Deadpool #900 Yes, I'm finally getting around to that Deadpool cover I was going to post. I was originally going to post this cover, but you may be able to tell by the post date that today is Thursday, and I was informed by a reader last night that I was late with my Wednesday comic cover post. So, in an effort to not disappoint my one reader, I've upgraded to the wraparound cover for Deadpool #900, a special 8-story, 104-page special edition celebrating the series' milestone. I realize it's not much in way of appeasement, but I haven't even gotten a chance to write about PAX stuff yet, so there will be more posts than usual this month. Anyway, this particular cover is by a Deadpool cover regular, Dave Johnson. Johnson is also one of the founders of something called the Drink and Draw Social Club. As you can probably guess, it's a get together of artists and aspiring artists at a bar for drinking and drawing. It looks like it happens just about every Thursday at a bar in LA, but they also appear to tour around a bit with various comic shows if you happen to live somewhere other than LA. They even have books with work from these outings for sale if you're interested. All in all, a pretty awesome thing that you might want to look out for the next time you go to a comic con.
Carnage #5 Wow. So this was a random find. I was planning on doing another Deadpool cover this week, because Deadpool is my favorite and I wanted to do a cover of his that I liked more than my post from a couple weeks ago. This a little too awesome to pass up though. The cover is by Clayton Crain, and it's issue three of five in this series that tracks the return of the Carnage symbiote from space. Crain does all the covers in the series as well as the inside work. You might also recognize his work from X-Force volume 3 (another one of the my favorite series) and - as I'm learning today - a lot of other comics where he does the same cover/pencil/ink/color combo. A lot of Crain's work is pretty amazing, but I think he does a spectacular job with Carnage. It's legitimately terrifying. I know that's kind of the point of Carnage, but other renders of him haven't strongly invoked that kind of response from me. The story synopsis also sounds incredibly interesting. Parts of the story are told from the viewpoint of someone being taken over by the symbiote, not Cletus Kasady, and it details that person's struggle to keep control of their own mind even after their body has been taken over. Like I said, it sounds like it would be a really cool perspective to read from, but maybe that's because of it's similarity to another series I love. Either way, I'm adding this to my list of comics to pick up.
Ultimate Comics X-Men #5 In last Wednesday's post, I mentioned that I liked a lot of Kaare Andrews' covers, so I thought I'd follow up with my favorite of his covers. This one features a closeup of Rogue. In this arc, like many others, Rogue struggles with her mutant powers and searches for a way to lead a normal life. While this and several other characters are the same, the series also features Kitty Pride in her newly assumed identity as The Shroud. Here's a version with the cover text added if you're interested. The Marvel Wiki is my main source for comic cover images and artist information, and you can find a decent collection of covers by Andrews on that site. I didn't really care for the style he used on his Astonishing X-Men covers, but I think he has a lot of good ones for Ultimate Comics and they cover a pretty wide range of characters so you can probably find one you'll like too.
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe I've been excited about this since a friend told me it was coming several months ago. This is one of four covers from the Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe mini-series that's on a weekly release schedule for August. The title is pretty self explanatory, Deadpool is a serial killer who goes around killing Marvel heroes (and villains apparently). I'm guessing there's a little more of a cohesive story line at play here, but I'm waiting until all four issues are released to get them. The covers are all by Kaare Andrews, and you can see all of them on this review site I've randomly selected. Andrews has a website that is currently under construction, but maybe that'll change in the near future. I actually like a lot of his covers, especially the Ultimate Comics ones. So those are worth a look if you're interested.

Coming to a Seattle near you.

Emerald City Comic Con was the first comic convention that I went to. I've always wanted to - and continue to want to - go to San Diego Comic Con, but I've never been able to negotiate the trip. Still, I went to ECCC last year and completely fell in love with it. Though a lot different from the gaming conventions I more often frequent, it was awesome and I'm so excited for this year's. Especially now. There was a news post on the ECCC website yesterday that announced it's latest celebrity guest, and it just so happened to be Billy Dee Williams. Yes, Lando Calrissian is coming to Seattle. Probably. I mean, these lists tend to change quite a bit as we closer to the actual event date (March 1st to 3rd). For example, last year Katee Sackhoff was replaced by Christopher Judge on the list of celebrity guests. So these things happen, but they still turn out to be awesome.
his commercials are awesome

