His and Her’s: Top Ten DC Comics Live Action films

In Honor of theDC Fandome event, we wanted to honor the greatness of DC Comics in media. This is going to being the first of lists that we come up with during the pandemic. Here we are going to countdown 10-1 of our favorite DC comics live action film, with our list consisting of different films. We are not looking at the DCEU, but DC as a whole. Don’t worry, a MCU and Marvel list will come in the near future, yes two separate lists for Marvel films.

His # 10: Man of Steel , Her # 10: Birds of Prey

Both of films have their defenders and haters, but we enjoyed both films. Let’s start with Birds of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan and screenplay by Christina Hodson, takes the best aspect of Suicide Squad in Harley Quinn and gives the character a spotlight. Margot Robbie improves on her characterization of Harley Quinn. Despite the characterization not being comic accurate, introducing characters such as Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor in a villainous role), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Helena Bertinelli/ The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to a mainstream audience was awesome to see. The real highlight of the film is Jurnee Smollett’s performance of Black Canary, as she commanded the screen throughout the film. To us, Birds of Prey was a Harley Quinn comic coming to life, as most of the time reading Harley Quinn, you just don’t know what to expect. As a female Centric film, Nora loved every aspect of the film. Birds of Prey barely missed the cut for Kyle.

Spoiler alert, Man of Steel will be on this countdown again. If it was not for Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill would be the definitive live action Superman. Personal opinion, the man could be perfect as superman with the right script. It has a brilliant cast with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane playing Jonathan and Martha Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Michael Shannon in an underrated performance as the evil General Zod. Remember leaving the theater, wanting more and each time we watch Man of Steel, we want a true sequel.

His #9: Batman Returns, Her #9: Batman Returns

Holy crap, Batman we agreed upon here. Up until earlier this year, Nora had never seen Tim Burton’s Batman (she lived under a rock for twenty-six years), to change that we obviously had a Batman marathon. After we finished the marathon, Kyle asked the question of what was your favorite? She replied with Batman and Robin…… no shockingly she picked the 1992 sequel. Batman Returns is a favorite for us mainly due to the three core villains that carry the film and the Burton design throughout the film. Let’s start with the first villain in Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck, within the first ten minutes of the film, you hate the guy. When watching the film, you can sense that Walken was having fun with the character. The second character is that of Danny Devito’s Penguin, Burton created a nasty version of a well known Batman character and Devito’s performance as the character makes the character jump off the screen. But the true MVP of Batman Returns and the main reason it is on this list is due to the Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman. Twenty-eight years later and we still have not had a performance of Catwoman that surpass that of Pfeiffer’s, but lets hope Zoe Kravitz can in the upcoming The Batman. We are both hoping that she will be the perfect fit for the role.

His #8: V for Vendetta, Her #8: Dark Knight Rises

Much like Man of Steel, V for Vendetta will show up on this list again as we disagree on the placement of the film. V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue and screenplay by the Wachowskis, takes the brilliant graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd and creates an unforgettable film. The film is carried by performances of Hugo Weaving as V and Natalie Portman as Evey. Up until this film, I was not a fan of Hugo Weaving and now he is among my favorite actors due to this film. On the 5th of November, V for Vendetta will be on the TV in celebration of this fantastic film.

The Dark Knight Rises is the finale of the Nolan trilogy with Tom Hardy’s Bane as the villain and the introduction of Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle. Nora was surprised to find that the Dark Knight rises did not crack his top ten. It is a phenomenal film that is overshadowed by another film in the trilogy. The action is great with an opening scene that is unforgettable. If this list was based on the best DC films then this would have been on both lists. We are both waiting for the Robin film starring Joseph Gordon Levitt.

His #7: Wonder Woman, Her #7: Aquaman

Patty Jenkins helmed the 2017 film that was long overdue and did it deliver in terms of greatness. Gal Gadot officially replaced Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman in this film and the “No Man’s Land” scene may be one of the most powerful moments in DC Comics films. The only thing that holds back this film, are the terrible villains. If it wasn’t for the poor version of Ares, this film would have cracked the top five films from DC. The chemistry between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor was a joy to watch as well, with Chris Pine being a great Steve Trevor. But now after just re-watching the film, the Ares portrayal was not as horrible as seen and perceived after the first viewing (at least to Nora).

