shows up and decides to challenge Agamotto. Daimon Hellstrom (Who I do really like in this), laughs it off and offers the suggestion of diving under a bus, as they'd both achieve the same result.

I think Bendis borrowed from Joss Whedon here, because the next part reminds me of that Buffy episode where they all give her their essense so she can defeat Adam. Dr. Voodoo suggests, in no uncertain terms, "Hey, guys. Give me your shit and I'll go put the smackdown."

Out of nowhere, which really did bother me, Wolverine appears like the fucking poster child he is, and does the whole, tried and played-out, "I'm the killer here, bub. Let me at 'im." routine. So bored of it. Seriously. They all agree, shockingly, and then Wolverine ends up with all their essenses, ready to go to war. He does look bad-ass with the mystic markings, but that's because Stuart Immonen's art is destroying everything, in a good way.

I am very excited to see where this goes, but crowbarring Wolverine into a mystic scenario just seems wrong. It should be Dr. Strange or Dr. Voodoo...someone magical, not Marvel's poster boy. The emphasis should be on the fact that there are some things that violence won't achieve.

Some of the Spider-Man dialogue is just brilliant, though. Bendis really does capture his character, I feel. When he asks if the procedure of essense-taking has been done, this particular spell anyway, Dr. Voodoo says that it hasn't. Spider-Man says, "Ooooh, GOOOOOOD!" It just oozes sarcasm. It reminds me of when Christian Bale said it in his infamous Bale-out.

It's five issues in, so...the first trade shouldn't be too far away. Pick it up if you are majorly curious. I think it may read better as trades.

Shadowland #4 of 5.

I just want to say that Elektra brutally wiping out ninja of The Hand will never get old to me. It's honestly just beautiful. She does that in this.

You should all know my opinion of Daredevil's current quality by now. If you don't, you can check out my guest post on Weekly Crisis (If it ever makes it up). If it doesn't get posted, I'll post it.

Either way, this issue does nothing to dissuade my opinion and I don't have much to say. The art is good, same as always, but I can't help thinking that it all just looks a tad silly. I didn't mind before, but as I re-read the Bendis/Mack, Bendis/Maleev, Diggle/De la Torre really does come off as overly colourful and a bit blocky. In comparison, I mean. Daredevil was such a neo-noir, hard-boiled, darker comic and it just feels odd to me now. It's odd that Daredevil's first big crossover, the one that was meant to be his darkest story...has the lightest feel.

We pretty much get more of the street-level heroes wondering how or what it'll take to stop Daredevil. There's some interesting pages (Two to be precise, I think) of Lady Bullseye and The Kingpin discussing the events. Lady Bullseye wants to fight, but The Kingpin assures her that the time will come, as power is shifting back to him. They take off in a chopper and, as L.B. tells him the fires are spreading, he ominously says to let them burn, he no longer needs them.

Do they develop that? Nah. Will they? Hopefully.

It ends in a big fight with Matt being pinned down. Elektra tries talking sense into him and he explodes in dire and typical fashion with the cringe-worthy line, "Matt Murdock is no more. There is only...THE BEAST!"

I'm serious. Elongated horns and everything. I think they may have even given him sharp teeth. It's all just pants, to be firm and honest. It's all just gone into the shitter. I know the guys over at Speak of the Devil (An excellent podcast which Johnny M has said I can guest on at some point) are really liking it, but I wonder what they make of this issue.

Daredevil #511 is out next week, I guess we'll see what happens.

I just...this isn't good, man. It's honestly not cool. This really is a case of something not being broken, but a repair job being thought necessary anyway. There's also a lot made of Daredevil's attempt to resurrect Bullseye, it's even on the (Supremely bland) cover. Is it part of this issue? Not that I can see.

Diggle, I loved your run on Daredevil, pre-Shadowland. I loved Shadowland #1. What the fuck has happened?

My issue is simple. I try to never be THAT guy. I try not to be the guy who says Marvel should run shit this way, or do things that way. What do I know about running a business? However, I've loved Daredevil since I was six years old and I own more or less, barring a few issues, all of his #510/#511 issue run. As it stands, I am starting to not give a shit about what's going on because I feel like I've been short-changed.

Now, I still do not wanna be that guy, and I hate to end Thursday's Comics on a bad note, but here's my summation; when you can turn a fan like me away from a character he has adored and loved for most of his life, is it not time to put your hands on your heart and consider that you might have fucked up?


