As the self-proclaimed "Ben Urich" of Boston comic book and geek culture, myself and my esteemed colleagues at VIGILANT GEEK MEDIA work around the clock to provide you with up-to-date, pertinent comic book and geek culture news! We discuss a plethora of graphic novel titles from the mainstream labels like Marvel, DC, Valiant and Image, to interesting indie publications both local, (Boston, MA), and nation-wide! Whether it be comic books, comics-based tv or movies, anime, gaming or who knows what else that makes you tick.. I am confident you will find it here at THE VIGILANT GEEK! Thanks so much to loyal fans of the blog and podcast, as well as you newcomers. I hope we all keep having fun and never grow up.

Your's Truly,



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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Summer Recap

Marvel Comics Cinematic Universe: A Summer recap, in-depth analysis of the MCU thus far, and the future of the MCU discussed

Guardians of the Galaxy

               Marvel Comics is no stranger to box office success. Over the past decade, their films have broken numerous records in revenue and viewership. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to fans that Marvel has capped off their onslaught of feature films this 2014 Spring/Summer season with grace and fortitude. Such blockbusters involved in their hostile takeover of the box offices include Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men, Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. For those who've been living under the metaphorical rock this past summer, here's a recap of the films, as spoiler-free as I could get it. However, I do issue an official, "VIGILANT GEEK SPOILER ALERT!!!" to anyone who has yet to see these films. (Just covering my ass guys ;))

released April 2014

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier official movie poster

              This action-packed caper of international espionage and governmental conspiracies takes Captain Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans), Colonel Nick Fury, (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow, (Scarlet Johansson) and The Falcon, (Anthony Mackie) deep within a top secret plot orchestrated by an unlikely foe to overthrow one of the United States' most viable intelligence agencies, S.H.I.E.L.D. Throughout Cap's quest to save S.H.I.E.L.D, he and his allies confront the likes of Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones and of coarse, the cold, calculated Winter Soldier. 

Cap in action versus the dastardly Winter Soldier

Below are some of the amazing vintage-style movie posters created before the film hit the box offices:
(The first one looks not unlike an old Bond movie poster, which is excellent!)

Vintage style Cap 2 movie poster

Vintage style Cap 2 movie poster

            With elements of the classic spy caper mixed in with that of a superhero movie, this one has the best of both worlds. Cap is much like James Bond throughout the film, except he does way more damage with a vibranium shield than 007 could ever do with a PP7. Marvel has clearly succeeded in making Cap one of the most anticipated live-action heroes today. Cap 3 should be a real smash!

released May 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 promo

                    For those that read the Marvel books, you are well aware that Spidey typically has his own separate continuity apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe. (Not including MU crossovers of coarse!) This second installment of the fresh, new, rebooted series starring Andrew Garfield as the web-slinger is no exception. With the first film giving us  a glimpse of Peter's past, as well as his skills going toe-to-toe with The Lizard, part two elaborates on secrets kept by Peter's parents, as well as introduces three new villians into the mix with The Rhino, (Paul Giamatti), The Green Goblin, (Dane DeHaan) and Electro, (Jamie Fox). 

Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man

Jamie Fox as Electro

              Some people keep asking me, "why are there so many villians in Spider-Man movies??" To those people I answer with a question, "Have you ever picked up an issue of Spider-Man?" If you haven't noticed, besides maybe Batman, Spidey has the largest, most dangerous rouges gallery in all of comics. Clearly, he must then be depicted on the silver screen as fighting numerous villians at once! That's what he does!! Peter Parker is the ultimate multi-tasker!! Think about it for a second, he's usually fighting the Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Venom and Carnage, while also saving Mary Jane from Doc Ock, while also taking pics of himself for the Bugle, while also running to the grocery store to pick up bread and milk for Aunt May, while also running out of web fluid and having to take the subway around NYC.... etc, etc, etc. 

