Saturday, April 13, 2013

Classic gaming, discovering new gems is always a fun time.

One of my favorite things about retro gaming is finding new games that you've never had the opportunity to play before and trying them out for the first time to find that you've been missing out on something special for a very long time. This has been my experience since around 2006 when I got back into retro gaming after having been away from playing classic games since around 1998 or so, and it's been quite a fun experience.

I've been an avid fan of the Nintendo Entertainment System since the late 80's and most of my fondest gaming memories are from the early 90's when I really sank my teeth into the NES. A lot more of my love came for the NES between 1996-1997 when I was going through my “game room” years and during these times I've bonded with the NES quite a bit and it has become my favorite gaming system of all-time. In recent years I've rekindled my love for the NES through buying something called the “Generation NEX” by a company called Play Messiah, which is basically an NES system clone that is small and compact and plays NES and Famicom games. I immediately started buying classic NES games again through some local video game stores that carry retro titles as well as buying through eBay and other retro gaming sites, and I fell in love with the NES all over again through discovering games that I've either never played before or only played once or twice back when I was a kid. It's been quite a blast! During my most recent foray into playing classic NES titles I really wanted to discover games that I've either never had the chance to play before or have yet to really sink my teeth into. My goal was to check out some new games that would help to flesh out my collection of classics that I've spent more than half my life playing, and so far I've stumbled upon some titles that really have stood out and I'm sure I'll be finding even more as time rolls on. The first game that really took me by storm is a “3D” dungeon crawler called Swords & Serpents, a game that basically is an on screen first-person representation of the classic board game Dungeons & Dragons. Aside from the VERY annoying password system (you need a different password for all 3 of your characters), this game is an absolute joy to play and paved the way for the TSR's AD&D first person RPG's that hit PC's and consoles in the mid 90's. I played this game from beginning to end multiple times a few years back and it's only a matter of time until I sit down and do it again, it's really quite enjoyable and has left me with some fond memories through the time I had with it. Soon after that I discovered a port of a classic arcade game called N.A.R.C, which is a traditional 2-player side scrolling shoot em' up where you play as cops trying to take out bad guys who are supposedly dealing drugs. Picture Contra, but not as pretty. N.A.R.C is a game I was well aware of back in the early 90's but yet I never thought to rent it or play it at all, not even any friends of mine owned it. But in this era of retro gaming I've discovered it and am highly enjoying it. I think I remember this game being one of a few machines that were inside of a local skating rink that featured a handful of arcade games back in the early 90's, and I definitely remember it being featured in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the scene where Danny is hanging out in Shredder's clubhouse (or whatever). Regardless, if you're into two player co-op shooters like Contra, or any kind of two player games in general, than give this one a shot.

 A set of titles that have ticked my fancy as of recently have been the Adventure Island series, which are once again games that I was well aware of back in the day but never paid any attention to despite their popularity. A month or so back I was playing Adventure Island (the first one) almost every night as I tried my hardest to advance through the game, but let me tell you, this game is NO cakewalk and is one of the hardest side-scrolling platform titles I've ever had the chance to play. After about 2-3 weeks of playing every night and learning the levels I was able to finally finish it and move onto the second game. Adventure Island II is a fun game and they've added a lot of different things to it to give the game a challenge and to make it different from the first, but I preferred the first game more and immediately went back to play it. Unfortunately I can only get through about half of the game this time around and am once again stuck, lol. I guess I will just have to re-learn the levels like I did the first time around. As for the second game, I returned back to that one and cannot seem to beat it as it gets extremely hard about halfway through. Adventure Island II is still an amazing platform title, I'd say it's very addictive and offers the player a fun (if not hard) experience, but the first Adventure Island has become something of a personal favorite of mine since I began playing it a little while back. Also, I've stumbled across a game called Star Tropics over the past several months, which is yet another game that I knew of but unfortunately ignored when I was younger despite my father once asking me if I wanted that game or something different circa 1990 during a trip to a local toy store. Man, what was I thinking by not ever playing this game! Seriously, it's a lot like the original Legend of Zelda but with prettier graphics and a deeper story and the game is an absolute blast to play. I have played through it twice, the first time just to screw around and the second time to really take in everything there is to do (which is a lot). It's 6 hours of pure gaming bliss and I highly recommend it to my readers who happen to be retro gamers, if you truly loved Legend of Zelda than you'll adore Star Tropics.