That's all for now, but thanks for reading, as always. I'm considering moving Thursday's Comics to Friday (Same title, since they come out on Thursdays here). The reason for this is two fold.

The first is rather simple. I sometimes buy anywhere from three to eight comics every Thursday. I don't review 'em all, but I usually review at least two. In small number it's not bad, but any more and I encounter an issue. I feel as though cramming stories in, writing what I think and trying to do this all in the free time I get on Thursday just doesn't do anything, or ANYONE, justice.

I feel like I could give myself a day to read the comics, digest the stories. Re-read them and properly establish my opinion. I think that is a key element in what used to, and sometimes still does, make my reviews a little more synopsis-based and a little less review-based. I can only really tell you what happens because I generally haven't formulated an iron clad opinion yet. Not always, mind you. Sometimes I really can just churn it out well, but even when I do, I feel rushed.

I guess, in starting this blog I wanted to be known as punctual and on-time, resultantly giving myself set days to post things and very rarely straying outside of those. Sometimes I'll get home, read comics, do my day-to-day errands and then, bam! Next thing I know, it's 8-9pm and I'm tired, yet I have a blog post to do.

I really am trying to think of ways to fill the gaps between each Thursday. I'm seriously lacking in retro reviews and things like that, but I simply haven't had the time and I am coming up short on ideas. Well, I have lots of shit in the pipeline, don't get me wrong. I plan to do retrospectives on Blackest Night and the two preceding stories (Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Sinestro Corps War), Scalped, Invincible, Captain America and The Walking Dead. However, it's gonna take a lot of time and money to catch up on those trades (Not so much the very former, but the rest), so you probably won't get them soon.

The second reason is superficial. I get all my cover art from Comic Vine, an excellent all-round comic website. Sometimes they just don't have the new artwork uploaded in time, and I really can't bring myself to post without it.

I do recommend you check the site out, though. The reviews and videos are good, even if I do have a lot of disagreements with the opinions of both G-Man and Sara "Babs" Lima, their love of the medium does come across more often than not. Speaking of which, the ever-busy Ms. Lima (Not Adriana, though Sara is also Brazilian-born) said she would enjoy doing an interview for Welcome to the Mast sometime. Don't hold your breath, though. I can't always find time to update THIS blog, but she is editor of Comic Vine, so you can imagine the workload.

This turned into a bit of a review/blog today, whaddya know?

Take care of yourselves. I DID have something planned for Saturday, but I'm going to see Killing Joke live and I doubt I'll be in any condition to type after. If not, never fear! I will see you next week!

Until next time, peace.

-The Mast

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Mast Meets: Dan Abnett.

Back like a spinal column.

Today, as promised, I will be posting an interview I was rather excited to get! None other than Mr. Dan Abnett has graced the pages of my blog! I'd like to give a big thank you to him for doing this.

The Mast Meets: Dan Abnett.

The Mast: First of all, thanks for coming onto my blog. It's a pleasure to have you on here. I suppose, right out of the blocks I'd like to ask you where this all began for you? Being a fan, I suppose I've read the story to some extent, but for those who aren't familiar with you, how did the love of the medium and the writing of comics start for you?

Dan Abnett: My favourite pass times when I was a kid were reading, writing stories and drawing pictures, the latter two I soon combined into writing and drawing my own comics. After studying English at university, I ended up working at Marvel Comics in London, on the editorial side, but freelancing as a writer, which is where I learned the ropes (Working on junior titles like Ghostbusters, Thundercats and Care Bears). Ultimately I went freelance full time.

The Mast: One thing I've noticed about your writing style, however intentional or unintentional it may be, is that you seem to balance such expansive dialogue in which action. It feels like everything is happening, but not in a bad way. Is this a style you, or Lanning (Forgive me, I never know who writes what and I'd hate to miscredit anyone), just naturally birth, or does your style come from being inspired by any other writers?

Dan Abnett: The dialogue is usually me. It's just my natural inclination to write that way, though I'm sure there are vast subliminal influences from all sorts of writers whose work I've enjoyed.

The Mast: I've written some knock-about fan-fic scripts involving Marvel characters and what not. Obviously, when flying solo you can literally just throw any idea you want onto a page, so it could seem as if you have unlimited freedom. At face value, collaborative writing may seem restrictive to many.