Spidey goofing off with the NYFD

               I have heard rumblings around the net that part of the reason why so many new villians are being introduced in Spider-Man films is due to the fact that a "Sinister Six" film is on it's way. (For those unaware, the Sinister Six are a group of Spidey villians, usually led by Doc Ock, and include the likes of Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, Rhino and Vulture, however, members have been traded here and there throughout the years.) Though I am unable to confirm this project as a reality at this time, I do know for sure that a Venom movie is currently in production. Marvel exec. Avi Arad can be quoted stating that, "Venom will be an Eddie Brock story, staying true to the original comic book." There you have it folks! There seems to be plenty to look forward to within Marvel's cinematic "spider-verse."

Marvel's "Venom" film will be an Eddie Brock story, true to the comic.

released May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past official movie poster

                This film blew me away. Though straying a little further from the source material than I had hoped it would, Brian Singer's third X-Men feature film, (fifth X-Men film overall, not including the Wolverine solo films), more than surpassed my expectations. It captured the dark, dystopian future Chris Claremont created in the 1981 story arc perfectly. For those caught up in the issue of continuity between the original source material and the plot of the film; allow me to explain how a lifelong fan of X-Men comics, cartoons and motion pictures like myself was able to accept the changes made for the movie.

The original "Days of Future Past" comic book cover, circa 1981, Chris Claremont


             As I am sure most of you know, in the original "Days of Future Past" story arc, it is Kitty Pryde, now known as "Shadowcat," known back then as "Sprite," that does the actual time-traveling, NOT Wolverine. In the original story, Ms. Pryde finds herself as one of the last mutant resistance fighters, alongside an aging Wolverine, fighting what seems like a futile war against the nearly indestructible sentinels created by scientist and opponent of mutant rights, Bolivar Trask. Kitty must travel back in time to prevent the murder of Senator Kelly in order to prevent the war on mutant and humankind alike she is fighting in the future. 
              Ok, so we have established how the plot originated in 1981 by Chris Claremont in which Kitty Pryde is the real hero. Now, you're all probably pissy that the motion picture featured Wolverine going back in time, not K.P., to prevent the murder. Well, although I agree that the story was altered quite a bit for the film adaptation, I'll have to ask you to consider this. In the early 1990's, Marvel released an animated version of "Days of Future Past" in their immensely popular X-Men Saturday morning cartoon, which featured Bishop doing the time-traveling! In fact, Kitty Pryde wasn't even in the cartoon at all! Although this adaptation strayed even further from the source material than the film did, it was still extremely well-received, and is one of my favorite episodes to this day. I know there are many of you out there who agree with this.
               With all this being said, I must lastly jump upon Marvel's "Wolverine Bandwagon," so to speak, and come out and say that when push comes to shove, he really is one of the most interesting characters Marvel has ever created. People love Wolverine, including myself. It's tough to make an X-Men movie and not showcase the one character that will put definite asses in the seats. Therefore, dollars and cents wise, if nothing else, it made sense to have Wolverine do the time traveling, and it made for an extremely enjoyable film.

X-Men: Days of Future Past cast


released August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy official movie poster

                Last, but as you all probably know already, DEFINITELY not least; we come to Marvel's big closer to its summer box office monopoly, Guardians of the Galaxy. Following the antics of five cosmic misfits, (Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)), this one had big laughs and even bigger action! To me, the coolest thing about "Guardians" is that Marvel has chosen this specific franchise to be the outlet for their whole "cosmic universe." When I say "cosmic universe," I am talking about an intergalactic monstrosity larger than Star Wars or Star Trek. Besides the Chitauri which were introduced into the MCU in The Avengers, and all of the cosmic characters introduced in the Fantastic Four movie franchise, (set to reboot in 2015), Guardians of the Galaxy may be credited with introducing a plethora of cosmic entities to the MCU including the Kree, the Elders (The Collector), Yondu and The Ravagers, the Xandarians, the Sakaarans, Nebula, the Krylorians, Korath, Thanos the Mad Titan, Ronan the Accuser, and the Nova Corps!

