I have no idea what this is for, but for those old timey listeners of the Meltcast, you know I like it.
Its another totally rad talk this week as the Weekly Comic Brew brings in former Meltcast alum Caleb Monroe!
We chat up mucho comic goodness including what Caleb is writing including his story in BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT, his upcoming BOOM! work, and then we spill the beans on oodles of books such as HELLRAISER, BRILLIANT, various NEW 52 books, CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENT, the CHOKE HOLD prose novel, STAR WARS comics and novels, KICK-ASS 2 (required listening for Mr. Rosa, he should be shocked), SUPERIOR, IRREDEEMABLE, LAST OF THE GREATS, FEAR ITSELF, SCHISM, WOLVERINE, WOLVERINE: BEST THERE IS, SCALPED, and we close out talking about some local LA comic conventions including the Long Beach Comic Con, and the upcoming Comikaze comic convention this weekend.
Peace, Love, and Rock Stars!
Well here I am, back again.
As mentioned before, it seems that lately I've tailed off in the blogging/posting something cool/whatever department. As my blogging has become scarce, so it seems has the attention paid to this little corner of the WWW. So, in the spirit of re-invigoration, and (temporary) inspiration, I've decided to premiere a new feature here on the Brew Stew. Its called the Weekly Comic Brew, wherein I talk about a single comic or collected edition once a week. Now it could be more than one comic or trade I talk about, and I very well could post more than once a week, but for now, I'm keeping the expectations modest, and thinking at least hit a comic I've read every week.
Most likely the comic talked about will be a book I enjoyed, but even if I didn't like it, I'll have something to say, and anyone who's listened to the Meltcast knows I can't keep my mouth shut when it comes to certain books.
So here's the first taste of the stew, and since its the opening salvo, I decided to lead off with not one, not two, but yes, you guessed it, THREE books. Call it the triple play. Actually call it what you want, here it is.
OUR LOVE IS REAL (One-Shot, independent)
2nd Print Variant
I wasn't originally intending to rank these from best to worst, but upon thinking about the order they would be in, I guess I did rank them that way in the end.
So yes, the best of the bunch without a doubt was a 26 page gem by certain somebody who also made his feelings known on the Meltcast. He sat beside me and alliances were made and broken in the time together, but he was always my comrade-in-arms.
He was and is, The Hammer.
Now before everybody who isn't aware of the situation just rolls their eyes because we did a podcast together and HOW COULD I SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT SOMETHING THE MAN DID! just know, anyone who listened to the show knows that we disagreed frequently (not on the same level as the Rosa Rage, or Caleb even, but we did disagree fairly often). But also, I hadn't really read much of anything that really gave me a sense of what kind of writer he was. Sure, I read his Fraggle Rock story, and it was cute, but to me it was fun fluff about a property I really didn't know much or care about. His CBGB story was cool, but it was a quickie, and so I came into this book not knowing what to think. In fact, after hearing the vague plot of a futuristic sci-fi story where the masses made widespread love to plants and rocks (not to mention man's best friend), I was even more unsure of what to think.
Well, suffice to say, after reading, I had been fully engrossed in the world these two collaborators created. I don't want to go into the plot much, but it is a self contained story, which throws you in the middle of the action straightaway. What's amazing is the way we get a firm grasp of all the players involved in the span of several pages. For such a short story featuring new characters, we're treated to fantastic characterization that made me realize that Sam is a writer to be reckoned with (maybe Wizard was onto something with the top 5 writers to watch nod). His dialogue is great, and he does something that I think great comic book writers do, which is to leave each page with a teaser or bit that makes you want to turn the page to see what happens next (I've been reading 100 Bullets lately, and Azzarello is someone who does the same thing).
Anyways though, this story was would not have been the success it was without Steven Sanders' art. In fact, even after gushing about how much I loved the writing, I really feel that the art was the selling point of the book for me. It was done in black and white, which I'm sure was a financial decision but even though I'm sure this world could of been lushly rendered with a million colors, the black and white aspect actually sold me on the grounded, personal story that was being told. Sanders looks the best I think he ever has here, with heavy blacks illustrating great facial expressions and heavy gut-crunching action. Humphries wisely keeps the panel count on each page down, which allows Sanders to take flight and go wild with his art. As concise and layered a story this was, Sam and Steve keep the story open and flowing, making it pure pleasure to drink in each page.
