Transmissions from Lexington Comic & Toy Convention 2017

Another year, another trek into the hallowed halls of Rupp Arena to aimlessly wander the floor of the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. What wonders would I encounter this year? Would I see any familiar faces? Would I finally ask every former Power Ranger to the big dance? THE ANSWERS ARE INSIDE.

I got a couple press passes this year, so me and my wife – a great photographer and the best person in the world – decided to act super professional.

These are our professional faces.

We were greeted by the two-story-tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He was still smiling, which meant those darn Ghostbusters hadn’t tried to turn him into marshmallow goo just yet. He was still living his best life. And now he was here, frozen in time and greeting all who entered the doors. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

As we descended to the main floor, we came across a set-up from Star Wars. Okay, so it may have been less a “set-up” and more a “thieving ring.” Any unsuspecting soul who found themselves lingering in the area were swarmed by a pack of Jawas. Within minutes, anything electronic on their person had been removed from their pockets while the Jawas fought among each other for possession of the object. Anyone who decided to try to reclaim what they felt was rightfully theirs was treated to the barrel of an AT-ST’s gun pointed in their direction.

Look man. If you’ve seen A New Hope, you know what the Jawas are about. You only have yourselves to blame.

Did we encounter any other Star Wars folks? We may have seen a few.

General Leia Organa and Rey were travelling around together and they happened to run into an Imperial Officer. Instead of fighting right there in the middle of the isle, they decided to put aside their differences and pose for a picture.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Leia and Rey escorted the officer to a dark corner and disposed of him. Imperial scum.

I’ve often said that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Xena: Warrior Princess would make a good couple. Now I have proof.

I originally thought that this was Old Man Luke Skywalker, but the robes indicated that he was Obi-Wan. THE ROBES NEVER LIE.

As you can see in this picture, we encountered the fearsome Kylo Ren with very few people around. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. He lit up his lightsaber and we briefly froze. We decided our best defense was to laugh at him, talk loudly about how he’s just a wannabe Vader and repeatedly referred to him as “Poor Lil’ Bennie.” He began sobbing and ran to the nearest restroom. Ain’t so bad.

Sure, Solo blindly took out one Boba Fett. But two? I don’t think so, bucko. Into the Sarlacc Pit with you while Boba Fett and the missus live a long, happy life together.

You know what I love about Deadpool in terms of cons? Versatility. Sure, you may occasionally get a Captain America or Batman with some variation (usually depending on what era they’re repping), but there’s not a huge difference in the look. But Deadpool? Anyone can be Deadpool and it would fit in with the character and the comics.

Take this little tyke. He’s just a tiny little Deadpool and he’s wearing Batman shoes. They’re not even in the same comic universe, but I believe that, somewhere, Deadpool owns a pair of Batman shoes.

Cowboy Deadpool. I have absolutely seen Deadpool in this outfit. Throw this version of Marshal Will Kane in High Noon and that movie would have been over in 10 minutes.

I love this one. Deadpool Dixon and Carl Grimes. Deadpool is rocking Daryl’s vest – down to the angel wings on the back – and crossbow, but is still very much Deadpool.

Spider-Man would look out of place in something like this, but Deadpool can pull it off.

It has been a while since I’ve watched an episode of The Walking Dead, so it’s quite possible Daryl Dixon is actually just Deadpool now. If that’s the case, I need someone to tell me so I can start watching that show again.

I don’t love the idea of Alice teaming up with the Umbrella Corporation, but I assume there’s a good reason behind it. Maybe they’re infiltrating Umbrella so a couple of her friends are wearing stolen outfits? They would pick out Alice in a hurry in that dress, but she’s got superpowers so I guess that doesn’t matter too much.

Whatever your reason, Alice, I trust your judgment completely.

Of everyone I ran into, this was my favorite costume. It’s all the little touches. The jagged horns that look like have been torn off. The cigar she kept with her at all times. The beer in the hand. It’s all wonderful. It’s all perfect.