In recent years, though, it seems some of the best penned-work has come from collaborative writing. Yourself and Lanning, Diggle and Johnston, Pak and Van Lente; what is it about the creative/collaborative process between you and Lanning specifically that works so well, and how do you usually go about handling a story?

Dan Abnett: Andy and I have worked together for two decades, mainly because we enjoy the fun of the process. We both work separately (Me with the novels and 2000 A.D., Andy as an inker). Getting together once a week or so and having fun whilst sharing a love of comics (We like similar things) means we can both stave off the classic freelancer blight of cabin fever. We also riff on each others ideas all the time and that takes the story to places neither of us would have got to alone.

The Mast: This could be considered a lead-off for the prior question, but I've always been curious. How much of the writing is you and how much is Lanning? I have such a habit of just referring to your name first, which is quite bad really! Props to you both, either way.

Dan Abnett: We plan and plot together in the same room, then the finished scripts get "processed" by me. I guess you could say Andy's focus is plot and concept, and mine are character and dialogue, though it's nothing like as clean cut as that. I basically script stuff we've worked up together while he's doing his other job as an inker. Except for the times we do it the other way round for fun ;).

The Mast: Being that you have made a great name for yourself on Marvel's cosmic scene, was that more organic for you than writing a character that has stricter mythos and continuity? By that I mean Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Kree/Shi'ar Empires; these entities don't have the strict continuity of a Daredevil, Spider-Man, Superman or a Batman. Does writing for characters that are perceived as low-priority mean that you can have greater room to move, or due to some of their cult statuses, is it more restricting?

Dan Abnett: To an extent, yes, and also because they were freed from the mainstream continuity of the Marvel Earth, but they come with great (powers and) responsibilities of their own. You've got to keep the galaxy's continuity straight.

The Mast: Of all the things you've written so far, what would you say is your proudest achievement as a writer? What piece, throughout your career, really made you sit back and smile at what you'd done?

Dan Abnett: Personally, several of my novels and my work on Sinister Dexter for 2000 A.D. As a team with Andy, Guardians of the Galaxy and Legion of Superheroes.

The Mast: Regarding what you're up to now, The Thanos Imperative is pretty enormous. Many are, sadly, seeing it as or assuming it to be the last hurrah for Marvel's cosmic resurgence. We've had Annihilation: Conquest, the Nova/Guardians on-goings, War of Kings, Realm of Kings and now The Thanos Imperative. When you took over the cosmic stuff, did you have this all planned out, what exactly was your goal and is this the last installment of your wide-spanning cosmic epic, or do you plan to remain on the cosmic scene for more time to come?

Dan Abnett: We had big plans, but we shifted and adjusted as they grew (Expended following successes, re-trenched when things were less popular etc). There was no set timetable, however. We're delighted to have had the opportunity to play everything out to a proper end - quite often, you don't get that chance. The Thanos Imperative is the big FULL STOP to our cosmic cycle in terms of satisfying closure and reaching the place we were kind of aiming for...however, inevitably, there is more to come; Rocket and Groot, and...well, I can't say ;)

The Mast: Rumours, which I'm sure you are obliged to not address (Understandably), are running wild that you may be penning a new Silver Surfer on-going. Is there any truth to this? Also, I really, really loved what you did with Gabe Summers in War of Kings. Arguably the most believably despicable villain in a long, long time. Is there any future for the third Summers brother?

Dan Abnett: All I can say to both is, I’m afraid, no comment ;).

The Mast: In keeping with the prior question, you've been revealed as the writer for the upcoming Heroes for Hire series. What else can we expect to see you on? That you are permitted to talk about, that is.

Dan Abnett: Heroes for Hire is big for us, and we're very excited. We're deliberately going to something as un-cosmic as possible, just for a change of pace and to recharge our batteries. Street-level vigilante heroes is about as far as you can get from cosmic. I think readers will really enjoy the tight thriller concept and off-beat set up of the series, not mention the trademark D'n'A oddball team combo, forgotten character revival and shock twists.

The Mast: Last and by no means least...who is your favourite character to write? I think you write a mean Surfer, but I'd go with Nova. He's essentially gone from this powered New Yorker to a legitimate cosmic protector that transcends being Earthbound. He really has come into his own and, being that he is a fav of mine, I'd like to thank you.

Dan Abnett: Thank you. Nova is a fave. Oddly, it's some of the tangential characters you get a real fondness for: Mantis and Gamora, Ronan, Jack Flagg and Cosmo.