The Collector

Ronan the Accuser


                     With Thanos appearing in his first speaking role in the MCU ever, (his first actual appearance in the MCU was in The Avengers easter egg), one cannot help but wonder....is Marvel working towards a cinematic adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet? It's not entirely clear at this stage of the game, but there are certainly clues! One big clue was Josh Brolin holding his gauntlet-clad fist in the air at San Diego Comic Con this year. There have also been numerous sightings of the infinity gems/stones in such Marvel movies as The Avengers, Thor 2: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Let's do a quick recap of where the infinity gems that we know about actually are: one is safely in Asgard, one is safely in Xandar, one is with the Collector and the last one is not so safely in the hands of Baron von Strucker. Hmmm....

Brolin teasing The Infinity Gauntlet at the Marvel Studios Panel, San Diego Comic Con 2014

Thanos the Mad Titan, played by Josh Brolin, Guardians of the Galaxy

One of my all time favorite Marvel Comics crossover events: The Infinity Gauntlet

               If Marvel's big master plan is to build up to an Infinity Gauntlet movie, either through the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy franchises, they will need to introduce four key characters: Adam Warlock, The Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Mistress Death. Also, they will have to introduce the rest of the Elders. (So far we have only met The Collector) Additionally, they will have to finally allow Thanos to get up out of his intergalactic reclining chair and obtain the infinity gems! 

Marvel's Phase II will finish off with Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, set to release in May of 2015 

What to expect from Phase III of Marvel's Cinematic Universe:

Marvel has stated publicly that they will be kicking off "Phase III" with Ant-Man!!!

Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Set to release Summer 2015.

Other films you can expect from Phase III:

Black Panther:

Doctor Strange:



X-Men: Age of Apocalypse:

Fantastic Four (reboot):


Captain America 3

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

Thor 3

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The Wolverine (sequel)

The Defenders (Netflix tv series starring Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones)

Avengers 3

The Rumor Mill:

These are the rumored additions to Phase III that are being tossed around the internet like hot tamales!


The Sinister Six:

Incredible Hulk (sequel starring Mark Ruffalo):

Black Widow (solo film):

I don't know about all of you, but PHASE III has me pumped! Keep em coming Marvel!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Roadhouse Sons: A MUST READ Indie Series

Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles

Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles, Vol. 1, Pt. 1

Welcome back boppers!! It is my absolute pleasure to present to you all an array of accolades for this Vigilant Geek’s current favorite independent graphic novel, my NUMBER ONE indie pick from Boston Comic Con 2014 and current front-runner for the inaugural “Vigilant Geek Awards: Best Indie Comic Book of 2014,” Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles. This brilliant fusion of rock n' roll and espionage is the brainchild of former professional wrestler and current road manager for the rock band Studebaker Hawk, (the inspiration behind Roadhouse Sons), J. H. Sanderson. Based on Sanderson's novel Dangerous Gambles, Book One of the seven-part series he has been penning about the Roadhouse Sons, this phenomenal contribution to the graphic novel medium completely blew me out of the water. With artwork that far surpasses most mainstream illustration, and an in-depth plot with amazing character development, it became an immediate addiction to follow the band members through their dangerous spy caper of murder and corruption.

Bassist Rich Webster, art by Allison Barrows and Romas Kukalis

Now, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the marvelous artwork I just mentioned. Allison Barrows did an amazing job converting Sanderson’s first novel to the graphic novel form. Not only can this talented woman be credited with the initial layout of the graphic novel, but also much of the illustrations. Along with Ms. Barrows, industry veteran Romas Kukalis was on the creative roster just to ensure the finest quality artwork imaginable; and it shows! Additionally, readers will have Ms. Alexandra Kukalis to thank for her wonderful work as digital assistant and colorist. Being a renowned New England artist in the oil medium, as well as an extraordinary theatrical makeup artist, she was the go-to lady for all coloring within the publication. I must rave about the coloring of this book as well because it was extremely visually appealing, which made putting the graphic novel down that much harder! It is quite clear that Ms. Kukalis's talent in other media transferred beautifully to the graphic novel arena, and I hope to see more of her work A.S.A.P. All in all, the attention to detail put into each panel is simply awesome. I really enjoy detailed, realistic artwork like what these two have showcased in this graphic novel. It’s the kind of artwork that makes readers feel like a “fly-on-the-wall,” within the story.

