Showing posts with label pulp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pulp. Show all posts

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Dynamite Comics Mega Post

There have been a lot of announcements this week coming from Dynamite Entertainment about upcoming comics. There's a lot of cool stuff coming, so let's do a quick breakdown.

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the May 2015 launch of Swords of Sorrow, the genre-spanning crossover event featuring an all-star line-up of female authors, headlined by Gail Simone (Batgirl, Birds of Prey).  Debuting with a core Swords of Sorrow series by Simone, the crossover continues throughout May with tie-in titles including the Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella / Jennifer Blood miniseries written by Nancy A. Collins (Vampirella, Swamp Thing); the Swords of Sorrow: Chaos special by Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade); and the Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade / Kato special by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Erica Schultz (M3). Subsequent months will debut related projects by additional female authors, including Leah Moore, Marguerite Bennett, Emma Beeby, and Mikki Kendall. The crossover event brings together Dynamite's wide roster of female characters, including the iconic Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris (of the popular Edgar Rice Burroughs' Warlord of Mars franchise), and Vampirella.

Gail Simone, who has been planning the project since her involvement was announced in July, says, "Here's the thing: I love pulp adventure, always have. But as male-dominated as comics have often been, the pulp adventure world seems to be even more so.  Most of the big name stars and creators are dudes, and that's fine, it's great. But it hit me... what if that wasn't the case? What if adventure pulps had also been written with female readers in mind, and awesome female characters in the spotlight? That's the scenario we are imagining, and it's just been a blast. The key players are Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Dejah Thoris, but it's such an epic-spanning, world-hopping event that we also have Kato, Jungle Girl, Lady Rawhide, Jennifer Blood, and so many more. It's the crossover I dreamed of when I was a kid, and now we get to make it happen."

Simone's core Swords of Sorrow story serves as the starting point for a new universe of pulp adventure. Illustrated by Sergio Davila (Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure), the series features the supernatural heroine Vampirella, Martian princess Dejah Thoris, crimson-tressed swordswoman Red Sonja, martial artist Kato (from filmmaker Kevin Smith's reboot of The Green Hornet), primal warrior Jungle Girl, and many more. Drawn from a dozen worlds and eras to face off against a legendary evil that threatens their homelands, Dynamite's fiercest females must overcome their differences to harness the power of mystical blades -- the eponymous Swords of Sorrow -- in final conflict.

Gail Simone also serves as the architect for all storylines tied into the event, providing direction to her personally selected team of writers. "We got the best writers around, gave them a fun combination of characters and just let them go wild," says Simone. "It's creators like G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, Nancy A. Collins and more, with book titles like Vampirella vs. Jennifer Blood, Kato vs. Masquerade, and Red Sonja vs. Jungle Girl. More about these tag teams will be coming soon, but it's just a ridiculous amount of fun to set these characters against each other, and I'm very proud of the astounding team of writers, who I hand-picked from among the very best of new female adventure writers. There's never been a crossover event in comics like this, ever."

Dynamite Entertainment, a leading publisher in the comics and graphic novel industry, is proud to announce that the all-new adventures featuring Will Eisner's legendary crimefighter Denny Colt, The Spirit, will be written by the award-winning comic creator Matt Wagner. Marking the beginning of a partnership between Dynamite and the Eisner Estate, the new series will celebrate seventy-five years of The Spirit, and its #1 launch issue will feature cover artwork from all-star illustrators Alex Ross, Eric Powell, and series writer Matt Wagner himself.

The Spirit stands among the most iconic and influential characters in the industry with a publishing history in newspapers and comic books lasting generations.  Many of the most accomplished creators in the field have carried the torch that Will Eisner set ablaze, including Darwyn Cooke, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, and Joe R. Lansdale, just to name a few. Matt Wagner, whose long career in comics has yielded a vast library of critically acclaimed titles, takes the reins on The Spirit for the very first time, ensuring that Eisner's creation endures as we enter its fourth quarter-century.

"I discovered The Spirit via the black-and-white, magazine-sized reprints of the mid-70s. It was the first time that I truly perceived sequential narrative as a legitimate art form, of the immense creative power of a comic-artist in his prime," says Wagner. "I can honestly say that seeing and experiencing The Spirit in my formative years ultimately led to my career as a comics author. It's such an immense thrill and a professional honor to have the chance to contribute to Will Eisner's legacy on the milestone 75th anniversary of his most influential and iconic character."

