Thought Balloon

Thought Balloon/Review: Valiant Entertainment’s 4001 A.D Summer “Event”

4001-ad-summer-event

A few weeks ago saw the conclusion to Valiant Entertainment’s summer event, 4001 A.D.

First off, let me tell you that I loved this story! I enjoyed everything that Valiant published for the 4001 A.D series, but I just don’t feel that this really qualifies as an “event”, at least in the way that most comic fans are used to.

To start off, let me give you a rundown of how this “event” was organized. The main story, told in 4001 A.D, involves a conflict between Father, the AI the space station that is New Japan, and Rai, Father’s protector over New Japan and his weapon against any who oppose him. You can learn everything leading up to this event in the first 12 issues of Rai, which has been collected in an exquisite hardcover deluxe collection. Without getting into too many specifics, Rai joins forces with the future Gilad, the Eternal Warrior and together they battle their way back onto New Japan and defeat Father, who has succumb to a virus and is separating sections of New Japan and sending them crashing to Earth. If you just want to know about the 4001 A.D storyline, proper, all you really need to read are these 4 issues.

The second story is told within the pages of Rai. Spanning issue 13 through issue 16, we actually get a glimpse into the past and learn about the first Rai, a female Rai and the Rai before our current hero. Overall, these issues have nothing to do with the main “event”, but do help flesh out the setting and show us what some of the other Rai’s were like. Issue 16 is important, because it takes place directly before issue 1 and sets up the entire series.

The last, and mostly fringe, stories are told within the various one-shots that involve the other heroes of the Valiant Universe. In the X-O Manowar issue, we learn about the origin of the X-O Mecha that Rai and Gilad use to get back to New Japan. In the Bloodshot issue, you discover that Bloodshot’s nanites have evolved past their original intent and are being on their own. In the Shadowman issue, we learn about an Earth city with a connection to the Deadside, and the formation of a new Shadow person. Lastly, in War Mother, we’re introduced to a new character, a hunter and scavenger of New Japan tech with a sentient rifle. With the exception of the X-O Manowar and Bloodshot issues, I believe that the stories told in Shadowman and War Mother will become a bigger part of Rai’s world come 4002 A.D.

So, with a third of the “events” issues taking place in the past, and the other third taking place on Earth, in separate communities, I feel that this is not a normal comic “event”. While this doesn’t change my opinion of the overall story or my love affair with Valiant, I feel that comic companies need “events” to sell titles and get comic shops interested in buying odd, random one-shots and new mini-series. I wish comics were in a different place right now, but they aren’t. Marvel is constantly doing massive, for over-reaching “events”, many of which are never completed on time, dragging on for months, while DC keeps reinventing itself in hope of catching up to Marvel’s numbers and sales. With these two big juggernauts out there, I can see why Valiant calls this little story, which takes place in the future of their universe, an “event”, because they need that boost, just to get shelf space.

I’m really, really tired of “events”! I remember when they used to be fun and exciting and rare. I can get behind what Valiant’s doing here, making the “event” accessible, by breaking the story up into groups, so that you don’t have to go broke reading everything, I just wish they would save the word, “event” for something bigger!

 

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Thought Balloon: Celebrating Star Trek

star-trek-50th-anniversary

This past Thursday, September 8th was the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, a property that is very near and dear to my heart. While I didn’t become a “Trekkie/Trekker” until I was already in high school (and Star Trek: The Next Generation had already ended) I quickly devoured everything Star Trek that I could. I stayed away from the novels, which I wasn’t sure was continuity, and mostly stuck with the multiple series, movies and supplemental literature, such as the episode guides and technical manuals. I found the world…er, universe, very interesting and thought provoking, the kind of science fiction that I needed at the time. My first entries into Star Trek were Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and the movie, Star Trek First Contact.

I saw First Contact in the theaters, twice, once with the newly formed Star Trek Club in my high school and once with my dad, who was already a Star Trek fan, but had never pushed it upon me or my other siblings. My local Fox channel was airing DS9 at 5pm on weekdays, so after school I was able to catch up to the current season of DS9, which was airing on UPN (now the CW, after a merger with the WB). So, suffice it to say, after almost 20 years, I’m still the biggest Trekkie/Trekker that I know!