As Wonder Woman acts a “fish out of water” tale, Aquaman showed that Atlantis needs to be explored more in live action. The Direction of James Wan proves that he can helm a superhero film and Jason Momoa proves that Aquaman is no longer a joke. Nora desperately wants more of Aquaman and Atlantis in film.

His #6: Superman 2 The Richard Donner Cut, Her #6: Man of Steel

The last time there will be a Superman film on the list but while doing this list, we realized how much of an impact that the character has had on superhero films. Granted that may be an obvious comment, but in today’s superhero films landscape, the important of Richard Donner’s Superman can be forgotten.

As a kid, Kyle remembers loving Superman: The Movie and Superman 2. Later on in life, he would finally watch the Richard Donner cut and holy crap it was like visiting the film for the first time. The cast is absolutely brilliant in the film with Christopher Reeve as Superman/Clark Kent, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane (the best love action Lois), Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and Terrence Stamp as General Zod.

That being said, we both hope Henry Cavill gets the chance to start as Superman in another film. Fingers crossed!

His #5: Shazam, Her #5: V for Vendetta

Did not expect to love Shazam as much as Kyle did. It was another example of great casting. Zachary Levi was perfect as Captain Marv…. I mean Shazam. The film felt like Big was smashed together with a superhero film. It’s just a fun film wonderfully directed by David F Sandberg that brings humor to the DC universe. In the recent DC films, Shazam has the best villain next to Aquaman’s Orm.

Nora’s reaction to V for Vendetta was that of “holy crap, this film is powerful” and a absolute love for Alan Moore’s masterpiece.

His #4: Watchmen, Her #4: Watchmen

Here is another film we agree on. We both love Watchmen and we know that this may be an unpopular opinion but this is Zack Snyder’s greatest film. Besides not involving a killer squid, Watchmen is ripped right from the pages and placed on the screen. Now you may realize that Batman Vs. Superman is missing from the list and that is due to this film. We are huge fans of Snyder’s work and did not want the list to be filled with Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder, so that’s why Man of Steel and Watchmen have a place on this list.

The visuals are stunning throughout the film with Dr. Manhattan feeling like a serious threat throughout the whole film. The real standout performances belong to Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Jeffery Dean Morgan as Edward Black/ The Comedian. Despite the length, this is a film we can watch multiple times and find a new love for the film. (Look out for a in depth post on the film in the future). Side note, if you have not watched the HBO series, do yourself a favor and watch it even if you do not like the film or graphic novel. It pulls you in from the first episode. That being said, we are do for a rewatch of it soon.

His #3: Batman, Her #3: Wonder Woman

Jack Nicholson as the Joker and a killer soundtrack from Prince, if it were not for two other brilliant characterization of the sadistic clown, Batman would be Kyle’s all time favorite DC film. Tim Burton’s vision presented a gritty and comic accurate version of the caped crusader for the first time and superhero films would never be the same again. The film is cheesy but at the same time it’s a blast to watch even thirty years later. Micheal Keaton will always be Kyle’s batman and to know that Keaton is coming back as old man Bruce Wayne has us excited for the future of DC films.

Wonder Woman was the film that made Nora fall in love with comics, the story of Diana Prince. The feeling of female empowerment was overwhelming for her and the experience of viewing this in the theater caused a huge smile across her face. And she loves rewatching it over and over. Cannot wait for Wonder Woman 84, even though it will hit theaters in the middle of a pandemic…

His #2: Joker Her #2: The Dark Knight

One performance can make a film great and that was the story of Todd Philips’ Joker. Joaquin Pheonix gives one of the greatest performance in Comic book film history as Arthur Fleck and won the academy for Best Actor for obvious reasons. Pheonix’s performance was not the only thing that stood out in the film as the score by Hildur Guonadottir. The film acting as psychological character study but also a social commentary.

We forced Nora to watch The Dark Knight on New Years Day when we found out that she had never seen the film. She was enthralled by what she saw and brought me enviousness as Kyle wanted to experience for the first time again.