In retro gaming there is always a little something for everyone. You're given the chance to play games spanning multiple decades, multiple systems, multiple categories, with multiple people or all by your lonesome. There is a huge world to discover when playing classic video games, you just have to take the time to do it. I'm so glad that I've stumbled upon many classic games that I've yet to have the chance to play, now that I'm getting around to playing them I'm finding more and more than the fun and wonder of retro games is so much better than the modern crop available in every major store in the United States or around the world. Sure, today's games can be fun, but let's face it.......nothing beats classic gaming on the NES, SNES, Genesis, 2600, PSX, or N64. The golden age of gaming may be over, but the roots in which it planted will never die and I encourage everyone reading this to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the games you've known and loved your whole life and to discover something new while your at it. Feel free to message me on Twitter @Manga4life and let me know of your favorite classic games and if there is something I should be checking out, I'm always open to new suggestions.

And that does it for another entry here at The Thought Corner! As always, you can catch me over at the CBR forums, forums, the Retro Roundtable, and the official Dynamite Entertainment forums, or you can hit me up at Twitter @Manga4life. Take care everyone!

© 2013 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Valiant Entertainment: One year later.......still the absolute best.

Well, it's been just about one year since Valiant Entertainment has been publishing comics and as everyone who knows me knows, I'm a massive nu-Valiant (VEI) fan. Ever since I found out they were going to be publishing comics once again I've sat back and listened not really knowing if it would be something I'd truly be into and wondering if it was just going to be another failed attempt to bring some some old comic book company in a market that really can't support it. Boy am I glad I was wrong! Now, before you read this blog I want you to know this isn't going to be an entry about how Valiant is back and putting out comics based on properties the original Valiant owned some 20+ years back, I've already covered that some months back. Instead, this installment is going to serve as kind of a “how have the comics been” kind of post.

First off, I just want to say something that I truly felt I'd never say as a comic book collector. What I'm about to say struck me as funny because I've always held the years between 2000-2003 as my absolute favorite comic book collecting years alongside 1995-1998. Between 1995-1998 I was deep into X-Men titles, primarily Uncanny X-Men and the self-titled book that was on store shelves at that time, as well as DC's Sovereign Seven in which I held in high regard as my absolute favorite comic book. Those years were absolutely magical for me, and then 2000-2003 came along and I was introduced to the Crossgen “Sigil-verse” and it became my absolute favorite comic book line up of all-time. Never again did I think I would experience as much joy as I did during the few years I actively collected Crossgen books. There was just an awesome feeling I had inside when I visited my local comic shop to pick up the latest issues of the Crossgen books I was into, when the publisher folded I felt like my time in comics was at it's end (though it wasn't). And then in 2012 something happened. A new publisher called Valiant Entertainment was about to release a line of comics based on a bunch of early 90's properties by another company with the same name that I cared nothing for, but yet a small part of me wanted to give them a try. I knew almost nothing about the old Valiant and felt that this was probably just going to be another failed attempt at a former publisher making it's return to comics, but I just wanted to check out the first issues of these books anyhow just to see what the hype was about. I'm sure glad that I did. As many who know me already know, X-O Manowar and Harbinger have absolutely floored me to the point of no return. The story presented in X-O Manowar has officially ranked alongside some of the best comics I've ever read, which is something I never thought would have happened. I was so hooked on the first issue that I was literally climbing the walls in suspense of what was to come in issue #2. It's been a long time since I've felt like that (Project Superpowers, maybe.). As the story of X-O Manowar unfolded month after month I found myself turning pages with child like excitement wondering what was going to happen next, when a comic book happens to make me feel this way it's such a welcome feeling because I feel like most comics have gotten complacent in the past several years and the Valiant books don't have that feeling to them. Harbinger has been the other gem of the line up and has probably been the book with the highest critical praise by fans and reviewers. And for good reason, this book reads out so well that you can't help but to fall in love with the characters and share emotions with them as they roll along. I've felt scared, happy, sad, and enraged with every step this team has taken and the fact that emotion is running this wild so early on in a series is amazing and should be considered a testament to the creative staff on this book. It's simply amazing on ever level possible.