When 2016 kicked on January 1st, I knew that this was Trek’s big five-oh, and I couldn’t be happier! I couldn’t wait for the deluge of 50th Anniversary merchandise: models, die cast vehicles, novels, comics, action figures, collectable stamps and coins. While I haven’t purchased everything that I want, I have selected a few choice pieces to add to my collection, which now includes a Barnes & Noble Hardcover Collection of several TOS scripts, a Mega Bloks (think Legos) Guardian of Forever set, and all of the US and Canadian commemorative stamps, as well as one of the Canadian minted coins. There is still more to come and I can not wait, I just think my wallet wants this to end!

I did enjoy Star Trek Beyond, which was released in theaters this year and stared the crew of the reboot movies. I felt that the movie was great, better than Star Trek into Darkness, but about equal to Star Trek. I can’t wait for it’s release on BluRay, and will definitely pick up the copy with the best “extras”.

Now, as to celebrating Star Trek on it’s birthday, my roommates and I had a mini-marathon of Trek episodes, hand picked by yours truly. We waited until Friday to celebrate, seeing as how most of us are off on the weekends, but on Thursday, we did watch First Contact, and boy is it still as good as I remember. On Friday, we watched 5 episodes, one from each Trek series, accompanied by an ‘adult’ beverage, most of our own concoction. The episodes and drinks, are listed below:

  1. The Man Trap (TOS), drink: Romulan Ale (a generic ale with blue food coloring)
  2. Parallels (TNG), drink: Suarian Brandy (a strong concoction of my making, strong)
  3. The House of Quark (DS9), drink: Vulcan Ale (a store bought Red Session IPA, created for Star Trek’s anniversary)
  4. Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy (VOY), drink: Klingon Blood Wine ( a concoction of my roommate, using red wine and some secret ingredients, very, very strong)
  5. Bound (ENT), drink: none, I had a desert planned which was Key Lime ice cream sandwiches, the green ice cream represented either the Orions or Vulcan blood, take your pick)

In all, it was fun night of Star Trek, laughs and lots of alcohol. I raise my glass to the many Star Trek crews, on and off the screen, may you, and this property, live long and prosper!

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Thought Balloon: Marvelous News!

Victor Von Doom is the Infamous Iron Man by Alex Maleev

The truth is lately, well actually in the past few years, I haven’t been reading that much from Marvel Comics. Oh, I enjoy the movies, but I don’t enjoy the ‘mainstream’ publisher’s need for events and crossovers every other month just to make sales. Marvel is the worst, as they are always ending series’ after a few issues in order to restart the same title with the All-New, All-Different header, but with the same creative team. It doesn’t make much sense to me. I get that we live in world where long standing series’ are done and that EVERY series gets restarted, and I don’t mind it, as long as when you do so, it’s accompanied by a status quo change or a new creative team. Marvel isn’t to only one guilty, DC does this as well, but they tend to reboot their entire line instead of one title at a time.

Once the Marvel title, Fantastic Four, was canceled, I was gone. The FF are my favorite team and heroes of the Marvel U and when they disappeared because of the movies, I was fed up! I’m still upset that the comics have to take an back seat to the movies, but that is where the money is made and it is what is keeping the comics alive, so I’ll put up with it. Recently, I did get into a new Marvel series, Weirdworld. I enjoyed the Secret Wars mini-series (mostly because it was self-contained) and the now canceled (I think, as no new issues have been solicited or released since issue #6) ongoing. The story added superheroes to a fantasy world with some technology and I loved it! The story was great, but the art is what drew me in…I was hooked! On a side note, Marvel, if you are reading this (which you aren’t), please release both Weirdworld series in your recently resurrected Treasury Edition! Anyway, while I was enjoying a new Marvel title, it wasn’t a traditional superhero story and didn’t connect to their main universe, and once the ongoing was ended, I was done once again.