Art by Allison Barrows and Romas Kukalis

As if the art alone weren’t enough of a reason to read this series, Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles has one of the most intricate, distinctive and exciting plots I have seen in any independent graphic novel. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if the Cold War went HOT?? Sanderson and friends paint a vivid portrait of what that alternative reality might have been like. In a society where basically every desirable commodity is rationed by the government, (ie. meat, coffee, booze, gasoline etc.), there is little in regards to escapism except to go see live bands play at dingy dive bars. Enter: the Roadhouse Sons, the next big rock and roll sensation, complete with full backing by the U.S. government! How did this happen? In the sneakiest manner possible, the F.B.I. forces the band into a compromising situation in which they must agree to be government operatives!

Numerous trying occurrences during the band’s government employment, such as multiple poisonings by mysterious suspects, run-ins with a family of communist black marketeers and an international, geopolitical conspiracy so huge, it might have been the cause of the Cold War becoming World War III, each band member has their own intuitions, mental fortitude and will power tested to the max! Pretty faces lead to the darkest of places, no one is who they seem and blood runs cold as a result. By the end of Dangerous Gambles, it is apparent that the band members really have no one to trust; and that makes for great "edge-of-the-seat" reading!

As the band gains more fame, they also run into more trouble! Art by Allison Barrows and Romas Kukalis

Besides the outstanding artwork and intriguing plot, a third factor that makes this literary gem a “MUST READ” is the incredible character development throughout the story. Each band member has a unique look and personality. For instance, the band’s drummer, Evan Dixon, is also the band’s manager, a family man and the most level-headed member of the group. Clyde Poulin on the other hand, the band’s rhythm guitarist and token “pretty boy,” is much more of a risk-taking loose cannon than anything else. Personalities like this, combined with the bravery and leadership skills of front man Cameron Walsh, the rugged abrasiveness of the band’s roadie brawler Doug Courtland and the stoic, introverted nature of bassist Rich Webster, produces an extremely interesting melting pot of characters; and that’s just the band! The FBI agents the band are cooperating with, (Dwyer, McIntyre, D'Lorenzo and Lamont), all have their traits and quirks as well. The more these characters are forced to interact with one another, the stronger the character development becomes, and this does not let up for the duration of the volume!

Cameron Walsh, Roadhouse Sons "frontman"

Clyde Poulin, Roadhouse Sons rhythm guitarist and token "pretty boy."

Doug Courtland, Roadhouse Sons "roadie" and resident brawler

 With these key literary and artistic elements in consideration, there is no wonder why J. H. Sanderson’s Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles won “Best Indie Comic of Boston Comic Con 2014.” Sanderson, Barrows, Romas and the rest of the “Roadhouse Productions” creative and production teams have clearly mastered the art of graphic novel storytelling by incorporating top shelf artwork, amazing character development and the most intricate and gripping plot I have witnessed in years. If you’re a fan of indie comics, the graphic novel medium as a whole, fantastic artwork or even classic rock n’ roll, this publication is without a doubt a “MUST READ” for you!!

**A special thanks to Roadhouse producer Mia Moravis for her diligent coordination with me throughout the past few months. 

**The Credit:

J. H. Sanderson: Creator
Allison Barrows: Writer / Layouts / Illustration
Romas: Artist / Cover Art
Alexandra Kukalis: Digital Assistant
Mia Moravis: Producer

*** To obtain your copies of Roadhouse Sons: Dangerous Gambles, visit the official website @ www.roadhousesons.com

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Marvelous" PR Decisions: Marvel's Anti-Bullying Campaign

"Marvelous" PR Decisions: Marvel's Anti-Bullying Campaign

Cap says, "Fight bullying with more bullying! 'Merica!!" Captain America #25  "Anti-Bullying" variant available in October

          We all know that Marvel has always had an excellent PR department. However, as of late, Marvel has been making quite a few big public relations related decisions worth mentioning. In regards to the topic of diversity, Marvel couldn't be doing enough for the cause. This is particularly apparent in their executive decisions to give Thor a sex change, and to introduce a new African American Captain America, (The Falcon). (Two decisions I don't personally agree with, but  it is still huge comics news.)