Matt Wagner is the accomplished creator of Grendel and Mage, a guiding creative force behind such mainstream blockbusters as Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity and Batman: The Monster Men, and no stranger to pulp noir, courtesy of his groundbreaking work on such Dynamite titles as The Shadow: Year One, Green Hornet: Year One, and Zorro. He recently set Hollywood abuzz with the launch of Django/Zorro, a comic book series co-written with influential filmmaker Quentin Tarantino that teams two Western icons in an official sequel to the hit film Django Unchained.

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that Mark Waid, one of the comic book industry's most accomplished writers, will be scripting the upcoming Justice, Inc.: The Avenger series. Joined by Dynamite artist Ronilson Freire, Waid will expand the Justice, Inc. universe of pulp heroes that include Condé Nast's The Shadow and Doc Savage. The new series will debut with a #1 issue in June 2015 and focus on wealthy industrialist Richard Henry Benson, the tragic, relentless vigilante and master of disguise known as The Avenger.

In Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1, Waid and Freire continue the adventures of Richard Henry Benson, a victim of a criminal attack that left his facial features forever deadened, gray in color and incapable of showing genuine emotion. And yet, the harsh stroke of fate gave him the ability to mold his face to match the appearance of anyone... a skill he could employ as the ultimate master of disguise. Driven to mete out retribution against those who would prey on the innocent, The Avenger finds himself on a collision course with a villain even more secretive, brutal, and unrelenting than himself: an Invisible Man.

Mark Waid's participation in the Avenger launch fulfills a longtime writing goal; he says, "Moreso than The Shadow, moreso than Doc Savage, the Avenger has always, always been my favorite pulp hero, and I've been aching to write this story since I was eleven years old. What a blast! Having the opportunity to dive into the psyche of a crimefighter as unique as Benson has been a lifelong dream -- I've been thinking about what his life and mind would be like ever since I read my first Avenger paperback back in the day. How does a man live his life when he has nothing to live for but justice? How does he navigate in a world of life and love and joy when his own features are frozen and stiff like putty, mirroring his cold, dead insides? There's so much here to unpack."

With over twenty-five years of experience in his field, Mark Waid has written a wider variety of well-known characters than any other American comics author, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others.  His award-winning graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come, is one of the best-selling comics of all time. Waid has also written two well-received titles from Dynamite Entertainment, Mark Waid's The Green Hornet and Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult.

"Since striking up our great partnership with Condé Nast a few years back, the team here at Dynamite has looked forward to the day that The Avenger would have his own series," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "We've been waiting for quite some time for the perfect writer to helm the project, and Mark Waid IS that perfect writer. He has a profound appreciation for the character, his history, and the genre of pulp adventure. Retailers will take heart that we've placed one of the most innovative, marquee writers on the project, and fans will surely be awestruck by the twists and turns in each and every Waid-penned issue of Justice Inc.: The Avenger."

Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1 will be released with a number of cover options for fans to enjoy, illustrated by many of the comic industry's most recognizable artists. The first issue will feature variant editions by Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), Walter Simonson (The Mighty Thor), Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie), Marc Laming (All-New Invaders), and Barry Kitson (The Amazing Spider-Man).

The Avenger originally debuted in September 1939 as the lead character in an eponymous pulp magazine, published by Street and Smith Publications. Writer Paul Ernst is credited with creating many of the earliest Avenger tales (published under the house writer pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson"), blending the qualities of contemporary pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow, as well as his own creations that included Seekay, The Wraith, Dick Bullitt, Old Stone Face, the Gray Marauder, and Karlu the Mystic. The Avenger appeared in numerous prose novels, radio programs, and comic books throughout the decades, most recently in Dynamite Entertainment's 2014 revival of the Justice, Inc. series written by acclaimed author Michael Uslan and illustrated by Giovanni Timpano.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter

If you are into pulpy gaming adventures, there's a Kickstarter going that may help you realize your Rocketeer dreams. Amazing Adventures is an RPG by Troll Lord Games that utilizes the SIEGE engine (as seen in Castles & Crusades). The game has been out in softcover for a couple of years but this Kickstarter project aims to bring it a hardcover edition (and, with stretch goals, its supplemental books). And bringing that hardcover, it will, as the project has already surpassed its initial funding goal and the first set of stretch goals. It's now working its way through the next sets which include hardcover editions of the supplementary books, an adventure, and something secret.
How is the Kickstarter project, in-general, though? I thought you'd never ask!