The Mast: Thank you SO much for taking the time, I really do appreciate it. Keep up the fantastic work because you're making a lot of folks happy!

Dan Abnett: Thank you! My pleasure!


What a lovely chap Dan Abnett is, huh? Thanks again to Dan for grabbing some time to come by, and if you've not been hooked on the cosmic sagas he and Lanning weave, you should be now! The fact that he chose not to comment on a future for Surfer OR Gabriel Summers is as exciting as can be, for me anyway.

Thanks for reading, if you did, as always.

What kind of posts would you like to see on here? As readers, is there anything you were curious about that you'd like my take on, or a question you'd like to ask? Decent questions, please. Bless ya little hearts. Not childish, get-deleted-right-away questions.

Until next time, peace.

-The Mast

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Mast Reviews: Thursday's Comics (7/10/2010).

We found a severed finger by the crockpot!

Due to very unfortunate circumstances I was unable to film with Iyare on this week's episode of Direct Edition, which sucks, because I really wanna guest again. I love that show and those who make it.

Be sure to go check it out and subscribe if you haven't, or tell those you think might like it to do the same.

Also, to the super-tough person who attempts to leave me negative comments and simply gets them laughed at and deleted, I hope you do realise the contradiction of calling someone a pussy while anonymous.

Still, send me your address and I'll send you an autographed picture. I love ALL my fans.

This week was a pretty damn good week for comics. I bought some comic backing boards because I needed them, but I got home to find out they were too small for the sleeves. I'm O.C.D. about my comics, shut up. Now I have 100 backer boards that I bought for £8 and can do nothing with them.

Don't forget, this Saturday comes my interview with Mr. Dan Abnett! Definitely something you'll wanna check out if you've been loving the cosmic stuff. For now, though, COMICS!

Thursday's Comics.

Deadpool: Max #1.

Most of you know, I have wanted an unleashed, violent and explicit Deadpool depiction for a long time now.

Despite being out of continuity, I really did always want a MAX series for Deadpool. What is MAX? MAX is the adult off-shoot of Marvel comics really. Anything with the suffix of MAX means it is explicit and for older readers. The Punisher had his most acclaimed series when Garth Ennis penned The Punisher: MAX, for example. It's simply way more suited to some characters.

Deadpool: MAX #1 sees a down-on-his-times guy named Bob (Always Bob) telling a voice on the other end of a telephone about his last mission. Deadpool was hired, or decided, to assassinate reclusive head of A.I.M., Hammerhead. To infiltrate the building he crafted a careful plan that involved this mole, Bob, getting anally raped, beaten and generally threatened by a sadist named Bruno. All while feeding Deadpool information.

Through various fake death scenarios, Deadpool finally gets to the paranoid Hammerhead and shoves a combat knife through his face. The proficiency with which he kills the guards is just...unf. It's what I've been waiting for. A snarky, rather mean and understated, yet still hilarious Deadpool.

It's all here, really; violence, death, nudity, harsh language. This is shaping up to be yet another series that resurrects the reputation of Deadpool among fans. Like I said, it's just such a shame it's not in continuity.

I don't know if I'd consider it a jumping on point as far as getting to know Deadpool, but if you feel like giving it a whirl, by all means do! The artwork is pretty zany, but Deadpool looks very lean and assassin-like. He really does look gracefully lethal and ironically centered in a chaotic art style. I like it.

Avengers Academy #5.

Another part origin, part continuation issue.

Striker gets the treatment this time, and it's a little cliched to be honest. The most obviously brash and arrogant one is shown to have been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of one of many men his fame-craving mother would bring home. A true golddigger, she used him to get famous when she couldn't any longer.

It's typical and it sort of takes away credibility from any angst he may have. He re-tells his origina to Jocasta as she mindlessly wanders around the mansion at night, which I felt did give it a nice touch.

The story progresses with him hitting on various students, Veil and Finesse in particular, and lashing out during a training section. This time they bring in none other than Steve Rogers to teach the kids about hand-to-hand combat. It's brilliant, really. Hazmat (How I love thee) remarks that this session is dumb because she could just fry him if she wanted to. At this point, like a pimp, Steve just throws Finesse's baton at her chest and says something about how she COULD kill him, but he COULD'VE aimed for her trachea and caused her to suffocate to death too.