Marvel's new launch of their 2014/2015 titles will include The Falcon as the new Captain America and a female Thor.

                  However, if there is one decision Marvel has made recently that is hard not to stand behind, it is definitely their October "Anti-Bullying" campaign. Next month, members of both The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy will be teaming up with Stomp Out Bullying to put an end to this unnecessary and cruel childhood epidemic. Check out these cool variants of Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora and the Incredible Hulk below:


Legendary Star Lord #4

Rocket Raccoon #4

Guardians of the Galaxy #20

Hulk smash bullies!!! Hulk #7

               As you can see, each variant cover features a different Marvel character either stopping a bully in the act, or comforting a victim of bullying in some way. The covers are very heart-warming, and send a powerful message that this is a crucial social issue that both children and adults should be aware of. All in all, bullies suck at life. Good job Marvel!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Venturing Outbound": Boston's Own OUTBOUND Vol. 1

"Venturing OUTBOUND!" : 

An In-Depth Look at Boston's Own Science Fiction Anthology, Outbound Vol. 1

            Hello again my fellow graphic novel enthusiasts! With the chaos of Boston Comic Con dying down, the time has come to take an in-depth look at another Boston Comics Roundtable, (BCR), publication of pure excellence! A few months ago, I was able to show you all first hand that some of Boston’s best indie writers and artists, (BCR and Riverbird Studios), could more than handle themselves within the genre of horror, (see my earlier BCR review, “Homegrown Horror: Hellbound III Darkness). Now, it is time to change gears, look to the stars and travel into outer space at warp speed! That’s right my friends, this week we are going to take a close look at BCR and Riverbird Studios’ red hot science fiction anthology, Outbound. BCR’s team of graphic novel gurus have already published three volumes of Outbound, with volume four on its way this Fall. With this being said, this time, I felt that I should start the review with the first volume, published in 2009, especially since a lot of the short stories in this anthology have a strong continuity that stretches throughout the volumes.

Radical cover painting by Marcelo Buchelli

       The publication itself is an illuminating work of art, complete with an eye-catching cover painting by Marcelo Buchelli that showcases two aliens from The Caerulean Dream. There are also chapter covers for each short story in the anthology, each unique in their own way, each illustrated by David Newbold and Richard Jenkins. Basically, the very first big statement I can make about Outbound, or any BCR anthology I have come across so far for that matter, is that the artwork is always such a treat!

The Caerulean Dream:

"The Caerulean Dream," pg. 1

           The first plotline that readers will encounter is a very original and well-thought out story of extraterrestrial colonization entitled, The Caerulean Dream, by Brett Barkley and Roho. The story starts out with HCOI, a Caerulean priest, briefing some family members about the steps to be taken in preparation for a long cosmic voyage for young Caerulean intergalactic colonists and lovers HNAL and HULZ. They are to start a new life on a distant planet as the first step towards their own Caerulean priesthood. The planet of destination however, isn’t so distant to us Earthlings. As HCOI conveys to HNAL and HULZ’s family members on pg. 2, “It’s a yellow sun system, the fourth planet from the sun. It seems to be evenly stable and ripe for “bio-forming.”” Hmmm, sounds a lot like Mars to me…

            As Barkley and Roho take their readers through a week’s worth of events, all in preparation for the big cosmic journey, they give us a great sense of what this particular extraterrestrial culture is like. Through family dinners, meetings with HCOI the priest, an interesting trip to a Caerulean marketplace, and especially a certain tender evening between HNAL and HULZ, it is quite clear that this extraterrestrial species from a galaxy far, far away is not so different from the human race. This is a fresh change-up for science fiction literature, because most extraterrestrials are typically portrayed as malevolent conquerors of worlds and/or galaxies.