So in short, how has X-O Manowar and Harbinger been through their first 10-12 issues? Simply amazing and some of the best comic books I've ever had the chance of reading. So, what about the other books in the line? Well, those have been pretty spectacular as well. Shadowman has a nice horror/dark feel to it that really resonates with the reader, it also features some of the coolest villains in comic books at the moment with the recently deceased Mr. Twist and the nefarious Darque. The book is illustrated masterfully and really holds it's own against any comic on store shelves today with pencils, inks, and colors that give the book a wonderfully dark ambience. The initial arc of Shadowman started off really good but took a dip toward the end (had to be honest here), but the book rebounded with pocket aces when issue #5 hit store shelves and really planted a foot into the ground as one of the single best issues Valiant has published since it began publishing in 2012. Shadowman has proved itself in it's 5 issues that have already been published that it has what it takes to entertain and I highly recommend this book to the kind of reader who likes dark storytelling. Moving along to Bloodshot, which is a gripping tale that features some amazing supporting characters and some pretty gruesome moments as the lead hero tries to figure out who he is and what is going on around him. The story seems to be the strong part in this title, however the art does seem to range from good to “meh” depending upon what is happening in the book and the guest artists have been less than stellar in my opinion. But it is what it is and Bloodshot offers a compelling tale with amazing characters that really offer the reader something special, the art I could honestly take or leave. Picture Wolverine but with a more military style storytelling with a tinge of superheroics. It's hard to explain, but trust me, it's a fantastic read. The last book of the bunch has received tremendous critical acclaim but I am personally not a fan of it. The book is called Archer & Armstrong and it's a story about two polar opposites who are forced to team up together in a weird mix of action, adventure, and comedy. It just wasn't my mug of beer but it does appear to be well received by fans and critics alike. The one thing I do have to mention about Archer & Armstrong is that if you really want to get into the mythos of the Valiant universe that you really need to read this title. It features some supporting characters who will obviously play an intrical part within the unfolding of the universe and many A-list Valiant characters have been profiled in this title early on, including Eternal Warrior (who seems to be an important character). Even though I wasn't too high on Archer & Armstrong that doesn't mean it's not a good book, it's getting praise for a reason but it just wasn't my style of book but that shouldn't steer you away from trying it out. Picture a large drunk teaming with a man on a mission in a tale that has a tinge of cult and religion to it and you have A&A, if it sounds intriguing that check it out.

At the end of the day I would say that in the past year of publishing Valiant has stolen my heart and has really become my favorite publisher in the comic book industry. For years that title belonged to Dynamite Entertainment but with quality titles like X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Shadowman, Bloodshot, and new titles forthcoming such as Quantum & Woody, it's hard to see anyone taking Valiant's throne from them. The comic book industry has noticed and every major comic book review web site and publication has praised Valiant for what they've been doing since last May and the company has won numerous awards to close out 2012. What will 2013 bring? Well, Quantum & Woody has already been announced, the Harbinger Wars crossover between Bloodshot and Harbinger kicks off this spring, X-O Manowar has already started it's Planet Death storyline which is prepping to be a modern epic that will be remembered for years to come, and Valiant has said that there will be more characters and titles introduced by the end of the year. So it looks like we have a full plate ahead of us moving forward Valiant fans, I just can't wait to see it all come together. 