His main lesson is that even an unarmed, non-powered opponent can be lethal. It's pretty neat seeing Mettle and Reptil all starstruck. Striker is less impressed and begins getting impatient about how they should be famous and not hiding away, which really worries Steve. Nobody, according to him, ever joined The Avengers to be a celebrity or to get fame.

Christos Gage is doing really, incredibly well giving each character motive for something else. There really is so many possibilities for these characters, as I've said before. The art gives great characterisation to the characters, too. Even with Hazmat's mask, Mettle's expressionless face etc, they're FULL of personality.

The issue culminates with the students being exposed after Whirlwind mounts an ill-fated attack on Hank Pym. Striker proposes that they don't wind up with the adulthood to match his childhood, and that if they don't combat the press now, it'll get worse. The school is exposed and Striker wraps up his story to Jocasta, whose red eyes provide the closing shot of the comic.

If I haven't sold you on this series yet, I'm not sure what more I can do. It's one of my favourite on-going titles right now, it really is. Hazmat is someone I feel an immediate bond with and truly hope she gets used more.

Join the class, people.

Uncanny X-Force #1.

Is it my birthday? No? Then why the epic Deadpool trend?

He's not in it for much this issue, but what he DOES do as a new member of the NEW X-Force? Oh boy. Infiltrating an ancient temple, looking for an unnamed (It's obvious who it is) enemy, he rants and raves to himself WITHOUT THE TWO VOICES IN THE HEAD. It's so funny. The team seems very well balanced, all the characters either have workable history or could easily build a great connection.

The concept of Fantomex/Deadpool interaction just makes me smile. Also, Wade's looking mighty slick in his new black/white/red lenses X-Force threads.

That's where we end up, basically. Warren Worthington III is struggling to control his Angel/Archangel, but does so with the help of his lover, Psylocke (Mirroring Scott/Emma, but I'll try to dig it). Fantomex is the new guy, and Wolverine's the old guy. Deadpool is the guy Archangel has been sending on tracking missions for a year, all leading up to this point.

Deadpool gets captured after he informed the team that he has found what they're looking for, and when we later catch up with him and they save him, he is singing Conga by The Miami Sound Machine while being tortured. That's just...I love that. That's just typical Deadpool, he WOULD like Gloria Estefan, and I love that Remender knows that.

The target is revealed to be none other than the reverted child form of Apocalypse. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I doubt we're meant to. Archangel harbours a grudge against Apocalypse like NOOOOOO other. It's one of the biggest in Marvel history. So, naturally, Wolverine's a little concerned about his emotional state. There's just lots of great threads of story to be worked with here. I just hope Deadpool isn't a fleeting member.

Deadpool's continuity really is all out of goose right now, though. Where does this take place? When? All in relation to Daniel Way's shit, I mean. I don't care much. I'll just assume Uncanny X-Force is where he's at currently.

Opena's art is just eye-damagingly pretty. Solid, watercolour-esque and very, very fluid. The sequence at the end of this book (With MORE Deadpool bad-assery/shitty joke telling) shows how everything flows. He almost has a Kirby-like touch in the sense that everything is like quick punches.

GET ON IT, YO. Seriously. Such a cool opening issue.


I didn't get S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 or Chaos War #1. The former because I forgot and the second because by the time I got my hands on the comic, there was one left and someone in the store was specifically asking about it, so I did my good deed and gave it away. Shame, because I think there's only gonna be a second printing variant now.

You MAY get this post updated tomorrow, because I may go back and get my backer boards/comic sleeves. We'll see.

I'm probably dropping S.H.I.E.L.D. from Thursday's Comics. It's one issue every two months and so densely packed that it probably reads better as trades. So, what I'll do is just review it once every...four issues. I might even wait until it's finished and just do one huge review. I've heard it won't be a full on-going anyway. It's probably, conceptually, my favourite on-going. We'll see where it goes.

That's about all I've got for you today, folks. Thanks so much for reading.

-The Mast

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Mast Meets: Fred Van Lente (Pt. 2).

Greetings to you all.

I come bearing one of TWO upcoming new interviews. Isn't that just the way? You wait ages for your next bus and then two come along at once.

None other than Fred Van Lente, the man I interviewed first, has come back to talk our faces off with some exciting comics talk, as well as the next big event he is working on.

First I'd like to thank him a great deal for coming back, and secondly, you, for reading.