My love is real. For this book.
Note: Our Love Is Real is available digitally at their site, and apparently, as Bleeding Cool reports, extremely hard to find in print. So they're putting a second print out. For you.
ULTIMATE DOOMSDAY (Marvel Comics, Ultimate)
What a foul taste that left.
And I didn't even finish the series.
It was the comic that made me swear off Jeph Loab written comics (a trend that had started with The Ultimates 3), but for all its bad plotting, hackneyed storytelling, and cheap deaths, Ultimatum did accomplish one thing.
It shook things up.
The result was that after the event, we didn't really have the X-Men, the FF had broken up (or something, like I said, I didn't finish the series), most of New York had been destroyed, plus heavy hitters like Wolverine, Magneto, Doctor Doom and Professor X were all KIA.
Picking up some of these story threads, Brian Bendis wrote a trilogy of 4 issue minis entitled Enemy, Mystery, and Doom. I won't spoil the story for those of you who haven't read it, but there is a familiar character who ends up becoming the Ultimate Big Bad, and our heroes must stop impending world destruction by said Big Bad.
This book was filled to the brim with a wide cast of the remaining heroes including members of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and with Bendis writing in a universe he helped create, the proceedings were comfortably fast-paced, characterization was spot on (except for the one gripe I have later), and there were some character twists that I felt were interesting in the context of this universe (such as Ben Grimm and Sue Storm's relationship, among others).
I felt that Rafa Sandoval was perfect to illustrate an Ultimate U story, as his characters were vibrant, colorful, and jumped off the page with energy. In some ways he's reminiscent of Mark Bagley, and Bendis gave him plenty of double page spreads to paint large swaths of cityscape and huge fight scenes.
The problem I had with the series was I felt the story didn't have enough moments that shone a light on why the character who turned evil would turn evil in the first place. There were some, but I felt like with how already-decompressed the story was to begin with, that in 12 issues we could have some more insight into why this character would make the earth-shattering fundamental change in character he did.
But overall, if you like Bendis, and especially if you like Bendis writing the Ultimate universe (at the heart this is a Fantastic Four story, but it also skews closely to his U. Spidey work), than you'll probably really enjoy this book. It has big action, good characterization, and some interesting twists, and while its not perfect, its worth checking out for the reasons mentioned.
DOOMWAR (Marvel Comics)
Ok last one, and number 2 of 2 for the doom-themed books in this edition.
Since its currently 2:45 in the AM as I write this, I'll keep it short, but this series was a fairly recent attempt by Marvel to have "small" events in seemingly ever corner of the universe during the Heroic Age. This particular series happened to take place in Black Panther's said corner of the world, with plenty of guest stars.
It spun out of the Panther ongoing series in which T'Challa had stepped down off the throne of Wakanda, and his sister had taken the mantle of the Black Panther. In this story though, Doctor Doom engineered a scheme to steal the stockpile of vibranium Wakanda holds (which is key to it's status as a world power) and hijinks ensue, with plenty of guest stars (oops, already mentioned that).
Since Doom is the villain, of course the FF show up (Reed and T'Challa combine to heat up the room with some serious brainpower), and initially things start off pretty slow, with a political overtone that permeates things, Doom being the monarch of Latvaria, with T'Challa opposing him as rival head of state.
The story ran 6 issues, and I thought it could of been told pretty well in 4. Some of the middle chapters contained fight scenes that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of so they could have a fight scene (to be fair, it kinda does serve the plot, but could just of easily been trimmed), and it also committed the crime of having random characters show up for no good reason (did we really need Deadpool showing up... what did he do in this story again, besides crack bad jokes about the Wakandan women?)
On the plus side, the art was pretty solid. Scott Eaton (who interestingly, was teamed with inker Andy Lanning) changed his style from the clean figures in X-Men: Legacy to a more gritty shadowed look (I suppose Lanning had a lot to do with the change) in this story. The problem was, writer Jon Mayberry, who apparently only recently started writing comics, sometimes packed too much information in each page and panel, making the proceedings cramped somewhat.