His #1: The Dark Knight Her #1: Joker

We both feel like both films are among the greatest films in general. Walking out of the movie theater after viewing Joker, Nora would say “That is the greatest film I have ever seen.” Which was the same thing I said when walking out the movie theater for The Dark Knight.

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker will never be forgotten, its one of the greatest performances of all time. But as he was great in the film, so was the whole cast. Aaron Eckhart was perfect as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. For the sake of argument, lets just say both films are absolutely brilliant.

We do hope in the next couple years this list looks different as the future of DC comics films looks extremely bright.

Addressing Racial Inequalities Through Comics: The Books You Need to Read.

Comic books have a history of addressing the current political landscape and racial inequalities. Stan Lee has his famous Soapbox column that address bigotry and the X-Men have always been an allegory for inequality. In memorial of George Floyd, we were giving a half day off from work to reflect or watch the memorial service for Mr. Floyd. I want to take that time to recommend some books that address Racial inequality and have been an influence of studies and taste in my love for comics. This list will only provide a short summary of the stories, as the idea is to get more to read these books.

March by John Lewis , Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell- Published by Top Shelf Productions

Written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell, March is at trilogy of books in black and white art that captures the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis. Each book in the trilogy focuses on different events during the Civil Rights Movement from the Freedom Riders in Book two to Selma march in Book three. March also takes place in 2009 with John Lewis preparing to attend the First inauguration of Barack Obama, this is where we find Lewis telling his story to a family in his office. This trilogy should be required reading in the educational system, much like Art Spiegleman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. In times like this, March provides a history lesson that is much needed and shows the meaning for fighting in what you believe in.

Black by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3 and Jamal Igle- Published by Black Mask Studios

Black is different in all the best kind of ways. The premise of the book being what if only black people had superpowers. Kareem Jenkins is gunned down by the police but survives and learns that he has superpowers and the government is keeping it a secret. It is a powerful story with commentary on racism and racial inequality. The cover of the trade paperback sends chills down the spine with a young black man with police surrounding him in riot gear. It is a mature book with lots of action and profanity, but the message and commentary blends effortlessly with the over the top action.

Bitter Root by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene- Published by Image Comics

Bitter Root is a fun series that allows a message to be told through monster hunting. It is currently ongoing and is on issue 7. The Sangeryes were once considered the greatest monster hunting family of all time by curing souls infected by hate. Using the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s, Bitter Root addresses racism by using the hatred as an infection that creates monsters. Bitter Root is another story for mature readers but it has humor and uses family dynamics to create a relationship with the characters. Sanford Greene’s artwork is stunning and chaotic at times. Of all the books on this list, this is the book that all comic fans can read and enjoy.

Captain America: Truth: Red, white & Black by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker. Published by Marvel Comics.

This is unlike any Captain America book that you will ever read. Steve Rodgers thought he was the only person to have been injected with the super-soldier serum, but he was wrong. This story is about the US government using a group of African-American soldiers as test subjects. It’s a tale of injustice and provides a great history lesson to go along with the typical Marvel story. Teenagers can read this book, as it’s not as mature as others on this book but still can be upsetting for some. Easily among my favorite Captain America stories.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru- published by DC Comics

The most recent entry on the list and did it send shockwaves through the comic community. Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “clan of the fiery cross” writer Gene Luen Yang crafts a tale of immigration and battling adversity. Using the symbol of hope in Superman, we see Superman protect a family and society from the evilness of the Klan. A very courageous book that is recommended for readers of all ages.

This list is only a few examples of comics and graphic novels that address social injustice and racial inequalities. Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams addressed it in their Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the early 70’s. Milestone comics in the early 90’s was a publication of all African-American creators creating new characters, produced well known characters like Static Shock and Icon. Comics have been a place for creators and readers to express their concerns about the current landscape of politics and society as a whole.

Physical Attraction: Don’t Let Comics Go Completely Digital

When Diamond Comics distribution was halted due the Covid-19 outbreak, the fear of the comic book industry dying was on the minds of readers and fans. A divide would develop in the community, some readers would complain about not being able to read their books and that the comic book industry should go strictly digital during this outbreak. But in my honest opinion, if comic books were to go the route of streaming, it would kill the industry. I am no industry insider, but the existence of physical comic books is the main ingredient for the comic book community.