Clearly, it has more than funded and that means the project has done what it needed to do. The information present is pretty condensed, which is fine, and it does give a general overview of Amazing Adventures and the project. I would have liked to see a bit more detailed information on the SIEGE engine rules or even a play-test/demo to check out -- that would be especially useful for new, potential players. The imagery on the page is only used for stretch goals, add ons, and shipping prices. While I am fine with having all of those (especially the stretch goal 'dungeon', complete with 'secret doors' -- that's creative), there really should be, at the least, more art showing off the pulpy aspects of the game. Something to really grab the attention and entice pledgers.

The pledge tiers are done a bit differently than most projects, as the US$1 tier is used as a means to get the digital copies via add ons -- there isn't a purely digital tier. The first 'real' tier is at US$25 for the core book in print and digital. Then US$45 for the core book and the Manual of Monsters -- both print and digital. US$50 for the core book and the companion book -- print and digital. And, if you want all three, US$99 for the core, Manual of Monsters, and companion -- print and digital. That does not include international shipping, of which there is a chart to reference on the page. For the digital lovers out there, all three PDFs together are around US$49.

If you would like to get your hands on this pulpyness, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page, and, for more information, be sure to check out Troll Lord Games' website.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fast Pulpy Action In Fate Accelerated

I readily admit to be a fan of the Fate system, and I have been for a while. I ran a few games back years ago when I first found the early versions of the rules online (back when I was first discovering Fudge). I preordered Spirit of the Century and I have signed copies of Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Angelerre, and the Fate version of The Kerberos Club. Yeah, I thought that the the game got to be a little bloated around third edition (Starblazer, I'm looking at you) but there was still a lot of good to be found in the game.

Fast forward through stuff everyone knows and the highly successful Fate Core Kickstarter project.

I'm more of a rules guy than a setting guy, so I have the rules parts of the new version of Fate: Fate Core, The Fate Core Toolkit and Fate Accelerated Edition. Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) has moved into being one of my games of choice. Some may know that I've been hacking it for a game inspired by paranormal romance fiction called Paranormal Friction. I have some issues with the FAE book's organization, but then I have an issue with the organization of a lot of RPGs.

Last night I was reading the trade paperback of Doc Savage: The Silver Pyramid. This was originally a mini-series done in the 80s by Denny O'Neil and the Kubert brothers. The idea was to update the concept of Doc and his mission and bring them both to the present day. On a lot of levels, the book was successful, but that can be attributed to the talent of Denny O'Neil as a writer. I really liked the idea of Doc Savage having a son, but unlike a lot of comic legacies "Junior" couldn't live up to the legacy of a man like Doc Savage. I do wish that the idea of the son could have been given more time and space to develop, but it cast a shadow (not the gun-totting one) over the legacy of the character that I really found a lot more interesting than a lot of the other attempted comic reboots of the character (DC's First Wave debacle comes to mind). Being that DC has since lost the license to the character, there are probably a lot of copies of this trade floating around comic stores that want to get rid of them. I know that's how I got mine.

Of course, this lead me to wanting a FAE remake of Spirit of the Century. Then I realized, for me at least, that I don't really need it. FAE handles the pulpy action right out of the box, sure some genre explanations might be good (I would probably also add Extras as weapons and armor from the Toolkit as a way to handle the weapons but that's a digression) but not necessary either. I know that not everyone has a couple of hundred pulp novels around, so those people would probably need some guidance. The WPA Guide To New York City would be cool, too. I wonder, since government documents are supposed to be public domain, if this could be reprinted as an RPG supplement? I'd buy it (even though I already have a copy).

Making a pulp character in the FAE rules is pretty simple. Unlike with my paranormal romance hack, you don't really have to add a lot of extra explanations. Let's make up Clark Savage, Jr. as an example. I won't spoil the character's fate (ha!) in the story in this.

Clark Savage, The Third
High Concept: Son of The Man of Bronze
Trouble: Living Up To This Legacy Is Hard
Aspects: Trained By Doc's Gang, Determined To Do It

Careful: +1
Clever: +0
Flashy: +2
Forceful: +3
Quick: +1
Sneaky: +2

As you can see, you have a character who is trying to live up to expectations, but just can't quite do it. I think that this would be a great character to play, even in a very pulpy type of campaign.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Dynamite Announces Shadow and Grendel Crossover Series by Matt Wagner

October 7th, 2013, Mt. Laurel, NJ - New York Comic-Con Announcement:  Days before the doors open on one of the year's largest events in pop culture, Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment announce the first in a series of upcoming crossovers.  Matt Wagner will write and draw an all-new Grendel story steeped in the pulp-noir world of The Shadow!

