Comic Culture With Rafa #002

That Important Spider-Man Story Everyone Should Read
By Rafa Encinas

With the recent interest in Spider-Man at an all time high, especially after the popularity of Insomniac’s Spider-Man video game, the success of the Into The Spider-Verse movie, and the insanity of the Spider-Geddon comic event, I think it is time for new fans and old fans alike to venture into some of the quintessential stories that got us to this point. That is why I highly recommend J. Michael Straczynski’s “Coming Home” (2001) story from his run of The Amazing Spider-Man (issues #30-35).

First and foremost, this is super hero storytelling at its finest. When I first picked it up, I was expecting just another flashy Spider-Man story. Something that would be fun, but overall probably forgettable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of those stories that hit hard, and ultimately actually set up a lot for future stories. We get the introduction of the enigmatic Ezekiel and the unstoppable Morlun, the concept of totems and the supernatural, as well as a huge reveal as the story comes to a close.

This adventure hits hard because the action is nonstop. If you are looking for some Spider-Man action fights, then this is the story for you. The inner monologue and desperation that comes from Peter as he trades blows with Morlun feels important and showcases the internal grit and perseverance that the Spider-Man character embodies. There are actual stakes to this battle, and you see the inner turmoil and despair Peter is facing. You do not get the usual banter. It feels serious. This is also expertly complimented by Romita Jr.’s art style which always seems to work best for the Spider-Man character.

But besides the superhero slugfest that this comic details, there is also real heart in Peter’s personal life. The reader gets to see him create something for himself. He pays it forward by becoming a high school teacher. He attempts to do more than just be a superhero. The high school sequences are endearing and actually produces a powerful sequence in which there is a school shooting; something that is unfortunately very familiar for our current times.  And this is important because Spider-Man always feels relevant. This story further solidifies it.

And that is why it is with great pride that I recommend this story to all fans of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It feels important, and it showcases exactly why Peter Parker is such an endearing character. It accurately portrays the magic in being responsible and in holding oneself to a higher standard. And luckily, Spider-Man can reach those higher stands. It helps when you have the agility and web slinging prowess of a spider.

George Perez: The Man Who Survived A Crisis And The Infamous Snap

An Editorial From Christopher Franey

We are in witness to the ending of an era now that George Perez has announced his retirement from comics.  Now before we get to a sad moment, let us look at it this way…he is going out on his terms. Lots of writers, artists, editors, and many others get fired or downsized and their job is gone; George made it to the finish line and the best part is he will still be there at Conventions when he can, so you too can meet this amazing giant who is responsible for gather Titans and Avengers, showing us the darkest of evils, and some amazing eye candy along the way.


    George was born June 9th of 1954, to family who hailed from Puerto Rico, in New York City which is probably where he gained his enjoyment of drawing big crowds of people and heroes.  The man is known mostly for his art skills but he is also a great collaborator and has written stories on his own as well. He has made major impact on the big two of comics, DC & Marvel, along with helping to bring about independent comics from companies such as CrossGen and Gorilla Comics.  I will try to give you a nice tour of his time at DC, Marvel, and his Independent works as well. I can honestly say that Mr. Perez is my favorite artist of all time, his drawings are iconic and the man is a great pleasure to meet, so full of life and discussion. I was lucky to have met him at SDCC back in 2004 and he gave me a Hal Jordan sketch…I’ll admit I was very nervous as this was meeting a superstar and I was the guy holding the last in line sign at DC’s booth, so I was worried I might not get much time with him, but we talked and he sketched.

    His first professional gig as an artist was penciling Marvel
Comics’ Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug ’74) working on Deathlok.  
This helped him out to being a regular for Marvel and working on
such titles as Sons of the Tiger, Creature on the Loose, Inhumans,
Fantastic Four, and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and while on that
title he created the first Puerto Rican superhero, White Tiger.  

Image result for white tiger george perez

    Now the big moment came with Avengers #141 in George became the artist of Marvel’s premier team.  This got him on big teams of colorful characters and also allowed him to have fun with characters such as Beast and Wonder Man, building their friendship.  With his Avengers membership, he drew the first part of Jim Shooter’s epic Korvac Saga featuring every Avenger at the time and co-created Taskmaster with David Michelinie.  While working on Fantastic Four Annual 14, this would partner him up with Marv Wolfman and forge a creative duo of massive legend, but we’ll talk more about that later.