When we go to our local comic shop, we spend most of our time talking to those in the shop and finding new discoveries. If comics were to go strictly digital, it would kill the direct market and any needs for a comic shop. To many of us that read and collect comics, the comic shop is our second home, the place where we find more than just comic books.

There is just something about going to this place every Wednesday for new comic books, a place that use to be defined by a stigma of being “just for guys”. I can honestly say in the years of collecting, each year I have gradually seen an increase in comic shops welcoming to all kinds of people and I hope those that feel ashamed of reading comics, can find themselves in a shop or at a convention. If it was not for physical comics, we could honestly say we would have never met some of our closest friends by meeting them in comic shops or conventions.

But beyond the impact that physical comic books have on the community, the feeling of holding them in your hands can cause a connection that a digital cannot provide. Stan Lee said it best when he compared comic books to boobs. Yes Stan Lee compared comic books to boobs, he said “comics are like boobs… they look good on a computer, but I’d rather hold one in my hand”

To put it another way, certain comic covers are like amazing pieces of artwork. For example, in our home, we have a wall of comics that cannot be displayed in the same way in the digital format. Our wall features commissions from local artists that may never work on a comic book. Also variant covers give collectors something to hunt down. Some may hate that a certain comic can have 20 different covers, but just think about the opportunity that gives an artist with a major comic publication. The comic community goes beyond the fans and the readers, it includes the creators as well.

Physical comics give collectors more than just something to read, it offers something they can own and take pride in. For example, finding a first appearance of a comic book character is a highlight and goal in collecting. Hell for my 28th birthday, Nora bought me the first appearance of Miles Morales and I consider it one of the best gifts I have received.

Beyond the value of a physical comic book and beyond a physical comic book acting as a piece of art that one can own, the most important thing that a physical comic can provide is the connection between the reader and the comic shop. The idea that purchasing a physical comic book can play in the role of keeping a local comic shop alive is the most important thing.

Also if I can suggest something, please don’t belittle or call physical comic book readers “dinosaurs”. The Wednesday warriors and comic collectors are key in the survival of the comic book. We may spend $4-$5 on a single issue resulting in a hefty price on really good weeks, but once we spend that $4 to $5 dollars, we own that issue. We take pride in that ownership. Now what’s the point of spending $4 to $5 dollars on a digital copy? Also physical comics are not easily pirated, and pirating comics is worse than not buying comics at all, it’s stealing from creators. The people who make comics possible in the first place.

This blog may be against digital comics but I do understand the need for digital comics as well. It’s just as a collector and reader, it’s difficult to see the industry surviving if the collector and the comic shop are removed. Some web comics are absolutely brilliant and it may be a great way to introduce new readers to the hobby. But nothing can replace the feeling of holding an actual physical comic book.

That being all said, we were exited to learn about comics coming back on May 20th. Not to mention being excite with what the summer of 2020 has in store for us with great stories coming out like Death Metal and the spin-off/sequel to DCeased from DC Comics. There are many more books to include here, but with just those two, the future looks amazing.

The industry will not die, the creators will not stop creating and the fans will not stop their support.

We’re back and better than ever

Let’s address the elephant in the room, we disappeared on you guys, for which we apologize. But you may ask where have you been and why should I care? Well simply put, life got crazy with all the shit recently and not just Covid-19 related. The last couple month has consisted of major changes in our life and positive changes at that.

First I’m am a finally a college graduate. Done with school after 10 fucking long years. And second finally started a new career. It’s been quite busy lately but we are back!!!!

But with us being under quarantine for a little bit longer, it’s time to get back to this blog. Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs on physical vs. digital comics, countdowns & lists, and sharing our opinions on certain comics and comic related news.

We just want to thank you for discovering us or rediscovering….. and for those that have stayed with us, thank you for your patience. You guys are rockstars and please don’t be afraid to contact us. We love talking comics and everything geeky.

Wrestling with Geekdom

I am a fan of Comic books. I am a fan of professional wrestling.