I felt like the story never had a real chance to breathe, and while having said that, could of been told in a shorter span of issues. There were some cool moments (Doom's test before the Panther God was awesome, and probably stood out as the shining moment of the series), but I felt overall it missed an opportunity to be a really good story starring two of the smartest and most powerful men on the planet, in Doom and T'Challa.
If you run across the trade in the bargain bins, by all means check it out, but unless you're a huge fan of the good Doctor Doom and rival monarch T'Challa, you're ok skipping it.
Whew, I'm tired.
The next one of these will be shorter, I promise you that.
- Jeff Lemire's Man-Thing (I know what you're thinking, get your mind out of the gutter)
Art by Jeff Lemire
Interesting note on this page, (which is from Marvel's STRANGE TAILS II anthology). The character Man-Thing has been a personal favorite since I stumbled onto my uncle's comic collection as a wee lad (many Marvel horror titles were contained within, which probably explains a lot, but I digress). Anyways, many fond memories of this monster shambling out of a swamp were imprinted in my mind, and so when I was shown this story by my esteemed colleges on the Meltcast, I had to buy the page, or at least try.
Well, Jeff wasn't selling, at least not yet, but I made my pitch and hopefully one day he'll change his mind. Because whats better than Man-Thing in a swamp?
Man-Thing choking out a Wendigo in Canada, thats what.
Wow, before I start, I really should probably rename my site to "Game of Brew" or "A Song of Stew and Brew" or something, because it seems like all I've been doing lately is blogging about the Song of Ice and Fire books and the TV show. Well, now that I've finished the books again, that will probably slow down, and I'll also restrain myself from writing after every episode I see, as that would get old as well.
It should be said that now that the reading hole formerly filled by ASOIAF is now emptied anew, I'm filling it again once more with comics... and I'm going straight to the core of the hard with the most Marvel of Marvel comics, namely Avengers and Amazing Spider Man as the books I've been catching up on lately.
Without going into extreme detail, it should be said that ever since Dan Slott took over on ASM as the solo writer, the book has been on an EXTREMELY high level. It's interesting, because during Brand New Day, I thought Slott's offerings were the weakest of the writing team's on a pretty consistent basis. However, I think when he took over, his enthusiasm for getting to do exactly what he wanted with one of his on-record favorite characters, plus the fact that this became his only writing project at Marvel (the book is coming out 2x a month, and often is oversized), culminated in the book being rock solid every month. I just read the last 6 or 7 issues (which included the latter part of BIG TIME going into the fallout from Johnny Storm's death and Spidey joing the FF), which brings up another reason that I think Slott is awesome for this book - whenever the FF are in one of his books, it instantly becomes stronger, and is infused with a quirky energy that otherwise isn't there. I have no idea why Slott hasn't been offered to write FF proper before, but I can only hope once Hickman's run is over (which hopefully isn't too soon, because I'm loving FF right now), Slott will get his chance, because when he writes those characters, they are fun, full of personality, and are interpretations that I seem to remember from my childhood (Hickman's take is a little more mature in contrast, although with the cast of characters he has going, its often still a lot of fun as well). But lets hope Marvel puts Slott (maybe with Marcos Martin - one can dream) on the book soon.
I just started reading the first few issues of the second arc of Bendis' Avengers proper title, and its a little too soon to tell how it will pan out, but there's definitely enough there to keep me reading (Infinity Gems and the Inhumans will do that). I thought the first arc of the book was simply ok, and it helps that one of my favorite artists of all time is on it (I think JRJR is the quintisential modern-yet-retaining-classic feel of Marvel artist that the company has today [although the previously mentioned Marcos Martin is getting up there]). For those of you who listened to my podcast when it was dominating the internet courtesy of Rosa/Humphries/Monroe will remember I mentioned that I had dropped the book when the Red Hulk showed up, but I promptly collected back issues of said title once I realized the Inhumans were appearing (Attilan represent!). I'll overlook Rulk for that. I'm also interested in this arc because it seems to be the spiritual sequel of sorts to Bendis and Brian Reed's "The Illuminati" mini from a few years back (the infinity gems were the major plot point, great mini). So, hopefully this story lives up. At the very least, I have pretty Romita art to look at.