    George would return to Marvel several times, in 1991 he would pencil the crossover event Infinity Gauntlet for Jim Starlin, but troubles from his DC event, War of the Gods, would cause him to not finish the Gauntlet.  Unfortunately this would cause a bad reputation as him not finishing projects, but luckily that would be disproven with future works. Later in the 90’s he would draw Hulk: Future Imperfect for Peter David and have another shot at the Avengers with Kurt Busiek; which in my opinion is something you should read on your bucket list.  

    DC Comics would also get the two creators, Wolfman & Perez, to revitalize the younger heroes with their launch of The New Teen Titans.  George also got a chance to be artist on Justice League of America after the famous Dick Dillin’s passing. His works for the distinguished competition helped to get him popular with fans.  Since George was a household name it was logical for him to partner up with Marv Wolfman for the big 50th anniversary event, DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.  As the event hyped, “worlds will live, worlds will die, and the DC Universe will never be the same!”  With this event not only did George draw some amazing splash pages, co-create the evil Anti-Monitor, he also drew pretty much most of DC’s catalogue of characters.  To add to his Crisis’ fallout works for DC he also drew the History of the DC Universe and inked Curt Swan’s last issue of Silver Age Superman for Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

    Now with those big DC events, George would have a major hand in the 87 reboot of Wonder Woman.  Greg Potter was the writer and George came along to join in as plotter and penciler, then eventually taking on full scripting for WW.  His run is very much a strong basis for the character that we see in modern times and it connected her to the Greek Gods even more; which I’m sure we will see some of his work on the big screen with the sequal to Wonder Woman’s movie.  Perez would return to the New Teen Titans with issue 50 and help build a new origin for Wonder Girl due to her having some troubles from Crisis. While with the Titans this would get him working with Marv again and together they would be reshaping some of the Batman mythos, esepcially with Dick Grayson.  The Batman Year Three story explored the Post-Crisis origin of Dick Grayson in which George drew the covers for and then did pencils for the story of A Lonely Place of Dying which would tie in with the New Teen Titans and give use the third Robin, Tim Drake; kind of making him the uncle to that Robin. I would high recommend reading Year Three (Batman 436-439) and A Lonely Place of Dying (Batman 440-442, New Titans 60 & 61).

    Perez would then go onto Post-Crisis Superman by being a part of Action Comics and Adventures of Superman.  Before the Crisis, Perez would be responsible for the Battle suit look of Lex Luthor, but in Post-Crisis Luthor went all Business suit instead.  George would get the chance to create a cross over in the New DC universe with War of the Gods spinning out of his Wonder Woman book, which was a great battle between the Greek Gods and Roman Gods, thus pitting Wonder Woman against Captain Marvel (Shazam); this also served as a 50th anniversary for Wonder Woman.  Unfortunately, as mentioned before, there was a major monkey wrench between George and DC Editorial at the time causing a split for DC and Perez.  Finally in ’96, Perez would return to Teen Titans with Dan Jurgens as his inker, since at this time he was the artist for Avengers with Busiek. The best is almost here…JLA/Avengers!

    Back in 1979 DC and Marvel were all set to give us the big matchup between their two greatest teams with Gerry Conway writing and George Perez as artist, but again with Editorial disputes the book was cancelled.  Sadly due to that cancellation we also lost the sequel to Uncanny X-men and New Teen Titans. Perez had already started working on pages of art for the big showdown, but we wouldn’t see for over two decades, or luckily for our younger fans, in the late nineties.  Perez was also working for independent comics but managed to keep a clause in his contract that would let him work on the JLA/Avengers crossover should it happen, and when it did George returned. He and Kurt Busiek created a tour de force of both universes and managed to feature every member of the two teams, even Wolverine (who wasn’t an Avenger at the time).  The cover to issue three is such a sight to see and George stated that it almost killed as he was so focused on it and forgot about his medication. Now you don’t need to know all about DC and Marvel but there are so many Easter Eggs that it helps, plus it has such great character moments that you should read this 4-issue crossover. Here is that beautiful cover:

    While at DC George would work on the Crisis sequel, Infinite Crisis, a new run of The Brave and The Bold, and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds; which gave us the return of Conner Kent Superboy and Bart Allen Impuse, who both have recently returned to the Post-Rebirth DCU.  Perez would help to launch the New 52 Superman in the self-titled book but again issues with editorial made it a frustration to work on. Wolfman and Perez would reunite to give us the graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games and Perez would work as artist on the New 52 version of Worlds’ Finest.  