These were two things that I would had never admitted to when I was a teenager. Those close to me, knew about the comics but not professional wrestling. I was heavily invested in wrestling till I was 13, once high school started it was something I would rarely think about. Comics, were not discovered till my early twenties. Now, as I finish up a long academic journey, I have found an interest in the two topics in my studies. The sociology of the comic culture and the wrestling culture have been present in many papers throughout the journey, but I never looked back and reflected on how they affect me.

Wednesday has become the day of the week for comic and wrestling fans, with new releases for comics. As well as NXT and AEW going head to head with some of the best wrestling on television.

But what does comics have to do with wrestling? I believe the fandoms co-exist due to the fact of simple storytelling. As well as the idea that both act as modern day mythology. In the wrestling ring, there is the good guy (baby face) and the bad guy (the heel), in comics we have the good guy (superhero) and the bad guy (the villain). Just from that standpoint, it represents a correlation, but it goes deeper.

Watching wrestling today, a viewer could tell the heel from the baby face much like a reader can from the pages of a comic book. Between Baron Corbin shoving dog food in the face of Roman Reigns or Bane takeover Gotham City. The two examples show that wrestling and comics have similarities in the method of telling stories.

Also the fans are another example that causes this idea of wrestling and comics to collide . Fans of a certain wrestler will follow them throughout their whole career rather they are good or bad, fans of Big Show have dealt with many changes in his character. Batman is an example in the comic industry where fans of the character will bitch about a writer on the series but still buy or read every issue due to the character.

As a fan of both wrestling and comics, I witness the toxic behavior of fans but also witness the pleasure that they both bring fans. As a wrestling fan I look forward to pay per views especially the royal rumble and wrestlemania even if I don’t watch wrestling every week. I find myself returning for a couple months. In comics, I am in a shop at least once a week and if one of the big two (Marvel or DC) have a epic event planned I have to read it.

There is just something about both wrestling and comics that brings people together even if they don’t partake in reading or watching every event. If WWE or AEW is in town, we try to buy tickets to the show. If there is a comic convention in town, you bet we will be there. It’s the community of both that allows for a love to be gained beyond what is created by wrestlers and comic creators.

If you haven’t yet, read Aubrey Sitterson’s The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling or Michael Kingston’s Headlocked series as they are prefect examples of how comics and wrestling work together.

The near future for both wrestling and comics has me excited right now between the return of Edge in WWE and Jon Moxley destroying it in AEW. In the comics world, Donny Cates is writing a crazy version of Thor that I can not get enough of and the announcement of Dark Knight: Death Metal, it is a great time to be a wrestling fan and comic fan.

It’s No Laughing Matter: The Academy Awards and Comic Book based Films

Remember (if you are old enough) celebrating the performance by Heath Ledger on February 22, 2009 when he won Best Supporting Actor posthumously for the Dark Knight at the Academy Awards. His portrayal of the character left all of us speechless, at that time it was the greatest performance in a comic book based film. That was eleven years ago (start counting the wrinkles, cause we are getting old) and we have another actor nominated for Best Actor for the same role in Joaquin Phoenix’s breathtaking performance in Joker.

With the news of Phoenix’s nomination, a question popped in my head, are comic book based films finally being recognized as award caliber films or is it just the Character of Joker?

It could be argue that Joker is a special film and should not even be in the same category of comic book based films. The reasoning because it was different from the traditional film we get from the genre and that it was Todd Philips own story. But, it is based on a character that originated from the pages of a comic, so it has to be included in the discussion of films. The fact that it is different, that it acts more like Taxi Driver than Batman, gives us hope that future projects in the genre could result with the same accolades.

A little breakdown of the eleven awards that Joker has been nominated for (it’s a long list): Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director for Todd Phillips, Best Original score for Hildur Guonadottir, Best Adapted Screenplay by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Best Cinematography for Lawrence Sher, Best makeup and Hairstyling, Best costume design, Best film editing, best sound mixing, and Best sound editing.

Joker has become the most nominated comic book based film of all time after beating The Dark Knight‘s eight nominations and Black Panther‘s six nomination last year. Truthfully I am still surprised that Michael B. Jordan was not nominated for his performance as Killmonger, but becoming the first comic book based film to be nominated for Best Picture is still an amazing feat. As I am surprised about the lack of nomination for Jordan, I was upset with Green Book winning best picture last year, it should had gone to BlacKKKlansman or A Star is Born.

