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Zorro: Rise of the Old Gods Issue #1 Review

A Review from Stephen Clark

When I was a kid, after 9PM or so, the Disney channel would switch from cartoons and live action preteen programming over to airing old black and white TV series, feel good family sitcoms and a few older movies. My favorite among these would be the old black and white Zorro episodes. Because of that, when my grandma and I went to go see ‘The Rugrats Movie’ and they were sold out,  9 year old Stephen suggested we watch ‘The Mask of Zorro’ instead. We did and my Mom was none too happy about it.

This comic, similar to the movie then, Mom wouldn’t have approved of a 9 year old reading. But not for any of the reasons I’d have seen coming.

Camp and avoiding the generic.

On the cover of the comic, it touts the 100 year anniversary of the character Zorro. He’s a product of his time in storytelling style and the world that those stories will be presented in. While reading the comic, the dialogue was one of the first things that stuck out. It came off…formal? Initially, this felt like possibly bad writing but I quickly began reading it like the black and white serial episodes from my childhood. I enjoyed it for the campy formulaic story that I remembered. 

That is, until it departed from that in a BIG way. A nine foot tall eldritch monster kind of way. 

This isn’t a bad thing. We’ve seen a bit of re-framing and fun happen around a lot of classic properties like the Archie comic crossovers with the Predator a couple years back. The monster in this Zorro comic was a jarring change, to be certain, but wasn’t for the worse. Again, stories are a product of their time, and monsters and the casual treatment of gore are certainly one of the defining characteristics of media in the last couple decades.

Storytelling through tropes

One of the first characters we meet in the comic is Mathias, a man with long white/blonde hair. He and his half brother are the leaders of a band of criminals who clearly have a lot more going on with their past and their different parentage is pointed in such a way that we know it’ll be a focus going forward. 

The trope of the possibly supernatural sibling who looks really different from the rest of their family is one that fits well into this new supernatural Zorro world for me and I’m curious to see where that goes.

Art and presentation

The interior art of the comic suffers a bit from same-face-different-outfit qualities but doesn’t detract from the storytelling. The colors stand out as one of the best portions of the art on the page often, though I do think they could better incorporate shading present in the line work in some specific instances. 

Final thoughts

What started as a read that I had to find the enjoyment in, surprised me and subverted my expectation of what a Zorro comic could be. For a first issue, they sow good seeds that are sure to pay off later.

The character of Zorro inserted into a story that the original creator would have never written and does so without being a bad thing. A hard feat to achieve!

Overall Score: C+

Positives: An interesting take on an old character that still maintains itself well in that universe.

Negatives: A turn that won’t be for everyone and art that, at times, took away from the portrayal of the story.

A review copy of this issue was provided by the publisher American Mythology Productions find out more about this series at www.americanmythology.net

30 years of Tim Drake, but still not old enough to drink

Here is a celebration of one of the Robins, Tim Drake, who first appeared back in August 1989 in Batman #436.  It was a quaint appearance and I imagine most fans didn’t even look twice at the panels because the story was Batman Year Three and the focus was on the Post Crisis origin of Dick Grayson.  From those humble beginnings Tim Drake has persevered as a character, gained quite a fan base, and even been considered the best Robin.  Let us take a dive into the story of Tim Drake. 

Batman #436

As I mentioned his first appearance was in a flashback of Year Three and it was in a photograph that would be the last picture of the Flying Graysons.   This story arc took place well after A Killing Joke and A Death in the Family so many of the Bat Family members were taken out of the field.  The editorial of the time was worried about introducing another Robin since things went so tragically bad with Jason Todd.  There was a need for Robin but just how do you get him to be likeable and accepted by the fan base?  There was no chance that Dick Grayson would go back as he was widely accepted as Nightwing.  Enter Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Batman #442

These two gentlemen had done wonders for the New Teen Titans and had transformed Dick Grayson into Nightwing.  Marv came over and wrote all of Year Three, which had beautiful covers by George, which would lead perfectly into the next story arc, A Lonely Place of Dying.  This would be the story that gives us a reason to want Tim Drake as Robin; when Jason became Robin he was stealing tires off the Batmobile, not too heroic a moment.  Tim was introduced as a mysterious character and was quite the detective already; he had remembered the Flying Graysons moves and saw Robin using those and from that deduced that Bruce Wayne must be Batman. 

Robin #0

In the story, A Lonely Place of Dying, the issues zig-zagged back and forth from Batman and the New Teen Titans issues.  Tim had convinced Dick that Batman need Robin, but also some help.  Dick came around to it, but just couldn’t go back to being Robin yet he would still help Batman on the case.  The case would pick the original Dynamic Duo against Two-Face; who would eventually trap both Batman and Nightwing, so who would save them?  Robin would come to the rescue and prove that Robin was needed and Tim could rise to the challenge. 

Red Robin #12

Tim becoming Robin made some major changes to the way the character was perceived.  Tim would go on to change the costume bringing in some armor and a new design, computer and detective skills, along with martial arts ability since he had done some training.  Tim sadly wasn’t able to avoid the curse that most vigilantes have…losing loved ones.  Even before he became Robin he had lost his mother, Janet Drake, to the Obeah Man after she was poisoned in Detective Comics #621 and the story also led to his father, Jack Drake, being paralyzed. 