    When George Perez wasn’t working for the big 2 companies he worked for various independent comics such as Malibu (drawing Break-Thru & Ultraforce), Tekno Comix (I-Bots), and Topps Comics (Jurassic Park). While at Event Comics he was able to have more creator owned projects such as Crimson Plague but sadly the project wasn’t finished, there was an attempt over at Gorilla Comics, but was too costly.  Over at CrossGen he worked on the CrossGen Chronicles and Solus, but cost was once again a factor and the company closed. Luckily at BOOM! Studios he has found fun and success with his own creation Sirens.

    George has won various awards as the Eagle Award, an Inkpot Award, Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Awards, and Jack Kirby Awards.  Several of his works continue to make many website’s “Best of” lists and his images are very universal due to his distinct art style.  We at Geek Elite Radio wish George the best in life and health now that he is retired and many great adventures with his wife Carol Flynn.  So dear reader if you get a chance to meet George Perez treat yourself and meet a fan who became a legend. Read on and Excelsior!

Late Gamer Plays “Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars By Hidai Moya

Lego’s “CLONE WARS” game is even better than the original SW Lego game. It perfectly captures the impromptu style of adventure the animated series is known for. Among the things that are noticeably improved over the original SW game is the music & visually impressive & creative boss fights. They involve multiple duels in different settings each with a unique twist. Surprisingly however one of the best things about this game is the inclusion of a Galactic Assault mode. It’s a seemingly simple yet challenging RTS battlefield where you have to take out enemy artillery with all sorts of weapons & vehicles at your disposable but in LEGO form which makes its twice as fun. This game is in many ways the runt of SW games. It may not be Battlefront or KOTR but as far as a Lego game is concerned this is among their very best. Grade A-

My Night with Marilyn By: Daniel Barroso

My Night with Marilyn.
By: Daniel Barroso
On Wednesday January 10th, my girlfriend and I went to the highly anticipated Marilyn Manson concert. It was highly anticipated because he was supposed to perform at the Arizona State fair in October, but due to some technical, and health issues Mr. Manson had to reschedule. What had happened is he had two giant prop guns that were hanging on the stage that were used as set pieces. What multiple media outlets have stated, and reported is that at one point he climbed unto one of the set pieces rode it like a horse, rocked it back and forth, jumped off, and continued to give his performance. However, during mid song, the set piece became lose, knocked him in the back off the head which caused Marilyn to fly off the stage, and hit the guard railing where he broke his ankle. In panic, the band continued to play for 15 minutes before the ambulance carried an unconscious Marilyn to the ER.
Following these events, the rest of the North American tour titled “The Heaven Upside Down Tour” named after his newest album was rescheduled (all tickets were honored at the rescheduled date for those who were still interested in seeing him. Due to the accident, the concert was also moved to a bigger venue so more tickets were sold). Phoenix was the first city on the rescheduled tour so you could tell fans were excited. With original tickets being honored, and additional tickets being sold, this was a sold-out show, and it was a packed house. The venue it got moved to was “The Van Buren” which is a new music venue that opened its doors August 2017. The Venue holds about 1,800-2,400 people which is not bad. It also features a “Mezzanine” level which allows for a better view of the stage and GA pit. If you’re there solely for the performance, and don’t really want to dance (since the venue also hosts EDM shows) or want to get shoved around while people try to get closer to the stage, then I would recommend paying the extra money so you can enjoy yourself and get the Mezzanine area since it is an elevated open concept balcony that leaves plenty of room to walk around, dance if you choose to, and last but not least it is also a seated section. For this show I would have been fine with either the Mezzanine, or the GA Pit. The GA area was not bad, it did just suck at certain points because I’m a guy who is 5’6 and I had trouble seeing the stage due to everyone around me being significantly taller. No one at this show was too rowdy which was a plus. I did get taken out of the element in certain points just since other attendees shoved me out of the way so they could get closer to the front. Just a few more complaints about the venue would be with such a big artist like this why put him in a venue that is so intimate? To be honest I feel like it was a disservice to both the fans, and the artist. At a place so small, I wouldn’t mind seeing someone like “The Pretty Reckless” since they’re still an Indy upcoming band.
After a bit of waiting around, and a few drinks in 9:15 PM hits, the pre-recorded intro starts, and we hear Marilyn say “Phoenix, fucking sing it!” the curtain drops and there he is in a motorized wheel chair with an upside down cross. At this point I thought that he was going to perform sitting down the hole time which I had no problem with, but the next song he talks to us a bit saying how he got fucked up from his stage antics, and once he’s done with story time he stands up to sing his next song. After that song he sits back down, and the band automatically plays into the next song. The band, and of course Marilyn were all fantastic even with Marilyn having to alternate between songs from standing to sitting since his foot was still in a half cast, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much pain he was in by putting pressure on hit foot. My complaint with the show is that maybe he jumped the gun, and should’ve waited until he fully healed to kick off the rest of his tour. Some song transitions did drag due to the fact that he had some costume changes, or there where set changes and the band had to clear out, and then come back on stage once the set pieces, or props were set in place. The set was a nice mix of all of his hits, and a few of the newer stuff from his new album. I will add that I felt robbed, and I say this because in the other cities before the accident they performed a total of 20 songs including the encore, while we only got 14 including the encore, and yes it may be a bit insensitive for me to complain about that but we had tickets to see this band perform, I was hoping to get the same courtesy/show they gave other cities, and once again is why I wish he waited to full recover. Overall it was a good time, and surprisingly his voice held out through the entire performance. Another reason why I’m going to rank this show a bit higher than other concerts is because Marilyn had three big things happen on this tour: 1) His longtime guitarist/bassist was accused of sexual misconduct so Marilyn fired him. 2) his very good friend, and one of the founding members Daisy Berkowitz passed away after a long tough battle with cancer. 3) Marilyn became injured and had to postpone the tour. Taking these things into consideration I will give this show 6 beautiful people out of 10 beautiful people.