The dragon in the background is giving some serious side eye in this picture. Hellboy (Hellgirl?) picked up on that and smacked him around a bit after I took this picture. Negan – big, bad Negan – just cowered in the corner as it happened. He may be the big man during a zombie apocalypse, but he’s useless as a dragon caretaker.

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

You don’t say.

I’m a sucker for a good themed costume, and this one is perfect. They have the banner. They have the coconuts. They have the Rabbit of Caerbannog. While walking the floor, I could occasionally hear the tapping of coconuts in the distance. When they exited the building, I heard the familiar call of “Run away! Run away!”

The children didn’t seem too interested in crime-fighting, so I walked by them with my guard down. I found out that was a mistake when they both took billy clubs and smashed them into my knees. While I writhed on the ground, the group calmly walked away, silently laughing to themselves.

Never underestimate the strength of children.

Even without one sock, this child is infinitely more incredible than I will ever be.

We found Lego Batman at the base of the escalator. For the life of me, I don’t know how he was able to actually get on the escalator. For all I know, he’s still standing down there.

There is a whole lot of awesomeness in this picture, but it’s Little Hulk that really kills me. Really going all-out with the flex there, Hulk. I would absolutely watch a movie starring this version of Hulk and Black Widow. She looks like she is absolutely ready to brawl.

We’ve got the Spider trio of Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Silk. We also have Ant Man and Wasp. And there, in the middle of it all, is Squirrel Girl. I honestly thought I would see a handful of Squirrel Girls, but we only ran into this one, and she was terrific. Always happy. She seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and to have people excited to take pictures of her. She may have actually been the real Squirrel Girl, stepped directly out of the pages of a comic and into our world.

Of course, I found it a little irresponsible for all these heroes to pose for a picture while Kylo Ren casually strolled behind them. Way to keep humanity safe, you guys. You’ve been through superhero training and this is the best you can do? Shame on you. Shame on you.

I can’t imagine that Ice Man outfit is comfortable, but it looks amazing. Fashion over function, my dear boy.

Let’s talk about the act of going to a comic convention for a second. This is a ridiculously cool costume. We took this picture in the main opening, so there’s a little bit of space of maneuver, but the main floor is packed. I have a hard enough time getting through some of the aisles as a regular human being. How does one make their way through the swarm of bodies when you are a god who has arms sticking out on either side of you? Do you just not go to the main floor? Or do you make peace with the fact that you’ll just smack a lot of people in the face with your extra arms and they’ll have to deal with it?

I’ve often thought about following one of these people around to see what they do, but I have a feeling I would just get really frustrated. That life isn’t for me. But for her? Man, she looks so cool she can do whatever she wants.

Even Blade has to take a break to check his messages every now and then. That’s probably how he finds out where all the vampires are. He just searches for #vampirerave and goes from there. Vampires never learn, man. Not everything has to go on social media, you know.

Bunch of suckheads.

I’ll grant you that I haven’t been to a ton of conventions, but I’ve been attending them for a few years now and this is the first time I’ve seen Green Goblin and Cyclops. Those are fairly well-known characters, so I was a bit shocked this was the first time I had seen either of them.

Kudos to Batman for repping the gun. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m perfectly fine with Batman shooting some supervillains from time-to-time. Call me crazy, but I don’t think The Joker is going to suddenly become reformed after his 1,000,000th trip to Arkham Asylum.

I’d watch a team-up of these two.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I would only watch it if Punisher killed the Power Ranger 5 minutes into the movie. The Power Rangers were a bit after my time so I have no love for them. I’m old. I can’t help it.

“I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you / For all my liiiiiiiiiife…”

The moment Michael realizes he left Jason chained at the bottom of the lake.

Where else can you see Doctor Strange riding an escalator behind a T. Rex? I mean, besides my dreams every night.