So this marks the second year in a row that a comic based film has been nominated for best picture, so is that a good thing for the future? The answer absolutely. These are films that we want to see and to see them be awarded is amazing. Personally I don’t see the genre going the way of the western especially if films like Joker, Logan, Road to Perdition (yes, based on a comic) and A History of Violence (based of a comic as well) can come from the medium.

As for Marvel, will they ever have a film win Best picture? I don’t want to say no, but they would have to take a risk like DC has. Who knows maybe The Eternals could be an amazing film, I know the book by Neil Gaiman was fantastic. Also Sony has the spider-verse, which has already snugged a best animated film award. If Joker has proven anything, its that with the right director and crew, a comic book based film could win Best picture. All the studio has to do, is let the filmmaker work on their vision. That is why I am excited for Ava DuVernay’s New Gods with Tom King as a co-writer, if DC and Warner Bros continue to leave filmmakers with their own visions, we may see another film like Joker.

It is easy to compare Marvel and DC films, Marvel will always be this box-office juggernaut and DC has the opportunity to become a mainstay in Oscar season if they leave the filmmakers alone. With Patty Jenkins doing Wonder Woman, Matt Reeves with The Batman and James Gunn with The Suicide Squad, DC is in good place.

I think I need to end this with saying I love the MCU, the films are fun and feel like comics. I always cry watch Avengers: Endgame and Thor: Ragnarok is among my favorite films, but I feel like the future is really bright for DC and as a comic fan that has me excited for the future. Come February 9th, I will be rooting for Joker as it would be great for a film to be based on a comic to be recognized as the best of the year.

A Second Home: The Impact of A Local Comic Shop

Many of us have a place that we consider a second home. In our youth, it was our best friend’s home or the grandparents house. As we get older, our second home tends to change to fit with our personality and what we like. If, we are someone that looks like Dwayne Johnson (Not me!) its the gym. If we are someone that is fighting for a promotion, the second home becomes your job. But what is the second home, to a fan of comics, to someone that eats, sleeps, and breath comics?

I think it is pretty obvious to admit that Nora and myself have an investment in comics, so we consider our local comic shop(LCS) to be our second home. Shout out to Issues Needed in Apple Valley, Minnesota ,as over the last year it has shifted from a comic shop we visit every once in a while to the shop we have to visit weekly.

So why do we consider our LCS our second home?

It comes to down to the attachment to the shop and the crew. In the couple years of collecting comics and become Wednesday warriors, we have had a pull list at a few shops. I will admit that it was disappointing to cancel a pull list. It is almost like breaking up with a significant other, you build a relationship with the crew, only to say you have found someone better.

Unless you move or absolutely have to cancel a pull list, it is something that I would advice against. The pull list is the first thing to gain you entry into the comic community, by that I mean committing to a pull list, shows the shop that you will be loyal to them. The crew at this shop will recognize you and even spark a friendship.

When we walk into our LCS, the first thing we hear is “Hello Kyle and Nora” or usually “Hey Nora” (She is loved at the shop). The feeling of walking into a shop that sees a good amount of people and to be recognized, it creates this feeling of belonging. If you read the previous post by Nora, you will see that belonging to a subculture or community was lacking and something that she now cherish.

I know we live in the era of digital comics, but personally you do not get the same joy of walking into a comic shop every Wednesday to pick up your pull list. The personal connection and communication with someone with the same interest is the main reason why the LCS is important to the comic industry and needs more support. Granted it may be cheaper and more convenient to get comics digital or even off a discounted website, but saving 20 cents to a dollar is not worth cutting out the communication you will find at a LCS. Also most shops will give you discount, if you have a pull list with them.

The best part of picking up a pull list is the relationship with the store. Yes, you look forward to reading the comics, but discussing them with the owner or store assistant makes the experience worth so much more than the expense you pay for the comics. The majority of comic shops we have visited, we have spent most of the time talking to those that work in the shop than shopping. That is not something you will find shopping online.