            On the last page of The Caerulean Dream, the reader will find a Russian rocket ship, getting ready to launch back on August 5, 1973 from the USSR. In the adjacent panel, the reader will find a similar scenario, except that it is the Caerulean spacecraft launching into space. In the final panel of the story, the caption reads “March 12, 1974, day 365 of the voyage.” The Caeruleans did indeed make it to Mars. The only problem now, is that the Russians, (the bad guys as always), are also landing on the red planet, at the exact same time!! It almost appears that the two spacecrafts are on a steady course to a major collision with one another. Of course, just like any great story teller would do, Barkley and Roho leave us hanging at that moment on Mars in March of 1974…. At least until the next issue! I definitely can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Space and Time:

Cover art by Josh Mills and David Newbold

This next one’s a real doozy. Without even reading it yet, the eerie cover art done by David Newbold and Josh Mills, showcasing a devious-looking female cyborg standing in front of a man trapped in a tank of fluid, just speaks volumes. This was one of those great comic book covers, (you collectors out there will know what I mean), that just pumps the reader up and creates excitement towards the story before most readers will learn what the story is even about! It’s genius, it’s done all the time in the graphic novel medium, and it always works, at least with me. (I have been known to pick up a new comic book title and give it a try if the cover leaves a lasting impression with me). Anyway, I better digress and get into the meat and potatoes of this story.

This sci-fi thriller by Josh Mills and Mike Paoloni takes place in the future, the year 2098 to be exact, in Colorado Springs, CO. It all begins with a father and daughter preparing to leave on a long trip across the galaxy, due to the father’s new work assignment. As the father is injecting himself with some sort of drug, his daughter catches him in the act, demanding an explanation. He goes on to state that the injection is just for the trip, it was prescribed by his doctor and that it is to calm his nerves for the voyage.

In the scene that follows, the reader is introduced to a new character, the pilot for this epic voyage through the cosmos, a sassy, young blonde woman named Alex. She is meeting with her superiors when the reader finds out that she is not just transporting passengers. There is a very mysterious, very sensitive type of cargo accompanying Alex, the father and the daughter on this trip. Though readers never actually find out what this cargo really is in the first issue, it is made apparent to anyone that has the ability to read between the lines that Alex will not be transporting a giant crate of fuzzy little cute bunnies. This mystery cargo is going to be dangerous, I know it!! (I cannot wait to find out for sure though). The cargo is the real vital commodity for Alex here. She is simply using the passengers, (i.e. father and daughter), as an alibi to allow her to log the trip!

Now let’s cut to the third key entity of this story.. that creepy cyborg lady from the amazing cover art I mentioned earlier! We don’t find out much about her or her role in all of this in issue one, but what we do know is only what is said back and forth during radio contact between our lovely cyborg lady and her male cyborg superior. However, even though readers are granted a V.I.P. pass into the whole conversation, it still does not make a whole lot of sense yet. Phrases are muttered back and forth such as, “The shield is in place my master,” “The trap is set, now we wait.” “Our prize will arrive soon.” WHAT??!! Slow down you robo-jerks! What kind of shield?? What trap are you setting? What prize do you expect to receive soon? Well, it becomes quite clear that whatever those miserable cyborgs are anticipating as their “prize,” you can bet your milk money that Alex is carrying it on her ship somewhere. Other than that though, your guess is as good as mine in regards to what the big scheme will be. Only one thing is for sure at this point, it can’t be good!

As if there aren’t enough separate entities within this extremely intricate plot already, the sharpest curveball is thrown by Mills and Paoloni towards the final two pages of the issue. Perhaps the scariest stakeholders in this intergalactic mind game are found at the headquarters of the “United Planets of the Milky Way.” I’ve always thought that corrupt politicians make phenomenal antagonists, mainly due to the obscene amount of power always placed in the metaphorical lap of these inevitably greedy and selfish “suit dummies,” and their constant tendencies to exploit that power. This scenario is no different. Once again, readers are granted the privilege of being a fly on the wall, this time during a meeting of the most evil politicians the Milky Way can hack up. They are discussing a conspiracy they wish to enact that would basically involve the galactic government creating a false, controlled “rebellion,” that said galactic government plans to exterminate “when it suits them.” They even state in the meeting that by following through with this conspiracy, all of them in that board room would be knowingly killing millions. Some of the greasier characters in the room try to justify this by emphasizing the vitality of catering to certain special interest groups. (Sound familiar?)