We only got a chance to attend one panel, but it was a fun one. We’re pretty big fans of iZombie, so we had to make sure we caught this one. Sadly, Rose McIver had to pull out of the convention, but we got to hear some great stories from Aly Michalka and Malcolm Goodwin.

Every year I say I’m going to go to more panels, and every year I forget. I’ve never been to a bad one, though. If you go to a convention, always make sure to do some research ahead of time and try to get to at least a couple panels.

 

Last but certainly not least, there is always a lot of great art. If I had unlimited funds and wall space, I would walk out of every convention with a truck full of art. Some of it is mass manufactured, but there is always a ton of unique, handmade art.

This Peach/Mario take on Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster is one of my favorite things I’ve seen. I’m still kicking myself for not buying it.

I did walk out with this piece of art, though. We have a daughter who is getting ready to turn two and we’re looking for art for her room. I’ve been looking for Batgirl and Spider-Gwen stuff, because I’d love to get her started on some strong, female superheroes. As it so happened, Rico Renzi – colorist for the Spider-Gwen series – was at the convention this year. I stopped by his table and this immediately grabbed my eye. Rico was incredibly nice and gracious, and now I have this nice piece of art of start my daughter’s collection.


Conventions are always exhausting but we always have a blast. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Paper Cuts: Vampirella Part 1

Mark Millar. Grant Morrison. Warren Ellis. James Robinson. Kurt Busiek. Alan Moore. Jeph Loeb. Amanda Conner. Jimmy Palmiotti. Tim Sale.

If I told you all those comic legends have given their talent to the same character that has been around for nearly 50 years, would you be able to guess the character? With all those creators working on the same property, you may think that it was a classic, iconic comic that currently dominates toy shelves and the big screen.

This icon was introduced in 1969 – just six years after, Avengers #1 – but she was not wearing tights. She was clad in a skin tight, red bikini.  It was the comics’ most infamous vampire, Vampirella.

It is hard to imagine that so many creators have worked on her over the years, yet the book for most comic circles goes relatively unnoticed in most comic circles.

For this very special edition of Paper Cuts, I wanted to tackle a couple issues of Vampirella in honor of Vampirella #0 which hit shelves last week and relaunch her series yet again.

Vampirella: Monthly Series Preview Edition #1 (Harris)

This could be arguably the most iconic team to work on the title. Grant Morrison and Mark Millar on writing duties, with art provided by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.  While this was only a preview, the sole purpose of this was to get readers on board with the new launch and new direction of Vampirella.

The Amanda Conner art was clearly before the full height of her artistic powers, but still wonderful to marvel over. Her classic cartooning is very present, but the dark inks and heavy shadow cover the art, when they should have been highlighting her line work.

The story was engaging and felt more like a noir instead of your standard horror affair.

If you can find this preview issue and were looking to get into Vampirella, this is the perfect jumping on point. While it honors the continuity placed on it from years of storytelling before, the story is easy to follow for a new reader and gives you a fun timeline to follow in the back.  There are also interviews with the entire creative team.

Had this been the first issue I picked up of Vampirella ever, I may have been converted to a regular reader.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Vampirella #0 (Dynamite)

The newest launch for Vampirella is written by Paul Cornell, who has written everything from Wolverine to Doctor Who. He also follows in the steps of classic Vampirella writers being from over the pond.  Jimmy Broxton tackles the art duties. He has worked with former series artist, Jimmy Palmiotti.

While this preview issue certainly sets the stage, it trots out one of my least favorite tropes: characters referencing their old continuity as a literal storybook of their past. While it will work once in a while with more tongue and cheek books like Die Kitty Die, here it felt a bit a forced.

Overall, the story does not give much away as far as the direction this book is going to head in so it is hard to grab one and really want more solely based on this issue alone which makes it a bit of a stumble. However, it is well-written with enough intrigue that it should be able to hook people who were interested in the series in the first place, whether that be a long time fan or someone discovering the character for the first time.