"I don't claim you can have a better time with Colt 45 than without it, but why take chances?"
- Billy Dee Williams

I think Billy Dee is a little bit different thought. For some, it might be his sound advice when it comes to beverage selection, but for me, it's because he's Star Wars. It's strange to say that Star Wars has shaped me and my life, because it's a little scary to think about how a commercial product can have that kind of effect, but it's true to an extent. Star Wars was my first real childhood interest, and it just never went away. I grew up pretending to be Han Solo, and later Boba Fett because let's face it, he's awesome. I met my first friends in elementary school because we liked Star Wars. Through those friends I got into computer games. Through computer games I met some new friends who introduced me to console gaming and LAN parties, and guess what, they all liked Star Wars. I've probably had more Star Wars centered discussions and debates than with any other topic. These were my closest friends throughout elementary school, high school, and college and they continue to be some of my closest friends today. My interests, my academic and work career, and many of my life experiences have been affected by Star Wars. It's certainly not the only thing that made me who I am today, but it's interesting to think about the impacts of something that released before I was born.
Cast reunion photo

Chewie looks pretty much the same.

And I know I'm not the only one like this, and I'm sure there are others where Star Wars has had an even more direct and meaningful effect on their life. Star Wars has a gravity and ubiquity that very few (if any) franchises have or can even hope to achieve. It's not only a staple, but it has continued to thrive and evolve in both sub cultures and the main stream. You can see it at nearly any nerd-related convention or event, and it is never considered out of place. That's a lot of power for something created solely as a source of entertainment. Still, in my mind it is becoming an old world power; you have to at least be in your 30's to have been alive when A New Hope came out. The news release from ECCC got me thinking about this with a simple fact it led me to, Billy Dee Williams is 75 now. This took a little while for my brain to reconcile. There's nothing like a little basic math and seeing your childhood heroes age to give you a clear picture of reality. That being said, I know there will be a time when even the oldest never saw any of the original trilogy in theaters (and eventually, the prequel trilogy too), but I wonder if there will ever be a time when Star Wars isn't relevant. I hope not, things just wouldn't be same without it.
Amazing Spider-Man #641 This week's cover is the fourth - and final - chapter in the One Moment in Time arc. This story follows on the heels of the One More Day arc and addresses the fallout that accompanies Peter Parker revealing himself as Spider-Man in the Civil War. There is a lot leading up to these events, and all of it forms a pretty key point in the Amazing Spider-Man chronology. The cover is one of my favorites. It's beautiful, but I also think it's refreshingly simple and elegant for a Spider-Man cover. Paolo Rivera does the cover and some of the interior work for this issue and the three others in the story arc (among many others). He also has his own blog.
X-Men #30 We're going a little bit back in time for this week's cover, back to X-Men Vol. 2 #30 to be exact. This is the wraparound cover variant, by Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan, for the Scott Summers and Jean Grey wedding issue. Fun fact, Andy Kubert is currently the VP of The Kubert School in New Jersey. The school was founded by his father, Joe Kubert, and is dedicated to Cartooning and Graphic Art. It also looks like Ryan owns a freelance art studio, Mine Studio, which rounds out two of the more entrepreneurial comic artists I've run across in the short lifespan of this website. I like the wraparound variant because it showcases the fairly diverse crowd and shows you who all is there. Certain people you may not expect are Cable, in the third row behind Bishop, and although I don't see her on the cover, Rachel Summers. You can also note Wolverine's absence from the wedding, though that was done with good intentions and may not be entirely true. The issue provides a cool look at a lot of elements in the X-Men universe through the cast of characters present, and that's something I really like about it. Another reason I chose this cover is a more personal one. I will be attending a wedding for two old friends of mine, and I thought this (plus whatever item I happen to grab off their registry) might make for a nice, little tribute. So, in the event that either of you happen to be reading this, I wish you only the best and a long, happy life together.