Now that I rambled about comics (which actually was not my intent, promise) I wanted to present a special offering from a very special person. Those of you faithful Meltcast listeners may remember him calling in, and also may remember us trying to address his essay length emails he sent in (which always sparked interesting discussion) - but let me present a sample from a email I received recently from the one and only ARMLESS NOT HARMLESS! He had just finished reading A Game of Thrones, and I thought had a very well-worded description of his love for the book, so here it is!
(*the following has been edited for spoilers)
Aaron, I just finished A Game of Thrones not too long ago. Holy wow. That was a hell of a ride. I can see why you liked it. It has those hooks that just sink into your guts and then it pulls on them. I liked it all until ****** died... The whole book was affecting me for days on end--especially when I got the time to read several chapters a day--but that really did it. I had even gotten somewhat attached to ****** and *****, which I wouldn't've done if just about anyone else was writing them, and yet when the one ***** and the other loses the *****, it couldn't hurt as bad because I was already in shock over the fact that ***** had already *****. The tale is just one raw action after another, some good, some bad, but you always get the concentrated, undiluted essence of those actions. In Kill Bill--which, I loved -- the Bride tells the daughter of the assassin that she kills that if she's still raw about it when she's older, then come find her. It's that kind of raw. You get completely immersed in these characters, and all their points of view--I really love it, by the way, that Martin simply titles each chapter by the name of the character whose perspective it's from--and it's their struggles that are completely gripping, that human search for meaning, maybe in Viktor Frankl's sense, in a pure, pure form. The book succeeds as a work of fiction, a drama, a fantasy--I absolutely love his take on magic, by the way, and the gods and religion.
Most fantasy writers will make the magic something with a definite form, definite rules, and the best of these writers devise very, very interesting forms. For example, I love Robert Jordan's in his Wheel of Time series and like Christopher Stasheff's in Her Majesty's Wizard quite a bit, but not so much Gordon R. Dickson's in his Dragon Knight series. I can't love or hate Tolkien's at all because I don't even see what it is, apart from the power of the ring to grant invisibility--I know nothing about Gandalf's magic, the Flame that he keeps, or the Wizards in general. Martin's is so based in dramatic action itself that it's actually quite believable, in my opinion, at least within the confines of the story. It's vague but strong, if that makes sense, or, if not strong, because that implies that it's more subject to oneself than it is, then maybe present. It's not the usual genre fare, which one sometimes tolerates as part of the genre even in the best cases, and which is often overly indulgent, from an artistic point of view, just because the writer can bank on a high level of tolerance from his or her readers for genre tropes or artistic indulgence. It's quite possible that there is no magic in Martin's world at all, if you catch my meaning, because the magic doesn't stand out separate from the development of the characters or the action of the plot.
I say that I can see why you like it, because I know how you--very justifiably--love Scalped and The Walking Dead, and it resembles those two books. Rich, well-developed characters, character-driven plot, a plot that actually goes somewhere, a plot that both pleases the reader and drives the nail of desire ever deeper into him or her. Each installment gives you something and makes you want more...
-Armless Not Harmless
Ok, wanted to get the Scalped love in, but we'll cut it off there and now that this post is huge, see ya next time!
(Poll: do you like "Game of Brew" or "A Song of Stew and Brew" better? You're input will... make no difference, because I'm not changing the name, but go ahead anyways!)
P.S. On a not-so-completely different note, saw THOR, and you know what... Marvel's got another winner! I'm still debating whether its better than IRON MAN 1, and that's all you need to know if you're wondering what you thought I think of its quality... It was great! Maybe I'll go into more detail later... maybe not. We'll see if the mood takes me, but bottome line - worth a watch.
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Wave goodbye…this is the final episode of the MELTCAST! And we’re going out in a blaze of glory.
Recorded LIVE in front of an amazing audience in the back of our home, Meltdown Comics, this is a Meltcast unlike anything you’ve heard before. Expect guests, surprises, singing, revelations, and a heartfelt farewell from Brew, The Hammer, Caleb, and Rosa.
Special thanks to our good friend and “The Fourth Man of the MELTCAST” Andy Khouri of Comics Alliance for helping to send us out in style.