That is until this week, when Marvel made several announcements about new ongoing titles. While the first Iron Man news got most of the attention, it was the new Iron Man title, Infamous Iron Man, that interested me the most. Doctor Doom as an Iron Man sounds very interesting and I can’t wait to see where this title goes and what happens to Doom because of it. The other title is Unworthy Thor, where the Odinson, which is the name Thor goes by now, ever since he became unworthy to lift his hammer and Jane Foster became Thor, wishes to see if he is worthy once more, but not by taking the hammer away from Jane, but tracking down the hammer of Ultimate Thor, who was killed during Secret Wars. This sounds awesome…the kind of stuff I love from comics, a hero traversing the unknown to reclaim his power and place in the world. I will definitely be picking up these two titles, when they release, and will hopefully be bringing you reviews once they are available.

So, are you excited by these new titles? Let me know and as a parting gift, the Unworthy Thor promotional cover, enjoy!

Unworthy Thor by Olivier Coipel

Categories: Comics, Thought Balloon | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thought Balloon: Make Mine…Valiant (aka ComicsCarl gushes about Valiant Comics)!

Valiant Comics RPGSo I understand that the title of this entry may confuse and anger some. The Make Mine tagline has been associated with Marvel Comics (Make Mine Marvel) for years. I’m not saying that I hate Marvel Comics or that Valiant Comics is better, but right now I find the Valiant Universe more interesting and exciting than either the Marvel or DC Universes.

Most of this stems from the fact that I recently gave up collecting and reading X-O Manowar, which I have collected since issue #1, so that I can try some new titles from the Big Two. I didn’t hate the direction that X-O was going or anything that Valiant had done, where I left off was a good place to end as it finished up almost a year and a half long storyline and established X-O’s place in the Valiant Universe. I wanted to give new titles like Iron Fist, The Living Weapon; Loki, Agent of Asgard; Aquaman and the Others, and some of their event titles a try. Since Batman Beyond was playing heavily in DC’s weekly event series, New 52- Future’s End, I really wanted to see what this alternate future held in store for the DC U. Marvel was pushing their event, Original Sin, and I wanted to see how that effected the Marvel U and what “sins” would be revealed through the event (I know of two that still interest me like Angela being Thor and Loki’s sister and what happened to Nova in the Cancerverse and how did Thanos and Star-Lord escape). However, when I picked up these series, they did not appeal to me at all! I found the first issue of Original Sin lacking and the first few weeks of Future’s End boring. Also, of the new titles that I’ve tried, Loki is the only one that really grabbed me, and its the only one that I’ll still be reading and reviewing (I’ll probably be getting the collections of both Iron Fist and Aquaman and the Others when they come out). So with some funds and time freed up, I decided to head back to a familiar friend, X-O Manowar, and boy was I glad that I did!

I just reviewed the last few issues of X-O and I must say that I’m really excited for the Armor Hunters event. The anniversary issue of X-O was amazing and should be the standard for all special issues going forth for all publishers. X-O isn’t the only great book from Valiant that I’m collecting, Rai is an excellent title with a great world, interesting story and some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen! But don’t get me wrong, these aren’t the only good titles from Valiant, I’ve read Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and Archer and Armstrong in collected form and they are all great reads. I wish I could collected everything, but funds, time and space are all tight. In addition to their comics, Valiant has partnered with Amazon to publish Kindle digital novellas under the Kindle Words brand. I’ve read a handful of these, mostly the X-O and Archer and Armstrong titles. For $1 or more, you can get great, short stories set in the Valiant Universe by a multitude of new and/or upcoming writers. Heck, if you fancy yourself a storyteller, you too can write and submit a Valiant Universe Kindle Words story and get paid for it. Valiant also has a mobile game based on their first crossover event, Harbinger Wars, and a tabletop role-playing game in the works for release this summer. As a D&D gamer, you can expect a review of the RPG when it releases!

OK, I’ve rambled on for too long. I just love the Valiant Universe! I loved it back in the 90’s and I love it today. If you enjoy superhero comics and aren’t reading at least one of Valiant’s titles, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Most of the main Valiant titles have been collected into massive hardcover collections, each containing the first years worth of issues. I’d rather see you support your local comic shop, but if you want a deal on these titles, check out Amazon for any of Valiant’s titles, and while you’re there, download the Kindle app to your smartphone or tablet and pickup one or more of the Kindle Words stories, they’re great, fun, short reads.

Make Mine Valiant….indeed!

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