The Shadow is one of the most renowned and enduring pop-culture creations of all time, a multi-media character that established the original archetype of the modern super-hero.  Grendel, Matt Wagner's epic saga of dark aggression, has been a trailblazing powerhouse of independent comics for over thirty years and, for many fans, the elegant and deadly Hunter Rose is the quintessential version of the character.  Combined, these legendary and iconic characters represent over a century of publishing history!

Best-selling author Hunter Rose is secretly the masked assassin and criminal overlord known only as Grendel. When an arcane artifact comes into his possession, Grendel finds himself thrust into a world for which he seems destined, where style and violence intersect to form a dazzling golden age.  He will soon discover that this New York also has a fearsome protector-a dark and mysterious avenger whose name is spoken in hushed whispers, The Shadow!

"Ever since the smash success of my two previous crossover events (with Batman), I've had many offers over the years to see Grendel cross blades with a varied host of other characters," comments Grendel creator, Matt Wagner. "But none of those opportunities ever excited me as much as this possibility.  I've been a huge fan of The Shadow for many, many years and my love of the character finally saw fruition when I got the chance to literally re-define his origins by writing The Shadow: Year One for Dynamite. To have the chance to both write and draw The Shadow facing my own creation is something of a dream come true! It's also adds yet another instant classic to my long legacy of Grendel projects with Dark Horse Comics."

"I'm looking forward to this project for many reasons, not the least of which is Matt Wagner's return as both writer and artist of Grendel," said Dark Horse president and publisher, Mike Richardson. "The fact that I share Matt's enthusiasm for one of the greatest fictional characters of all time, The Shadow, makes it all the more exciting. Dark Horse and Dynamite are proud to announce this great comic series from one of comics' premier creators."

"I've known and been a fan of Matt's since Grendel first appeared in the early ‘80's, and one of the first prestige comics I bought was The Terminator by Matt with James Robinson.  Matt's an incredible story teller and has written three series for Dynamite, including The Shadow: Year One," said Dynamite CEO and Publisher, Nick Barrucci. "When the idea for a Grendel / Shadow cross-over was suggested, and Matt stated that he would write it and illustrate the series in a Prestige format, let's just say that you can't quantify the excitement in our offices.  This is such an incredible series, and the first of more projects that Dynamite and Dark Horse are announcing."

This exciting new three issue series will be released in three 48 page prestige format issues in 2014! Look for more details in the months to come.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Troll Lord Games' Amazing Adventures

If you like the pulps, and I know I do, then this just might be the role-playing game that you have been looking for. I'm going to get this out of the way right from the get-go, Jason Vey is an (dare I say it?) amazing designer. If you haven't seen his work on the Unisystem stuff from Eden Studios, or his own retroclone Spellcraft & Swordplay, you are surely missing out.

If you're not familiar with the heroic pulps of the 30s and 40s, they were a precursor to comic books that featured crime-fighting men and women who became embroiled in global whirlwind adventures. Some of the best known of the characters from the heroic pulps would be Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spider and The Shadow. Other famous literary precursors to the pulp traditions could be characters like Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Nick Carter or the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. More modern neo-pulp characters could be ones like Indiana Jones, Buckaroo Banzai or even someone like Jack Burton. Big, bold, larger than life characters against a backdrop that is just as large, and as dangerous, as they are.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dynamite Comics' Masks 1 + 2

This is one of those comics that should come as a no-brainer for me. The Shadow. The Spider. The Green Hornet and Kato. Chris Roberson writing a neo-pulp story based around these characters and set in the classic pulp era of the late 1930s.

Masks is an eight issue mini-series from Dynamite Entertainment that teams up their licensed pulp characters: The Shadow, The Spider, The Green Hornet and Zorro (Zorro in the 1930s?) with golden age heroes like The Black Terror, Green Lama and Miss Fury. This is a recipe for success...or great failure. I'm hoping for success.