Well, that's all for this week guys! Catch me on or over at the CBR,, or the Dynamite Entertainment forums if you care to converse about anything or everything. Or simply watch this space for more content coming shortly, the gears of the brain are ticking and more great things are happening soon. Thanks for reading!

© 2013 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Help to save Dynamite Entertainment's "The Spider" from cancellation!

 Hello there everyone, it's your favorite web spider here bringing you a very special announcement that needs to be addressed immediately. As everyone well knows, I'm a huge fan of Dynamite Entertainment and it's line of pulp comics and have been vocal about them here on my blog. Well, recently it's been leaked that Dynamite was possibly planning on cancelling one of it's titles, The Spider, due to low orders and the CEO of Dynamite said himself that if the book didn't pick up that it would eventually come to an end. Well, the fans spoke out on the official Dynamite forums, the Comic Book Resources forums, and on Twitter and voiced their opinions that they wanted the book to stick around and that the series had a rabid and dedicated fan base that demanded to not be left in the dark. Nick Barucci (CEO) replied on the official forums that the book would continue on as long as they can support it but that things really needed to increase before any promises were made about it's extended stay. So what does this all mean, you ask?

  Well, I'm asking everyone, and I do mean everyone, to write into Dynamite via their official website, bug the forums, fire them off tweets @DynamiteComics, and to flood their Facebook at and let them know that you love the book and that you don't want to see it cancelled. The Spider is one of the best titles on comic book shelves today and is masterfully written by David Liss and illustrated by Ivan Rodriguez and formerly Colton Worley, it depicts the classic character known as The Spider in a modern day New York and is helping to keep pulp storytelling alive alongside the rest of the Dynamite pulp line and deserves it's place on comic book shelves. So please, do your part in helping to keep this book alive.Too many times publishers release a title and then cancel it because it didn't do as good as they'd originally hoped and instead of trying to fix it they just give it the axe, I'm hoping that Dynamite does not take this route and listens to it's fans by trying to fix the problem at hand. I have faith in them, their readers should too. Also, if you've never heard of the book before than please take some time to check out some of these pictures I've posted here on the blog and check this amazing title out. It's got pretty much everything you could ask for in a comic book with amazing art, fantastic storytelling, epic cliffhangers, and amazing characters, it may just be worth your time to sit down and try it out. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog everyone! You can hunt me down via Twitter @Manga4life, as well as over at the Comic Book Resources forums, the official Dynamite Entertainment forums, and and at Take care, everyone!

© 2013 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The World Heavyweight Championship versus the WWE Championship (UPDATED w/retraction)

For years now the WWE has had two “World Championships”, the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship and many fans of pro wrestling may be wondering exactly which championship is the top championship in the sport of professional wrestling. In this piece I will explain to you exactly which belt is the top of the top and the reasons as to why one belt is above the other as well as my own personal views of the title's and what each one means. But before going into my explanation I'm going to spoil my answer early as a way to tickle your palms before I unload the salt on the snowy road. The answer is the World Heavyweight Championship.

The WWE Championship is NOT the same championship as the WWF Championship or the WWF World Heavyweight Championship despite what many may think. When the WWE changed it's name from the WWF it had to basically re-design the company and all copyright’s and assets (including championships) had to be reset to reflect the name change. By doing this the WWE basically became a “new” company, and even though it seemed nothing more than a name change on the surface there was a lot more going on behind the scenes than what fans got to see on television or on paper. The WWE Championship is a direct descendant of the old WWF Championship (sometimes referred to as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship but does NOT share the lineage despite the ruse that the WWE puts on toward it's fanbase. Sure, you could just simply connect the two and that's usually what people do, but deep within it's core by legal definition the two championship's are separate from one another and should be seen as such.