Red Robin #12

Jack Drake would continue to be a guiding light and sometimes a troubling element in Tim’s life, but the bond of father and son was strong with the two.  Years later there would be another story that would affect the DC Universe and Tim Drake himself, Identity Crisis.  In Identity Crisis, Tim would be forced to listen in on his father’s emergency call to Oracle and how he had to defend himself from Captain Boomerang; these pages were very intense and it was a sad moment that Tim would find himself too late to stop.  Jack did go on to remarry and this would give Tim a step mom in Dana Winters-Drake; sadly after Jack’s death she went in for treatment at a clinic in Bludhaven.  Now we have been led to believe that she died there, but writer Fabian Nicieza says otherwise.

Young Justice #10

Tim has gone onto many other great comics in his time; having had his own successful Robin solo series, leading Young Justice, joining the Teen Titans, and eventually becoming Red Robin.  As the Red Robin he did hold faith that Bruce Wayne was still alive and was proven correct with Bruce’s return; along with that he managed to stop Ra’s Al Ghul and earn his respect.  Tim currently serves with Young Justice by Brian Michael Bendis and has a new costume and is called the Drake.  Here are a couple of stories that I would recommend you check out.  Also if you have any other stories you wish to share feel free to leave a relpy here or on our social media outlets as well.  Always remember to GEEK OUT!

Recommended Reads:

     Batman Year Three:  Batman #436-439

     A Lonely Place of Dying:  Batman #440-442, New Teen Titans #60-61

     Robin #0

     Identity Crisis #5-6    

     Red Robin #1-12

Brian Altano – Revangelion

Album Review By Stephen Clark

The newest music release from Brian Altano, Revangelion carries on the hiphop influenced style from his previous releases. Sampling the well-known and beloved music of Evangelion, it manages to set itself apart from the jump and be much more than just a remix album.

The first track, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”, remained my favorite through each listen. This song had the most to live up to and farthest to fall in comparison to its original counterpart and did so fantastically.. Opening with the unchanged beginning of the theme, it switches into a choppy sample of the vocals over strong music that starts the album off with a drive and vibe that I immediately found myself bobbing my head to.

A consistent stand out on every track are the drums. Punctuating each change in the song and giving each track a full arc, like the vocal sample in the first song, giving a bit of voice that I feel would otherwise be lacking in the ambient feeling of the music. Fuzzy synths, horns and other instruments smartly intertwine to craft a musical experience that I enjoyed in full.

Coming in at 21 minutes in length, I was left wanting more but having had a complete experience with the album starting with the opening theme and ending with the closing credits version of “Fly Me to the Moon”. To his credit, Altano never leans into this only being a good listen for fans of Evangelion , choosing to move away from the well known ebbs and flows of the music at every chance it got.

For me, I found that it was the perfect accompaniment to drawing and wished it were longer so I didn’t have to hit repeat each time it ended. But the fact that I did keep hitting that button is a good thing in a world where any music you could want is available at the click of a mouse.

Overall score: B+ 

Positives: Great execution of a remix album, a perfect opening, and smart decisions on when to depart and be very much its own work. And a good shout out to @AttackPeter for the fantastic album artwork.

Negatives: A shorter release. Just when I was really getting going and enjoying the music, I’d realize that I was on the last track.

Listen to and purchase the album yourself at https://brianaltano.bandcamp.com/album/revangelion 

Review code for this album was provided by Brian Altano.

Late Gamer Plays Titanfall 2

A Review From Hidai Moya

When I bought ‘Titanfall 2’, I was led to expect a phenomenal game experience on par with the best of any Sci-Fi shooter. Sadly that wasn’t the experience I had. That doesn’t mean the game is bad but given the level of hype surrounding this title, I don’t think it lived up to it at all.
In a far off planet, an army of mechanized soldiers fight against another army similarly equipped. We follow our rookie character as he crash lands in enemy turf & learns to use an AI mech for the first time.
The AI & him have nice banter & there is a lot of nice looking platforming to go along with the shooting. The opening act is the best part of the game, but once I got into further levels, I was left unimpressed with the enemy AI which even on a difficult setting barely presented a challenge.
The mech vs mech battles are the best part of this game, but as interesting as they are, they feel a tad bit basic.
The concept of this game is neat, but even with a brief time travel level, I felt overall there was still a lack of imagination in the delivery. I’ve played ‘Call Of Duty’ games with better execution.
Grade B

Late Gamer Plays Splinter Cell

A Review From Hidai Moya

Ubisoft’s 2002 ‘Splinter Cell’ got so many things right in its series debut that much of it still holds up well 17 years & 3 gaming generations later.
It has an outstanding atmospheric tone with its use of light & shadow, hilarious “Kafka”esque writing, a fantastic stoic main character in “Sam Fisher” who was perfectly voice cast, by Michael Ironside, & an interesting espionage story.
This is a serious stealth game that leaves no room for error and offers no forgiveness for any mistakes. You have to move & operate like an invisible ninja to defeat your target & obtain classified data. In many ways it’s like the best “Mission Impossible” game we never got.
That being said what has aged terribly is its very cumbersome platforming mechanics which require exact positioning & are often frustrating to pull off in the heat of the moment. Some of the unwritten rules of the game, that you can shoot lights off, don’t always apply either, leaving for some frustrating moments & sometimes the checkpoint systems can be terribly flawed.
In the end though its the execution of the concept that is still impressive. Very few things in gaming have the type of sex appeal as Fisher grabbing someone by the head and pulling them into the dark at the point of a gun.
Grade B

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