Roberson's story is based around the classic Empire State stories from The Spider Magazine, three novel-length interlinked adventures from 1928. The Empire State stories were a thinly veiled analogy of Nazism, and how it could take root in the United States. Historically, these stories are interesting because they are some of the few pulp stories to tackle the evils of Nazis. In a nutshell, the original plot of the Empire State stories was that a cabal of criminals and corrupt politicians were able to push laws into effect and voted their Justice Party into power in the state of New York. Eventually this Justice Party took over the state and, using their Black Police were able to strong arm everyone into following them. Of course one man stood up to them, The Spider, and led a revolution against their oppression.

Chris Roberson takes the seeds of the Empire State stories, having the Justice Party rise to power in this shared universe of pulp and comic book hero greats. Now, instead of just The Spider fighting against the Justice Party and its Black Legions, a team of great heroes rise up to fight against these villains. Despite the Empire State stories predating it by decades, this story so far reminds me of The Dark Knight Rises, but maybe that is just because I finally watched the movie recently. The parallels are there: criminals and terrorists take over the city in an apocalyptic manner, rout the police forces and institute a near lawless regime where their words are taken as law. I think that these similarities come from the long lasting influence of the pulps on the comic books of today, and their cinematic offshoots.

Unfortunately, the story of these two issues is a bit disjointed. I honestly expected better from Roberson, after his work at DC Comics (I will admit that I haven't read any of his recent creator-owned works from Monkey Brain). These first two issues are a bit disjointed, and for a comic that is supposed to be only eight issues, I honestly expected more story in these comics. The first issue puts most of its efforts into building the connection between The Shadow and the Green Hornet, only to throw in The Spider in an almost random manner near the end of the issue. I am assuming that an Hispanic character introduced in passing in the first issue will eventually be revealed to be the pulp Zorro. To be honest, even though I love the character I think that his inclusion in this story seems to be a bit of a stretch, but I am hoping that Roberson pulls it off.

The art in these issues is a bit disjointed. Alex Ross does the first issue in his painted style, while the second issue is done by Dennis Calero. This is a bit disappointing. After Ross' great renditions of the characters in issue one (I love his Shadow and Lamont Cranston portrayals), seeing Calero's style in the second issue is jarring. Is that the secret origin of the Black Bat we are witnessing? For me, the art of the second issue was disappointing, mostly because in a mini-series I want to see a consistent art style throughout the book, and if you have to mix artists at least pick ones that have similar styles. Calero's style in the second issue does not appeal to me. It comes across as rushed and unfinished in places, particularly after the set up of Ross' photorealistic style in the first issue. However, Calero could very well just be suffering in comparison rather than due to the actual quality of his art.

I will stick with this book, because I think it has potential. I am looking forward to the re-re-introduction of the Green Lama and the Black Terror. I have loved these characters for a long time, and I really enjoyed their last use from Dynamite in the Project Superpowers books. I just hope that the characters aren't just abandoned this time around like they were before.

Overall, I liked these two issues despite the flaws.  Roberson's dialogue in the issues is superb and gives each of the characters their own unique voice. The story could have a faster pace, but that could be because I am comparing them to the source material, and Spider pulps were some of the fastest paced pulps written in the day. If these books suffer, it is not because of Roberson's writing on them. I do hope that the pace picks up a bit with the next issue, and they settle on a single artist for the rest of the story.

My main concern is that Masks is intended primarily as a world-building tool, much in the same vein as the First Wave comics that DC Comics put out, featuring Doc Savage, The Spirit, Batman and The Avenger. First Wave was a cool idea that ended up not living up to it's potential because I felt that the writer just didn't get writing characters like Doc Savage. Chris Roberson does not have this disadvantage. He gets these pulp characters and knows how to write them, clearly and with distinct voices. I just hope that he is allowed to write a story on its own merits, rather than one conceived to sell other merchandise and spin off new comics. Masks has the potential to be so much more than that, if the powers that be at Dynamite let it happen.

Below are some sample pages from the issues.  The first two pages are Ross' art from issue one and the next three are Calero's art from issue two. I think that the sample pages demonstrate the jarring differences between the issues, art-wise.

Do I recommend purchasing these comics? I will have to say that my answer is a qualified yes.  They are definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the pulps, the neo-pulps or the golden age of comics. I would not suggest having too high of expectations from them, however. They make for a good yarn, but I am not entirely sold on their long term readability. I think that $3.99 an issue is asking a lot for the content you get, in places. I still have high hopes for Chris Roberson's capabilities as a writer to pull all of this together and deliver a stronger story than these issues have so far demonstrated. Hopefully, I won't be disappointed.