So, why do I not place the WWE Championship above the World Heavyweight Championship, you ask? Well, the WWE Championship is a company title, that means that the holder is the champion of the WWE as defined by the name of the championship. The holder of the title is defined as the champion of World Wrestling Entertainment and is promoted as such, but that's really as far as it goes. The WWE Championship is considered to be a “World Championship” because it is the top championship in the WWE and the WWE is indeed a world-wide company which is aired on television all over the world, as well as the internet and since the holder of the belt is holding the top title in the WWE they are noted as being a “World Champion”. But, with that title comes limitations. There is a ceiling there that you can't break and that's the ceiling of the title being named after a single company, you cannot claim to be anything higher than that despite the WWE Championship usually getting the main event slot on a pay-per-view card. Think about it this way: Would you rather be the champion of a company, or champion of the world?
See, when you hold the World Heavyweight Championship there is an illusion there that the title is not just a company title, but instead a title that spans the entire world which includes hundreds of wrestling companies and promotions. Simply put, they don't call the title the “WWE World Heavyweight Championship”. You can go ahead and watch video tape from pretty much every title defense and you will see that it's simply noted as the “World Heavyweight Championship”, and aside from a small WWE logo toward the top of the belt you would never know that the championship came with any brand recognition. That creates an illusion that you are not just the champion of the WWE, but instead you represent the entire world as the champion of the sport of pro wrestling. That includes every major company, every promotion, every wrestler, and superiority above every championship across the entire world. That's a huge responsibility to bear if you're the holder of the belt, that put's you at the very top of the food chain. Sure, it's rare that a World Heavyweight Championship match headlines a WWE pay-per-view (maybe 2 or 3 times a year), but for my money the matches put on for the title outshine the WWE Championship matches for the most part (not always) and the competitors who have held the title over the past several years (Undertaker, Kane, Big Show) are what I like to call “legacy” competitors who are throwbacks to an older age of the sport. On top of all that, since the title does not come with a true company branding it could be noted that a World Heavyweight Championship match could take place outside of the WWE seeing as how there is no verbal branding, though I'm sure this would probably never happen again (though it has in the past). And going even more forward, if you try hard, and I mean really hard, you can almost piece together a lineage between today's World Heavyweight Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship contested back in 1905 by Gotch and Hackenschmidt, though that is a daunting task even more me (but it can be done). 

UPDATE 2/2/13: Recently I posted a blog where I stated that the WWE Championship was inferior to the World Heavyweight Championship and today I would like to actually retract that statement. The reason being is that a championship is only as strong as how it's owning company treats it and since the WWE treats the World Heavyweight Championship with less reverance than the WWE Championship than I have to give the WWE Championship the top billing. The WWE Championship is often defended in the main event of pay-per-views and if competed for against the top tier competitors that wrestle in the WWE, but with that said the World Heavyweight Championship is still a very prestigious title to hold, but it is not above the WWE Championship. Sure, being the World Champion should denote that you're the best there is at what you do when you're a professional wrestler, but in this case the WWE title is a “World Championship” and encompasses the fact that the WWE is the largest professional wrestling company in existance and it's champion is the highest ranking wrestler in the world. The World Heavyweight Championship is often defended earlier in the card on pay-per-view matches and is often held by a wide array of competitors ranging from top tier talent to mid-card talent and is not treated on the same level as the WWE Title.

So there you have it, my official retraction for my now infamous blog post that has reached a massive 8,998 views since it was put up mid last month. And if you've skipped the paragraph before this one I'll be happy to repeat myself once again. The WWE Championship is the main attraction in the WWE and is the top title contested by the competitors who wrestle both in the WWE and who compete around the world. And while I follow the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and ROH World Championship just as closely, the WWE Champion is regarded by wrestling fans and promoters as the sports top championship. 

Thanks for reading the blog, guys! As always, you can find me on Twitter at as well as over on such forums as,,, and Take care!

© 2013 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Valiant Entertainment: The absolute best publisher in comics.

Valiant. If you've read comics at any point over the last 20+ years you've heard the name and if you were a collector back in the early 90's than there is a very strong chance to had a few of their comics in your collection. After a long struggle rife with idiotic companies and other such bumps in the road, they're back in the saddle and they're better than ever!