Chris’ Comic Book Corner – X-Men Hope Trilogy

X-men Hope Trilogy
Messiah Complex – Messiah War – Second Coming

First off, there will be spoilers…in the early 90’s the X-men were their own universe of comics to crossover with; we had a group of books with Uncanny, X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, Excalibur and X-men. Sometimes all or most of the books would cross over and we would have some amazing story arcs with: X-tinction Agenda, X-Cutioner’s Song, Fatal Attractions, Age of Apocalypse, Onslaught Saga, and Operation: Zero Tolerance. Things kind of stopped after 2000’s the Twelve and Eve of Destruction as that era of X-men ended and we got Grant Morrison’s run in which the characters were still connected but the books were not. With this change we had seen the X-men go to Hollywood and then a new version would come about, black leather; and some story arcs would return like the love triangle between Scott Summers, Jean Grey-Summers, and Logan, but now a new player had entered Emma Frost, the White Queen.
With Grant Morrison’s run we did see some amazing things, but it almost felt as if these were a different set of X-men and their adventures were well far removed from the Marvel Universe. The Mutants were also getting to be more in numbers so they no longer felt like they were pitted with their backs to the wall, but in New X-men issue 115, that changed as Cassandra Nova destroyed the island of Genosha and a lot of Mutants were killed. So now that the number of Mutants had been scaled back and Grant Morrison left the comic it was time for the X-men to get Astonishing. Joss Whedon started a book called Astonishing X-men as part of the X-men ReLoad revamp. This got the X-men back into costumes, had them interact with more Marvel characters, and be heroic looking again (well worth a read as it is 25 issues, 1—24 and a Giant Size).
That successful relaunch and Brian Bendis’ launch of New Avengers meant a crossover had to happen…House of M. The core 8-issue series starts off with asking what should be done with the Scarlet Witch who was responsible for the Avengers Disassembled story. Was she going crazy like her father, Magneto? Then her family helps her escape to a fantasy world, House of M, where the Mutants were the dominant species and Magneto was the unquestioned ruler. By the end of the limited series the Scarlet Witch was tired of being used by everyone and casted a spell, “No More Mutants.” With that the number of Mutants in the Marvel universe was down to less than 200.
Something had to change for the X-men line of books. They were too separated and it had seemed that there were back on the extinction list…so there was a birth. Hope (literally) had entered the lives of the X-men in the Messiah Complex which united the X-books and had Cyclops lead the X-men in order to prevent the Marauders, Acolytes, Reavers, Purifiers, and Predator X from getting the newly born Mutant. As a fan reading this as it came out, I was super excited as I was reliving the X-men from my younger years and it was a grand story of life, death, and extinction. Of course there were twists and turns, but the big reveal that Bishop would be a bad guy and want to kill a Mutant was intense, then of course there were connections to Jean and the Phoenix, so anything to do with the Summers family has me excited.
After the baby had been secured by the good guys, she was taken into the future by Cable; which was very much reminiscent of Cable’s origins as well. There she was raised to be a soldier and fight on no matter what was happening, and this world was not a better place. Meanwhile whenever they could get a moment it was of course broken by Bishop hunting them down. The Messiah War finally had some reinforcements come by way of the clandestine X-Force team, which was very proactive in their missions. They now had to help out and face off against a horrendous future, Stryfe, and Apocalypse. Stryfe is a clone of Cable and is a tragic villain in the X-men storylines, but it was great to see him return and now knowing how sinister he would be this made the stakes that much higher. For once Apocalypse would be helpful and did something beneficial for Cable and Hope.
Now the time had come for Hope to return, the Second Coming. This story arc was now at a fever pitch…Cyclops, X-Force, Utopia all of it coming to a head and some people weren’t liking the way the X-men were separating themselves and their actions; even some of the X-men too. Hope and Cable had returned and this time they had to face off a coalition of the worst Humankind had to offer: Bastion, Stephen Lang, Bolivar Trask, William Stryker, Graydon Creed, and Cameron Hodge. This was HUGE as these were some of the best and longest running Human villains in the X-men comics and now they were together. This was the “be all, end all” of X-men comics for me. This story took place all over America as we desperately watch Cable and Hope go from the Mansion in Westchester County, NY to Utopia near San Francisco, CA.
The moments between characters was what drew me to this story, Cyclops and his interactions between Nightcrawler and Beast were some of the biggest as we saw their friendship be tested. Faith was a theme constant to this story. I remember going into the comic shop every week to get the newest issue in the story and it was well worth it, Marvel had brought out their best. This is the trilogy that brought the X-men back and on track. You can of course read the trades/hard covers for Messiah Complex, Messiah War, and Second Coming, but I’ve put together a map for you that will give you that experience but also some extra. Get to your favorite reading spot and enjoy a tour de force of a group of heroes that fight to survive in a world that hates and fears them. (NOTE the comics in italics are suggested as they are more of a character profile book)
Messiah Complex Reading Order