Thanks and appreciation to our special guests, Mel Caylo, Josh Dysart, Josh Fialkov, Tony Fleeces, Matt Gagnon, Ed Laroche, Daniel Quantz, R.J. Ryan, Mark Sable, Felipe Smith…forever MELTCAST champions.
Love and big hugs to all the beautiful people who came out to cheer us to the finish line. We had a blast and hope you did too.
Thanks, now and forever, to Meltdown Comics and the crew at the store for their love and support throughout the past 75 weeks. If you are ever near LA, the store is a must-visit. The spirit of the MELTCAST was born there and shall continue to live there.
And thanks to you, our loyal audience, for supporting us to the end. Much love.
Music: Nelly Furtado - All Good Things Come To An End / Warren G - Regulate
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And what an end it was...
I would first off like to thank everyone who came out. I know I'm going to miss people, and I apologize in advance, but thank you Kyle Garret, John Witmer, Matt Todd, Bionic Dave, Kyle Higgins, Josh Dysart, Mark Sable, Pierre, Matt Gagnon, Andy Kouhri, FELIPE SMITH!!! the Syndrome guys Dan and RJ (thanks for the handsome prizes fellas), Tony, Josh Fialkov, my roommate Matt for driving me around that night, my partner in crime Nick Gagnon for keeping the one's and two's going, Amy and her friend from House of Secrets, Tom Pinchuk, Marz Richards, Shane and Chris Houghton, Ian Brill, my boys Mr. Greg Stutzie and Zach Durant, Mel Caylo (for making another great edition of the MEL-Cast), Gaston and Fransisco for letting us have the space on a Friday night (AND for our many weeks of recording anywhere we could in Meltdown Comics), and all you lovely people who I met and briefly talked with but can't remember your names because I'm terrible, plus everyone else. Thank you brave souls who were willing to call in and be heard, many of the names I've already mentioned but let me add Armless Not Harmless, Shawn Marshall, Neil Kapit, Nathan Budde, and Reilly Brown - you guys are awesome for letting it ring out!
Oh, and thanks to Zach behind the bar for setup help and keeping everyone lubricated all night. Mucho mucho.
The show went better than I could of ever hoped, the room was bursting to the brim with positive energy. I was a little bit dejected because team lead Mr. Rosa was down for the count with a terrible migraine that had him on the couch in the break room vomiting into a trash can minutes before the show started. The Hammer showed what he was made of by overcoming this obstacle and driving the show like a champ, and we weren't expecting Chris to be there due to his condition. Mark Sable had just finished talking up his new book GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES and was lamenting the fact that Chris wasn't there, when...
We love you, from the bottom of our collective heart - we love you and everything you have meant to the show.
Here's to hoping our inane commentary and scandalous selections reach you all in the ether once again very soon.
- THE BREW!!!
P.S. Thank you Mark Miller for making this all possible.
MELTCAST 74: G.O.A.T. The Greatest Comic Books of ALL TIME
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The countdown is on! For our penultimate episode, we go all-in and name the GREATEST COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME!
BECAUSE WE’VE GOT NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE!
That’s right, the most exemplar examples of sequential art in the history of the medium — we’ve got ‘em! From Europe to Asia, from the Golden Age and beyond, we, the brave and foolhardy crew of the Meltcast, step forward to declare which comics are BEST EVER.
Each of the four of us pick our top five, and reveal them in order. Which comics made the list? Tune in to find out!
Hit us up! We want to hear from YOU. Email, voicemail, smoke signals, it’s all at MELTCAST.COM!
Music: Europe - The Final Countdown / MC Hammer - 2 Legit 2 Quit
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Today marked the last time just the four of us will sit around and talk comics every Wednesday on the Meltcast.
Yes, if you listen really hard, you can hear my heart being torn asunder.
We had to go out with a bang, so we discussed our 5 favorite comics of all time. Yes you heard me.
OF ALL TIME.
Now onto the madness which will be the 75th episode finale. Come one come all on Friday!
Until then, here's a few pics from episode 74
The original concept. Caleb and Chris arguing. I think it works.
All bow before the Lord.
Aaron Brewer is an aspiring filmmaker, musician and writer living in Los Angeles. There are many irons in the fire, and hopefully one day he'll be able to complete all the ideas he has floating around in his brain stew.