Many know about the old Valiant Comics that published such titles as Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior, Shadowman, and Turok, but you may not know about Valiant Entertainment. Valiant Entertainment is NOT the same company that was known as Valiant Comics back in the early 90's, they're a completely different company who has stepped out from the shadows to gain the license of many of the original Valiant Comics characters that were so successful in the 90's so that they could publish comics based on these characters in today's market. Without getting into the story about the legal battles and the old Valiant Comics, I want to focus on the NEW Valiant and the titles in which they have been producing and plan on producing in the near future. Rebooting the characters back to day 1 and focusing on putting out quality books with superior art and great storytelling was the goal of Valiant Entertainment and they decided to launch the line with a promotional campaign titled “Summer of Valiant”, and so far they're off to a fantastic start. They kicked things off in May with X-O #1 which as of this writing has had orders of over 50,000 copies with 4 printings, a feat that is VERY rare in today's struggling comic book market. X-O Manowar is a story about an ancient warrior named Aric who is kidnapped by a race of aliens known as “Vine” and kept in lockup for a number of years which led to him and his captured comrades to break free. Aric stumbles upon a set of armor that is worshiped by the alien race and when he put the armor on he was transformed into an even more powerful warrior than he was before. The second book was Harbinger in June, a title that revolves around a young man (Peter Stancheck) who is recruited by an organization via a man named Toyo Harada thanks to his exceptional powers. Harbinger was followed by Bloodshot in July, which is a story about a man who literally can't die and is sent out into suicide missions by the military only to be betrayed and have it revealed that he was implanted with false memories of his personal life. And the final of the 4 initial titles is Archer & Armstrong in August, a book that teams up a skilled archer with a stumbling drunk that has hilarious religious overtones and a strong story behind it. So far it's been announced by Valiant that all 4 #1 issues have sold out through Diamond and high sales figures and multiple printings have been the norm since Valiant Entertainment entered the comic book market, this is a success in independent comics that has not been seen since the day's of Image when they were tearing up the sales and orders charts in the early to late 90's. And Valiant isn't done yet.

Launching in the Fall was a title called Shadowman with other possible books hitting shelves in Spring of 2013, rumors of Valiant releasing titles based on Eternal Warrior and Rai still loom but many believe that they could just be used as side characters in existing books similar to how Ninjak is currently being used in X-O. One thing that is refreshing is that Valiant appears to be listening to it's fans with the announcement of Shadowman, while a good portion were excited for Eternal Warrior and/or Rai it seemed that the fan-base was absolutely thirsting for Shadowman and the publisher had it's ears wide open for us. Valiant has noted at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con that they hope to eventually have up to 15 titles on store shelves within the next few years, so far they've been very successful with the books they've released so 15 may not be out of the realm of possibility but many think that releasing that many books may hurt Valiant's goal of keeping strong continuity between titles. Either way, the publisher has more than enough characters in it's stable to support such a goal and if they capped off at 15 maximum titles than I could see this totally working out in their favor, especially if orders remain strong for Valiant throughout. Since the launch just before summer of 2012, Valiant has put into place a few other key things to ensure success with their titles that have fans scratching at the bit for more. “Harbinger Wars” will be hitting store shelves in 2013, this is slated to be a mini-series that will tie into the core Harbinger book and Bloodshot. And “Planet Death”, which is going to be a mega event kicking off in 2013 within the X-O Manowar book, and Valiant isn't done yet. The publisher is also teasing a universe wide crossover sometime in 2013 as well that will span all of their titles, but as of right now it appears as if they want to continue telling great stories within their books and building their universe one character introduction at a time.