Uncanny X-Men #509 This week's cover features Psylocke, another one of my favorite X-Men characters. Greg Land's cover art features Psylocke split into two of the bodies she has inhabited, that of Betsy Braddock and Kwannon. As you might gather, her back story is a pretty interesting one. While she isn't the sole focus of this issue (Uncanny X-Men does like its multi-story plot lines), it issue does serve as Psylocke's return to the 616 universe. Almost more interesting than reading the issue for me was reading people's opinions of Greg Land. There isn't much of a vetting process associated with what covers are featured here and which ones aren't. Sometimes, it's me making a run to a comic store, or digging one out of my collection at home, and arbitrarily choosing one I think I could write more than a few sentences on. This process has given me reason to pay more attention to the actual cover artists, which is something that I usually didn't pay much attention to. Which is a little strange, since comic cover art was what drew me into comics to begin with; no pun intended. Regardless, most of the cover artists I've looked at don't get much beyond their own website (if they even have that). Greg Land is the first that I have found who has something like this. It's actually pretty good, and its search result placement is pretty impressive and probably a little dis-concerning for Greg whenever he does a Google search for himself.
As a preface, this might contain spoilers depending on what you consider a spoiler. So if you're avoiding all Bat-related coverage before seeing the movie, you should avoid this as well. Or you can continue reading on below... To make what I'm guessing will turn into a long story short, I really liked the movie. Despite myself, this wasn't even one of those, "OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME AND I MUST SEE IT AND I WILL LOVE IT UNCONDITIONALLY," kind of things (sometimes those things happen, for better and for worse). After walking out of the Spider-Man premiere in the proceeding weeks, I was actually nervous, and almost borderline convinced that it wasn't going to be very good. After a friend and alcohol infused night spent watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight back to back, my faith was restored to a more moderate level. However, I never really believed it would turn out great. Perhaps it was expectations management, or maybe the event's reasonably-priced cash bar, but I was happy to find those expectations exceeded. One thing that really made the movie for me was the portrayal of Bane. I know that people took several issues with Bane, and some of them I can understand, but none of them were a sticking point for me. After seeing the movie, I went back and read a lot of the articles and interviews that I had shunned earlier, and I was surprised to read how many people were concerned with Bane's voice. Yes, it was modulated, but not into Sanskrit. I thought it was beautifully done, and I thought Tom Hardy was able to use it with an incredible range that added a lot of depth to what could have easily been a villain with a robot-voice. Another concern, one which was more prevalent in reviews after the release, centered around Bane's comic backstory and the film's accuracy in that respect. It's a concern that I can understand, but I think this is an example of an adaptation that follows the basic lore but changes some of the details. Again, I can understand someone who is upset by this lack of loyalty to the source material. We've been blessed with a recent abundance of well-made, story-accurate superhero movies; but while this may deviate from that norm, I don't think it detracts from the quality of the film or story at all. Bane's semi-traditional Venom storage tanks have been replaced by his mask. Though different, they both serve a similar purpose to the character (one provides him with strength and the other protects him from debilitating pain) and they both serve as his one real weakness. The prison that he grew up in, that shaped him, may have been slightly different, but it's hardly of consequence. His relationship with Ra's al Ghul was a little different in the film, but not completely fabricated. In the comics, Bane was chosen by Ra's al Ghul to be his successor much like he did Batman, and this eventually ends in a falling out between the two. So were things exact? No, but in my opinion, they did the character justice, and in some ways, elevated him above his usual portrayal as a villain who simply breaks his enemy physically. I could keep going on, but there were a lot of these kinds of elements where I found something I wasn't expecting, and that was fantastic. Needless to say (because I've already said it several times), I enjoyed it a lot. I'm not going to be as ravenous in my opinion as some, but I would urge you to see it if you have even a slight inclination to do so.
X-Men Legacy #223X-Men Legacy #224 I got distracted with Fallout: New Vegas last Wednesday, so I've decided to make up for it with a comic cover double feature! These are the covers for X-Men Legacy issues 223 and 224, parts four and five of the five part Salvage series. Both covers were done by Lee Bermejo and Morry Hollowell, and both covers illustrate the two struggles the series addresses. The first being Xavier's final confrontation with Danger, and the second being Rogue's struggle to control her powers. It was a fun series to read and a big transition point in Rogue's story. So if that's of interest to you, it's probably worth picking up.