Another thing that is great about a LCS is the acceptance of different opinions. We went to the release party of Detective Comics #1000 and everyone at the party felt differently about Batman, DC Comics, and the Comic Industry. Yet, we were all discussing the best variant cover for the release (Bruce Timm’s variant) and the best live action batman (Michael Keaton without question) without any anger being shown. That is another thing you will not find online, people with different opinions getting along.

If we spend 5 minutes or 5 hours in a LCS, it doesn’t matter because no matter the time we spend, we feel at home. So, basically this is a way of saying thank you to any LCS, as you keep the community strong.

If you want to shout out any LCS, please do so, show some love to the place that brings you joy every Wednesday. Or even argue why you prefer to read digitally and shop online.

Shame! I Know I Need to Read These Comics.

After admitting to these heinous crimes I will feel like Cersei Lannister, while you chat “shame” at me, but I am about to admit to not reading some of the greatest stories in comics. Now, before the judgement is forced upon me, let me defend myself. I did not start reading comics till closer to my twenties. Besides Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke, my reading would consist of a Deadpool trade once in a while, it would be around 2016 when I dove head first into reading comics. This list was inspired by the podcast “Stegman and his Amazing Friends” and a conversation between Nora and I on the way to our local comic shop.

Crime #1) Brian K Vaughn

Yes I am starting off the list with not one single series or book, but an author. Thinking about it, I have never read a story by Brian K Vaughn. The messed up thing, Nora has read the entirety of Saga and Paper Girls in the last two month. So, why have I not read Saga or Paper Girls if we have them collected? Truthfully, I have no damn clue why I have skipped over Brian K Vaughn. Looking at Saga, it has a intimidation factor to it, with the size of the recent compendium (collecting the first 9 volumes and features 1400 pages) that could be a reason or it could be the fact I know I will be instantly hooked and would get lost in the 1400 pages.

As for his other works, Paper Girls, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, and Y: The Last Man I believe that it comes down to my attachment towards superhero comics and the big two. This will change soon, as I plan on reading Saga sooner than later.

Crime #2) The Sandman

This is probably the one series I am most ashamed for not reading. Being a fan of Neil Gaiman and seeing Nora just fall in love with the series, I should have read it by now. But it is a series that I push aside for something else usually Batman or Spider-Man related. The worst thing about not reading this, is the fact that I have read Death: High Cost of Living and quite bit of Hellblazer/Constantine. In fact, the short animated film of Death that came with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, I found to be a damn masterpiece.

It’s hard to call Gaiman, one of my favorite writers knowing that I have skipped this series that he won an Eisner award for. But, Black Orchid and Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? are among my favorite stories. Not reading The Sandman, almost gives a feeling of revoking my comic nerd card. Hopefully by the end of 2020, I can say I have finished The Sandman, but that is something I said for 2018 and 2019.

Crime #3) Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye

This was a tough decision between Hawkeye or The Walking Dead and if it was not for seeing Fraction’s Hawkeye on many different lists on decade defining books, I would have put The Walking Dead here. Fraction is much like Brian K Vaughn, regretfully I have never read any of his work. But, I think the perfect place to start would be this series. From what I hear about this run, it is unforgettable and the best Hawkeye story, which has me intrigued.

Hopefully by the end of the year I will be able to have a different hall of shame list, but one of the best things about being a comic fan, its like being in school. Everyday there is something new that you’re learning or adding to your pile to read. Also look out for Nora’s debut piece soon, maybe she’ll do a Shame blog, which I can bet will be mostly Frank Miller’s work.

Why Ryan Stegman is my Favorite Comic Artist of 2019?

Last Thursday (the last comic release of 2019, damn that flew) Venom #21 was released with the iconic Spider-man artist Mark Bagley doing the artwork, and as much as I love Bagley’s artwork, I realized that Ryan Stegman was my favorite artist of 2019. Its not fair to compare Bagley and Stegman because the art in Venom #21 is still amazing, but Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman created magic together on Venom and Absolute Carnage.

