Review: Valhalla Mad #1 Offers Incentive to Raise a Glass

ValhallaMad_01Story:

Joe Casey

Art:

Paul Maybury

Letters:

Rus Wooton

Designer:

Sonia Harris

Flats:

Ricky Valenzuela

Publisher:

Image Comics

Their names are legend: the Glorious Knox! Greg Horn the Battlebjörn! Jhago the Irritator! Three warrior gods vacationing on Earth, just looking to get their drink on and have a good time! Join the drunken festivities with toastmasters JOE CASEY (SEX) and PAUL MAYBURY (SOVEREIGN). The new mythology begins now!

Joe Casey’s Valhalla Mad has been a long time coming. The author’s satirical look at Thor and the Warriors Three from Marvel certainly had a lot of potential when it was initially announced. Joining Casey for pencils in his exploration of myth is Paul Maybury. Knox, Greg, and Jhago return for a visit to Earth home to find things out of place and the innocence of the previous decades that they were used to almost completely eradicated.

The first thing really striking about this comic is how it is presented to the reader with production design that can be likened to that of an old book. The first page for readers to see after the opening the title adds more to the texture of the series looking like a frayed old manuscript — where thereafter the series reveals a credits page with beautifully aged font. Graphic designer Sonia Harris’ influence can really enjoyed by the reader. Maybury’s pencils are subtle and designed to seem ancient, the artist perfectly colors his own work — allowing his pencils to accentuated in just the right manner. Also, the Jack Kirby designs on the leads are wonderfully retro — and make me wish that the Odinson retained more of his classic look as well. Readers can tell that Maybury has a deep love of the King’s artwork, as this series doesn’t seem to be talking down to those older 60’s comics.

Casey’s flowery prose given to the three leads are presented in a poignant, but in an interesting manner that illustrates the author’s strong command on language. As the series goes on it will be interesting to take a look at how far the scribe has developed the mythology of Viken, the homeworld of the gods. One such example of fine mythology is how Knox and his people are returning to Earth, and happy to see the older members of the force that they had previously spent time with before. The different attitudes towards the three characters allows for a comparison of the different world of the 60’s comics that the trio likely originated from. Surprisingly, it takes the the trio of this comic quite a while before they are able to taste the mead of our world. However, the scene in which they do is justly audacious.

This first issue barely has a plot — being that there are a couple of people coming back to Earth to spend some time partying. With comics now being so driven by events and violence, spending a few moments getting to know who these characters are is pleasant. Also, seeing the people of Earth’s different reactions to these characters is quite profound. Not every bystander in this comic has the same thing to say about these people. Some remember Knox and company — and some do not. Next installment offers some teases of the plot kicking into gear and becoming more grand. For the time being, this comic should offer Thor fans some old-fashioned mead-induced fun. Maybury’s detailed and triumphant artwork paired with Casey’s love of wordplay transforms this first installment into a joyous celebration of the different kinds of places comics can take us.

Remembering Seth Kushner with images and words

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The comics world continued to pay tribute to Seth Kushner this week, following his passing on Sunday. Michael Cavna has an amazing gallery of Kushner’s many amazing photos of comics creators, an astonishing body of work, along with tributes from Neil Gaiman, Becky Cloonan and many many more.

Seth’s “final photographs seem to capture things that the camera shouldn’t have been able to, considering the casual ease that he set up his shots,” the talented Jeffrey Brown tells us. But then, “That’s what artists do,” says the gifted Rick Parker. “They see right to the heart of their subjects.”


The above photo, from Mocca in 2010 of the dream panel of Paul Pope, Dean Haspiel, Frank Miler, Kyle Baker and Jaime Hernandez is but one such image.

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Seth’s close friend Hannah Means Shannon has a a wonderful rite up of his memorial service which was held this past Wednesday.

For that reason, the thoughts that friends and family shared, the tributes to Seth, were that much more immediate, conversational, and brutally honest, in my opinion. Other funeral services I’ve been to now seem lacking in this quality of direct communication among the people gathered. We celebrated Seth as if he was in the room, since he still felt like he was. Another thing that may have made the gathering and speeches seem surreal to many of Seth’s creative friends is that, in a few instances, they felt like one of the many spoken word events Seth took part in or attended. Events where people performed prose or read aloud from projected comics.