1 X-men: Messiah Complex (2007)
X-men: Messiah Complex Mutant Files
2 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 492
3 X-Factor (Vol 3) 25
4 New X-men (Vol 1) 44
5 X-men (Vol 1) 205
6 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 493
7 X-Factor (Vol 3) 26
8 New X-men (Vol 1) 45
9 X-men (Vol 1) 206
10 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 494
11 X-Factor (Vol 3) 27
12 New X-men (Vol 1) 46
13 X-men (Vol 1) 207

Aftermath (suggested readings)
Uncanny X-men 495 to 500, featuring the move to San Francisco, the X-men reforming, and building Cyclops’ vison of mutant paradise.
Cable (Vol 2, 2008) 1 to 5, showing Cable with baby Hope on the run from a vengeance seeking Bishop.
X-Force (Vol 3) 1 to 6, this is the team that was tasked with finding Hope, now they will also be a proactive team to take down threats to the Mutant race, permanently.
X-men the Lives and Times of Lucas Bishop 1 to 3, gives the readers an insight as to why Bishop is not a believer of Hope like the other X-men are.
Cable (Vol 2, 2008) 11 to 12, Wasteland Blues finally shows Hope asking the questions: who am I and why do people want to hurt me?

Messiah War Reading Order

1 X-Force/Cable: Messiah War
X-men Future History Messiah War Sourcebook
2 Cable (Vol 2) 13
3 X-Force (Vol 3) 14
4 Cable (Vol 2) 14
5 X-Force (Vol 3) 15
6 Cable (Vol 2) 15
7 X-Force (Vol 3) 16

Second Coming Reading Order

1 X-men Hope
2 X-men Second Coming Prepare
3 X-men Second Coming 1
4 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 523
5 New Mutants (Vol 3) 12
6 X-men Legacy 235
7 X-Force (Vol 3) 26
8 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 524
9 New Mutants (Vol 3) 13
10 X-men Legacy 236
11 X-Force (Vol 3) 27
12 Uncanny X-men (Vol 1) 525
13 New Mutants (Vol 3) 14
14 X-men Legacy 237
15 X-Force (Vol 3) 28
16 X-men Second Coming 2
17 Uncanny X-men Heroic Age 1

So make sure to visit Geek Elite Radio’s Facebook page or Twitter and let me know what you think of this trilogy and share your insights, as always…GEEK OUT!