Within the final panels of this instant classic, readers are able to get a real good look at Alex’s ship, listen to the daughter harass her father about being a drug addict just one more time, and a deadly asteroid belt that just so happens to be pulling our heroes right towards it! Will “Alex, the fearless space smuggler” and her convenient alibis in both the “Nagging Daughter,” and her amazing “Junkie Dad” make it out of this debacle alive? We’ll all just have to read Outbound Vol. 2 to find out!

The Null Device:

David S. Marshall has a unique style of art that captivates readers

Chapter One: (Is-A)

Are you the type of sci-fi junkie that might find yourself pondering an alternate future, one in which Star Wars was mashed-up on the silver screen with Star Gate and James Bond, (the Sean Connery portrayal of course ;) ) ?  If so, this next comic might as well have been dedicated to you! This awesome cornerstone in science fiction literature is without a doubt the most original and imaginative sci-fi work in any medium I have come across in recent years. The story: The Null Device, the creator: David S. Marshall, the target audience: HOPEFULLY all of you! Now get ready to shed some unwanted dense, physical mass from your glowing soul, find yourself the closest wormhole to dive through and meet me in the war zone for an inter-dimensional adventure that will blow your @#$% off.
The tale kicks off with an older gentleman peering through computer files on people who appear to be government agents or secret operatives of some sort. The man is clearly attempting to assemble a task force of some kind, for an extremely urgent mission. Then we cut to a scene in a busy city block. A man is staggering down the sidewalk in what seems like excruciating pain. Suddenly, out of nowhere, his &*%$ing head splits apart!! A glowing, "aura-like" beam of light rises from the crumbling, lifeless corpse and rises up to the atmosphere and into space. The beam of light is in fact the man. This is a way he is able to travel! It is unclear if this method allows the man to travel through time or not, but it definitely appears to be some sort of inter-dimensional way of transportation. Oh, and the television sets are used as wormholes, of coarse. 
When the man arrives back in his dense physical body through the television/wormhole, he finds himself in the older gentleman's living room. It is now clear that the older man is bald, which is not so weird. However, he seems to also have a USB port installed in his head, which is very weird! He has the man who arrived in his living room to hand him the USB drive. What happens next is so freakin cool!!
As I am trying to watch it with the spoilers, all I can disclose is that a fellow agent, (Agent K), is in big trouble in an alternate dimension called the "war zone," and the man doing the traveling better get his ass back in that television/wormhole and go save her! This was such a cool story, I really can't say enough about it. You can tell that Mr. Marshall really has a knack not only for top-shelf artwork, but for mind-blowing, original science fiction story-telling. Thanks for this gem David, I'll be highly anticipating the next installment!

Flek! Space Flea:

            Once, there was a squirrel monkey named Gordo. NASA sent Gordo into space, to orbit around the Earth. Unfortunately, Gordo's spacecraft collided with a satellite; and two days later the ship's nose cone, with Gordo inside, landed on a planet full of life. What was next for Gordo you might ask? To heck if I know!! This story isn't about Gordo...... it's about HIS FLEAS!!

            Written and illustrated by Erik Heumiller, the story starts out with our hero, Flek, on the run from some troublesome bully-fleas. As Flek tries to duck into the tall grasses to lose the bullies, a giant centipede, (giant in the perspective of the fleas), ambushes them all! Just as the bullies are about to get squashed, Flek uses his extra-strong legs to leap high and kick the centipede out of the way, saving the bullies. Though the bullies end their pursuit, they are still major jerks to poor Flek, even after he saved them! Later on, Flek is shown having an intense conversation with his father at their kitchen table. When Flek's father reveals some climactic information regarding Flek's long, lost mother, it is apparent that Flek will surely embark on a journey to find her, and his true "people."