Let us get right into it!

The Mast Meets: Fred Van Lente (Pt. 2).

The Mast: Before we get onto the big issue, I want ton say congrats on the Taskmaster mini-series! I'm glad someone with a sense of lethality and humour took him under their wing. You write a pretty humourous Deadpool and I am thrilled you're doing Tasky's mini. Is that something that came out of the blue, or did you want to handle the character for some time?

F.V.L: Thanks so much! I haven't, it's something editrix Lauren Sankovitch brought to me, just to do something with Taskmaster. At first I didn't quite see the appeal but the idea lodged in my brain in the idea of doing a story about a guy with a super-memory that erases his recollections of his own past seemed really cool to me, and Jefte Palo's art is just killing on it.

The Mast: For the uninitatied people who sadly don't keep up with comic books, specifically the Marvel Universe (Squares, as they're called), how would you describe Chaos War?

F.V.L: Chaos War is a big-budget disaster movie on a super hero scale. While super heroes aren't much impressed by towering infernos or Armaggeddon-size asteroids, in Chaos War they face a threat on the scale of which they've never seen before. The Chaos King is all that existed in the multiverse before there was a multiverse, and he seeks to destroy all of reality to make himself the only thing in existence once more. The last stand is -- where else? -- Earth and his heroes, which Chaos King has attacked with his army of slave gods. He's not just knocking over buildings, he's destroyed reality piecemeal -- the Land of Dreams and the Underworld are among his targets. So our heroes have to contend not just with collateral damage on Earth but in the psychic and metaphysical realms as well. Like I said: A disaster movie beyond all imagining!

The Mast: With all that's going on in the M.U. right now, what would you say is its (Chaos War's) relation to the current Marvel status quo and why it's something people should be reading?

F.V.L: Not only is it crucial to the direction of the current Marvel Universe (With serious ramifications for one hero team in particular), it may actually be physically painful for you not to read it, not solely because I will send guys to your house.

The Mast: You seem to have a bit of a knack for writing these godly characters! The Incredible Hercules, as I'm sure I've said, was really good and I love your work on Amadeus Cho. Is there anyone specifically you had/have a blast writing in this book that you hadn't written for before, or one you loved returning to?

F.V.L: I have always been a huge Sersi fan from when she was an Avengers mainstay, and it was great to bring her back to a kick-ass heroic role as the resident wise-ass on the God Squad, the ultra-powerful team Hercules assembles to stop the Chaos King.

The Mast: Something I'm quite excited for is the Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 one-shot. I always liked them and kind of thought it was a bit of a throwaway death when they got wiped out by The Collective. DID they get wiped out by The Collective, or did something more complicated happen? Is it a "Read and find out" scenario?

F.V.L: If you'll look on the beautiful Salva Espin cover, the floating heads were killed by The Collective (Well, except Marinna, who bought it during Dark Reign), but they have a second chance at life thanks to the, er, chaos of the Chaos War! Whether or not that becomes permanent is a true "Wait and see" scenario.

The Mast: Without revealing too much, obviously, are there any installments or parts of Chaos War that you got abnormally excited about, or are particularly excited to see reactions to?

F.V.L: It's had for me to say and sound sincere, but I keep reading the lettering proofs and keep getting surprised myself just how far Greg and Khoi and I are going with bringing the "shock and awe" of super hero event comics to this book. This is bigger than you think. It redefines big. It makes Blackest Night look like Slightly Cloudy. It makes Civil War look like Friendly Disagreement. Be prepared to scrape your brains off the walls at the end of #1, because your mind will be blown.

The Mast: Thanks for your time once more Fred. I really appreciate it!

F.V.L: My pleasure. Thanks for asking.


So, there you have it! If you needed any more reason to pick up issue #1 of Chaos War, there are plenty there! Deaths, fighting, excitement and a sincere threat from Van Lente that he will send guys to your house. You know what to do!

If you still haven't bought Fred Van Lente's Action Philosophers in trade paperback, you're a bad human.

On Wednesday I guest on Direct Edition, after that comes Thursday's Comics (It does look like a fairly awesome week), then on the Saturday I will be posting an interview with someone I've wanted to chat to for a LONG time now. That someone is Mr. Dan Abnett, Marvel's supreme cosmic scribe! Be sure to check back as we talk about lots of things past, present and spacey.

Until next time, peace.

-The Mast