I really enjoyed the art, which had the very same aesthetic as the classic vampire comic, 30 Days of Night. It also felt like it belonged in the film universe of Day Watch and Night Watch. It’s a credit to Broxton that he is able to give a feel to the book so quickly in a short page count.

This zero issue also is packed full of interviews in the back. Unfortunately they are for all other books not named Vampirella.

Overall, it is hard to argue against buying this book since it carries a cover price of $0.25.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Stay tuned for next week, when we take a look into a couple other re-launches of Vampirella, as well as some classic anthology stories.

Paper Cuts: 2/6/17

Aliens: Defiance #9 (Dark Horse)

The last time I checked in with the Aliens series was during the initial launch of the Prometheus line back in 2014.  It is not that those comics were bad, but there were a bit wordy. If I remember correctly, it was just not compelling enough to keep reading after the first several issues.

I rarely will mention cover art in these reviews, but it was beautiful, dark, and creepy.  It was drawn by Stephanie Hans whom I have enjoyed since she first appeared in the interior of a Superior Spider-Man one shot.  Hans has a water color, painted style that is soothing and haunting.

Brian Wood continues to be one of the most workman, versatile writers in the entire comic industry.  Wood can write post-apocalyptic landscapes, Viking and Revolutionary warriors, and major two characters as well as anyone else.  All of these previous stints make Wood the perfect writer for a well thought-out Alien series.  This book had all the markings of what has made the series a lasting icon.  A small desperate cast, an emotionless android, government schemes, and the lurking notion that an xenomorph is lurking on a ship in cold black space.

The interior art is not only great on its own merits, but compliments the story well.  It was done by Wood’s long time DMZ collaborator Tony Brescini.  Each character wears their emotions, or lack of, on their face across the entire book and could tell a story even without any dialogue.  Brescini’s art in this book is simple and compelling.

Not only am I looking forward to issue number 10, but also looking forward and going back and catching up on the entire series.  If one main reason for licensed properties is to get readers to further engage in the universe, anyone who reads this book will be lining up at the doors of the theaters in May.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Quick Cuts:

Zenescope launched the third volume of Grimm Tales of Terror.  It was standard affair for that series with serviceable art and Tales of Crypt one shot storytelling.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

Spell on Wheels from Dark Horse delivered a lackluster issue in what was one of my favorite miniseries of the years. I’m hoping the final issue delivers like the first three issues.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

 

She Wolf from Image launched a new arc with #5 and the art alone is worth a read, but this entire series is worth catching up on as well.  The best comparison would be a cross between Archie and Twin Peaks.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Paper Cuts: 2/2/17

Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel)

In a rare treat, a proper Marvel U book makes it to this week’s reviews.

If you are a fan of strange monsters appearing from nowhere and causing total havoc, this comic will scratch the Godzilla-sized itch you need to have scratched.

If you are or were a fan of Marvel comics, then this comic feeds that hunger.

The premise is very simple: giant kaiju monsters are falling from the sky.  Every team across the Marvel Universe looks to defeat them with their own signatures that every fan can recognize.  For readers who are not current, it also serves as a very soft reintroduction to the current state of the Marvel universe without beating you over the head with it.

Steve McNiven on art is simply breathtaking.  His monsters are weird while maintaining the wackiness of horror monsters from the 1970s and before.  In the wrong hands this book would come across as ridiculous, but it manages to take the most absurd and turn it into threatening, real life danger for all the Marvel Universe.

There is also a little bit of mystery built into the storytelling with Else Bloodstone – the Monster Hunter – interesting and compelling even when there are not giant monsters tearing up major cities.

This is an absolutely amazing, cross-genre mash up that is great for kaiju horror fans, kids who love current Marvel comics and everyone in between.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Hook Jaw #2 (Titan)

You had me at shark.  The combination of sharks and comics – while not the easiest to execute – is the easiest sale to me that you will ever make.