Scientists Gone Wild:

Scientists Gone Wild concept art by Jerel Dye

        Far away from prying eyes, deep within a secret laboratory, mad scientists Herr Doktor Ernst Schumacher and his assistant Pickles will be conducting a series of four experiments today. The experiments include Maze, Brain, Wheel and HEAD SWAP! (ehhhh, I don't know about that last one guys..) Written and illustrated by Eric Boeker, this story was big fun. The test subjects, or torture victims rather, are a gerbil named Professor Gerbil T. Fuzzybum, and a goldfish named Fishy McFisherstich.

       Now I understand that this greatly defies all logic, but the scientists agree that it will be best for them to perform the head swap after happy hour! This is precisely where our mad scientist chums goof everything up for themselves. See, by deciding to leave the lab unattended, particularly by attending happy hour, they not only provide Fuzzybum and McFisherstich with the opportunity to escape their torturous captivity in the lab, but also give them ample time to sneak into "2B: Giant Robots and Growth Rays," and turn themselves into gigantic cyborgs!! Let's just say things don't end well for the mad scientists!

Mark and the Aliens:

Mark and the Gillys concept art by Roho

            In the story, Mark and the Aliens, written and illustrated by Aya Rothwell, there's this dude named Mark. He's a wicked good guy, but the dude fell into some bad luck when his spacecraft crash landed on a mysterious planet in a far away galaxy. The aliens, (now referred to as "Gillys"), that inhabit the planet are now the only friends Mark has. Mark must rely on them for food, shelter and company. It's cool though, cuz Mark's like super popular there! This is primarily due to the fact that Mark is the only being the aliens have seen that doesn't look just like them. On the other hand, Mark cannot tell any of them apart!! This makes it very difficult for Mark to develop a personal relationship with any one member of the alien population. This one definitely made me ponder what it must be like, and how lonely it would be, to actually be considered the extraterrestrial within a society of extraterrestrials!

Black Fuska:

Black Fuska, pg. 1, art by Roho

              Last, but definitely not least, we arrive at the mysterious tale of the Black Fuska, written and illustrated by Roho. The first installment of this story is will make your jaw drop and give you goosebumps from the suspense. I'm not an art professor by any means, but what I can say about Roho's work, particularly Black Fuska, is that his art has it's own distinctive style, and utilizes the contrast of black and white extremely well. He has one of those uniquely visually appealing styles that is capable of really sucking the reader into the story. 
              In addition to the artwork, Roho's story has a unique and mysterious plot that leaves readers dying to know more. We are introduced to our main protagonist, a mysterious Uruguayan  motorist, driving his "Black Fuska," through a nasty storm. Despite the weather, he seems to be making the best of things while stuck on the road, singing along to a cassette tape and chugging tasty orange Mirandas, by the dozen. (Uruguayan orange soda pop children) However, things take a turn for the worse when the storm sends a comet straight for the Black Fuska!
              The impact of the collision with the comet sends the Fuska ass-tearing off the road and far into a cornfield. If that's not bad enough, during the whole "ass-tearing" period, it seems our protagonist is seeing strange dreams or visions of cats and strange men! When he regains consciousness, he finds himself on a beach staring into the eyes of a portuguese lifeguard we later come to know as "Ananda."Ananda does her best to nurse our hero back to health, but all he wants to do is find his car, the Black Fuska! Lost and hopeless, at least for now, the driver of the Black Fuska explains what happened to him with the storm and the comet, in hopes of the smallest of comforts from Ananda. Unfortunately for him,  Ananda replies that it hadn't even rained, let alone stormed where they were, (which was Capao Da Canoa, Brazil, 1989), in three days! WHAT??!!! Nothing is making sense for our driver friend, and it is not unlike one of those awesome episodes from The Twilight Zone in which the protagonist gets lost in a different dimension or time period. This was such a cool read, and I cannot wait to see what happens in part two!

               Well there you have it ladies and germs. If there was any doubt that the gang over at BCR and Riverbird Studios could do sci-fi, it is now crushed like an ant under Juggernaut's boot. With cool, original story concepts, incredible, captivating and highly-detailed artwork, and a  multi-issue continuity that will hook you by the lip like a big trout! (Well, if trouts read comic books) Stay tuned for more of my reviews of Outbound #2 and #3, as well as other BCR anthologies newly released and from the vault!