As Hannah notes, Haspiel read one of Seth’s comics aloud, surely the only memorial service I’ve ever attended that included that, but it was so touching. Another speaker quoted The Dark Knight Returns, and a third Death’s line from The Sandman: “You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.” And someone else quoted Star TtreK II: “I have been and always will be your friend.”

Seth would have loved all this. And I think showing the universal power to comfort of these words from once disreputable mediums was an especially fitting tribute for him.

And as Dean put it, “Seth did more in a hospital gown than some people do in a year.” If there is one lesson to be taken from Seth’s horrificly young passing, it’s that you only get one chance to go around this world, and not taking advantage of this is a true tragedy.

Most importantly, there is an ongoing funding effort to help Seth’s wife Terra and son Jackson. His family meant everything to him, and please keep them in your thoughts.

Marvel teases Eight Months Later

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Oh boy here we go…as Battleworlds and pizzas collide we’ll have a newish Marvel U at summer’s end. This teaser is a little reminiscent of DC’s various “one year later” upheavals over the years which is little ironic since whether this could be termed a “relaunch” or a “revamp” or just a promotion has been hotly debated. Guess we’ll find out.

Review: Tomorrowland: A world where earnest meets empty

It’s often said that the writers on Lost were just making it up as they went along; weaving the most impossible scenarios into the yarns of the story, hoping an explanation or ending might surface after-the-fact.

If that is, in fact, how Lost was written, it’s easy to argue that Damon Lindelof‘s latest writing venture takes the opposite approach. With a script credited to Lindelof, Jeff Jensen, and director Brad Bird, Tomorrowland feels like a concept or idea (or a philosophy, even) that was fleshed out into 15 minutes of story in the writers’ room. That 15 minutes of story was nestled into the movie’s ending, and 90 minutes of “robots-are-chasing-you-run!” were tacked on ahead of it. A movie that knew where it wanted to go, but had no idea how to get there.

Given the movie’s title and inspiration, it’s awfully hard not to compare it to one of Disney’s rides – waiting more than an hour for an experience that lasts minutes.

The premise of Tomorrowland centers around Casey (Britt Robertson), a rebellious, intelligent teenager who has a knack for understanding how things work. When Casey is gifted a mysterious pin by a child named Athena (Raffey Cassidy), she realizes she has a key to another world where ambitious minds can meet. She enlists the help of a grumpy man named Frank (George Clooney) to help her escape a gang of robots that have started chasing her for the pin (…it’s genuinely as abrupt as it sounds), and they work together to get back to Tomorrowland.

It’s also worth mentioning that several people (primarily bystanders) die on-screen in Tomorrowland, but the violence is glossed over so quickly that it’s simultaneously jarring and forgettable. I’m not opposed to violence showing up in movies, but I prefer if it has a purpose in the story. Here it’s to show that bad robots are bad. Got it? Bad robots. Bad.

It’s not all bad stuff, mind you – the movie’s peak features a Home Alone style house that’s been booby-trapped by Clooney’s character – but after several successful directorial efforts from Bird, including The Incredibles, it’s hard not to consider this one a misfire.

The break-out success of this film, if anything is to be remembered from it, will likely be Robertson’s performance. For a hollow character in a hollow film, Robertson manages to lend enough personal ticks and mannerisms to Casey to make her likable. It may not be a particularly challenging part, but Robertson’s Jennifer-Lawrence-like persona shines through.

Lindelof has already taken to the press to say that this is a movie fanboys will be too cynical to like. While it’s true that Tomorrowland offers a more optimistic look at our future, rather than pining over a world of zombies and destruction, I don’t think it’s the premise that will kill the film’s good will. In fact, I think that’s one of the few and only reasons I’ve seen cited for people enjoying it.

Instead, Tomorrowland spends the majority of it’s running time on bad action (pro-tip: don’t see this movie right after Mad Max: Fury Road) and then decides to clumsily tell, rather than show, its message in a few final moments. Regardless of Lindelof’s claim that this movie isn’t for cynics, the problem isn’t with the viewers. The problem is that a fortune cookie philosophy served at the end of a bad meal doesn’t make the food taste good.