As certain friends would call me a walking contradiction, I am aware that there are better artist out there who dominated 2019 as well. For example what Jamal Campbell has done with Naomi and Far Sector is nothing but breathtaking. Ian Bertram had me drooling over Little Bird (which if you have not read yet, do yourself a favor and read it. It is a damn masterpiece) and as I have These Savage Shores sitting on my bookshelf to be read soon with beautiful art by Sumit Kumar, I have to admit that Stegman had a lasting effect on me.

Before Venom #1 in July 2018, I knew of Ryan Stegman but truthfully I would say I was not a die hard fan. I was going into Venom with the idea that Donny Cates was going to write a crazy ass story like he did with Thanos Wins. Little did I know I was about to fall in love with the artist. From just the cover alone, it had a sense of beautiful action horror, the way he drew Venom was perfect.

Throughout the series, Stegman would continue to create a haunting rendition of a character that was pretty well established. In Venom #3, the evil deity of Knull is introduced in the story and Stegman’s art makes the character unforgettable. The first volume of Venom is the Stegman show and his partnership with Donny Cates, made the book one of the best surprises of 2018. Stegman couldn’t surprise me again, can he?

Cates and Stegman would continue to dominate Venom and turn the series into the second best series coming out of Marvel. (Immortal Hulk is the best, if you are curious) Then in March 2019 at C2E2, Marvel would announce the comic event of Absolute Carnage. We were at the show and I remember looking Nora straight in the eyes and saying “Holy shit, this book is gonna be huge.”

Sure enough the first taste of Absolute Carnage came in the form of the Free Comic Book Day exclusive Spider-Man and I needed more. The way that Cates and Stegman changed Carnage was crazy, he became this creature that would induce nightmares and yet it was so damn beautiful. Carnage went from being kind of scary to “shit my pants” scary with Cates and Stegman turning him into a monstrous skeleton like god. I am sure other artist could had pulled it off, but there was something to Stegman’s artwork that made this version of carnage unforgettable. As some critics would say, Stegman was born to draw the book and they were not wrong, for the entire event, Stegman went crazy and crafted the most insane artwork of the year.

The thing that makes Stegman’s artwork so enjoyable, is that it’s so messed up, I can pick up a issue of Absolute Carnage or Venom and show a non-comic fan and they would be grossed out. It reminds me of Spawn and the work of Todd McFarland and Greg Capullo in that sense, the insanity of the art causes an emotion. McFarland and Capullo are among my favorite artists due to growing up loving Spawn and Batman, and it is obvious that they had a impact on Stegman through his artwork and that could be a reason beyond my love for his art this year.

Is his frenetic style for everyone? no, but it he is the perfect artist for Absolute Carnage and Venom. It will be interest to seeing what he does next after Venom. I have to ask, what type of craziness would Cates and Stegman think of on a creator own book, if they ever got the chance to do one. I look forward to the future of Stegman and Cates, as they work together and other projects.

Also his podcast, “Stegman and his amazing friends” is a blast to listen to. It is a lot like Venom and Absolute Carnage, you never know what is going to happen next.

Hope You All Had A Merry Nerdmas!

Now, you may be saying “hey dumbass, nerdmas is not a word”, which you would be correct but see here is the thing, much like “Noggin”, Nerdmas means something to us, it is every Christmas that we spend together.

While we see our families on Christmas, Nora (Other half of Noggin) and I also have our own holiday. We take a Christmas tree (sometimes the size of a charlie brown tree) and we fill it up with funko key chains and superhero ornaments. And underneath this tree, our gifts are wrapped in strange and unique paper. This year it was Star Wars and Umbrella Academy.

While most couples give gifts that represent their love, we buy each other Funko pops and graphic novels. Nora got herself a first print of Black Hammer #1 and I am still waiting on her to get me a key issues of a book I love. Hint, The Batman Adventures #12 or Mister Miracle #1.

We promise that not every blog will be like this, we will break down comics, films, and video games but after hearing Nora wish me a Merry Nerdmas on Christmas, I had to write about it. Now we have a tradition, instead of having “All I Want For Christmas is you” playing, we have the Into the Spider-Verse Christmas EP playing with the DC Universe Yule Log on the TV. Also, Batman Returns is a Christmas Movie, we may have to add that to our tradition next year.

But as we get back to the daily grind, we hope that whoever is reading this had or is having a happy holidays.