Yet,  Hook Jaw is a baffling book.  While there were no hints that it was not taking itself seriously in issue #1, in this issue, it beats the reader over the head with the unsubtle self-awareness.  It mentions that Hook Jaw was once a 1970s comic book.  It highlights the fact that the hard-assed, no-nonsense character is pulled straight from an 80s movie.  It then proceeds to bring in every trope under the sun; from dolphin loving hippies to CIA conspiracies.  There is nothing to grab onto from a character or writing standpoint. Without those things, it just makes this a mindless book about sharks

If you are going to have a mindless book about sharks, the art needs to be so amazing and captivating that it can overcome a lack of a coherent story or poor writing, but the art is passable at best.

I do not like to judge books so harshly, but it’s hard not to compare this to White. Between these two shark books, one is clearly superior to the other, and Hook Jaw most definitely does not win that battle.

Ratings: 2 out of 5

Ex Mortis #1 (451 Media)

While this first issue was released back in November, the third issue comes out this week on Friday, so I thought I’d circle back and highlight this series. It’s always good to check out these smaller independent books.

There is nothing earth shatteringly original about this book.  If you are a fan of Hellboy and the BPRD, Marvel’s The Howling Commandos, or DC’s Frankenstein: Agent of Shade, this books follows in that tradition.  It’s World War 2 and monsters are being developed and deployed from both sides.

The art in this book is black and white, and is rather well done.  The artist clearly has an affinity for Jeff Lemire’s shading style.  Sometimes the line work came across as unfinished, but that could be because this was a PDF format from the publisher and not the finished comic.  The only other critique is that there was a lot of ink on the board, and I’m not sure it added anything special to the art.

Overall, absolute fun story and good art.  Give this series a read.

Check it out here.

Ratings: 3.5 out 5

Paper Cuts: 1/30/17

 

Richard Corben’s Shadows on the Grave #2 (Dark Horse)

This book still stands out with beautiful black and white, classic horror style art.

The first issue’s strength were the chapters coming before the main overarching tale. This issue’s strength came from the ongoing and absolutely terrifying and brutal art of the Cyclops monster.

This book is for any fan of classic horror art or films like Jason and the Argonauts.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

 

Norman: The First Slash #2 (Titan)

Norman is a series imported from Europe about an 8-year-old serial killer.  It is a blend of Dexter and Invader Zim.  The premise and art lends itself to be something you would see on an Adult Swim line up.

Overall, the book is a lot of fun with bright colors that really keep the book light-hearted and humorous despite the subject matter.

The only critique is that before learning this book was translated, the dialogue felt off and I believe that is because the first language was not English, but it was still very enjoyable overall.

If you never read any of the European Editions of this series, you can hop on with issue #1 of The First Slash and be fine.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

Die Kitty Die #4 (Chapter House)

The arc finished and I still cannot say enough good things about this series.

It was my favorite mini-series of 2016.  While issue #4 was a little less tongue-in-cheek and a little more adult, it still was extremely enjoyable.  The pinups and fake ads in this issue make this a must pick up for any comic art enthusiast.

I am looking forward to the next installment: Die, Kitty, Die: Hollywood or Bust, arriving in May 2017. Make sure to pre-order!

Ratings: 4 out 5

White #2 (1First Comics / Devil’s Due)

One of the strengths of this book may actually be the digital format.  The storyboard format helps build the suspense of what lurks in the water below.

On top of the sharks circling below our main character, there is another mystery happening which compels you to keep reading and wondering what is happening.

Sharks and comics are hard, but this series is really nailing it.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

Quick Cuts:

Hook Jaw #1 (Titan) was released, and, after reading White, it fell just a little flat.  It felt more like a Jaws: The Revenge or Deep Blue Sea.  Enjoyable, but missing some suspense.

Nailbiter #28 from Image Comics came out last week. It was another fantastic issue. The series is wrapping up with issue #30 and if you have not jumped on at this point, now is not the time to do it.  Check out the first trade for $10 on Amazon or at your local comic shop.  Be on the lookout while we try and celebrate the series once it has concluded!