Seriously, if you're on the fence about Valiant's books than I invite you to check out reviews of these titles on any major comic book review site, they're breathtakingly positive and some are calling Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and X-O the absolute best comics being published today. I'm inclined to agree. It's been years, and I mean YEARS since an independent publisher has thrilled me this much with their comics, the last time I truly felt this way was with Crossgen Comics back in the early 2000's when they had their “Sigil-Verse”. I used to walk into the comic book store multiple times a month and my excitement was at an all-time high when new Crossgen comics were waiting for me on store shelves, and for the first time since 2004 I truly feel that excitement again as I pick up my Valiant titles monthly. It's totally refreshing. Also, it's nice to have found a company that's putting out quality comics that seems completely stable. I've gotten involved with other companies in the past that were putting out great comics that nobody was reading, eventually they either stopped publishing them in favor of something else or they went out of business completely (Big City Comics, Aftermath Comics, Virgin Comics). But Valiant seems to have a game-plan and the owners seem to know what they're doing, as long as the sales remain high and the praise continues to roll in I expect the publisher to stick around for a long time to come if not forever. The just need to avoid the mistakes that the original Valiant made back in the day with partnering with other companies and trying to expand too much in too short of time, if they take the slow and easy approach than I see nothing but success in their future.

As always I would like to thank those who took the time to read this blog, I really appreciate your support and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can find me all over the web at places like Comic Book Resources forum,'s forum,'s forum, The Retro Roundtable, Dynamite Entertainment's forum, and Twitter ( Hope to see you around!

© 2013 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dynamite Entertainment's Pulp Fiesta, take two!

 The pulp universe currently being published by Dynamite Entertainment has been nothing short of fantastic and if you're not reading these books than from one comic book fan to another, shame on you. Ever since Dynamite began publishing classic pulp characters starting with Zorro back in 2008 they've kept a small focus on the medium but now they've dove in head first with amazing books such as The Spider, The Shadow, Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, Lord of the Jungle, and a super crossover event called “Masks”. These books have all thrilled their readers on many levels and Dynamite is planning on expanding the line with other classic heroes such as The Black Bat as well as some other possible surprises like Mark Waid taking on The Green Hornet and some Year One style stories based on The Shadow. Obviously there is a market for these pulp comics despite the pulp downfall of the 50's and I'm glad that Dynamite recognizes this and is doing their best to help revitalize these classic characters for a wider audience than they've been getting since their popularity demised back before many of this blogs readers were born (maybe even your parents).

This particular blog post is not really meant to be a long and deep account about Dynamite's foray into the pulp market, I've already covered that with a previous blog earlier this year, but instead I wanted to talk about some of the things that Dynamite is trying to do to keep the momentum for these pulp characters going and why you should invest in this line of books. First off the biggest and most important thing is the unification of these characters in Masks, an 8 issue limited-series that features characters such as Green Hornet, The Shadow, The Spider, Zorro, and The Black Bat meeting up for the first time in what could be seen as a Justice League style tale. On top of classic pulp characters we will also see characters from Dynamite's Project Superpowers line of books making appearances to help with the grand scale of this event. This title is wonderfully written by Chris Roberson and the first issue was fully painted by Alex Ross, if you love these characters and ever wanted to know what it would be like if they were all working together than this book is an absolute must buy for you. The first issue was so popular that it cracked the top 25 in the Diamond top 300 ordered comics for the month of November taking the 25th slot, that alone tells you that the market for pulp heroes is alive and healthy as long as you advertise your product. If that isn't enough for you, this book is the launching point for the 1930's pulp hero The Black Bat, a character that Batman was heavily modeled after. So much, in fact, that the owners of The Black Bat at the time took Batman's creators to court due to the similarities between both characters costumes thanks to Batman having his gloves modified to look more like Black Bat's. The acclaim for this series has been nothing short of amazing, almost every major comic review website has rated this book over a 9/10 and some have given the title a perfect 10 rating. That and the fan response has been tremendous with high sales, positive praise, and high orders for the second issue.

The Spider and The Shadow are two books that have really gained the mainstream attention for pulp characters in the modern era and have been insanely successful because of it. The Shadow remains one of Dynamite's top selling books every month and one of the most popular independent comics on store shelves while The Spider has garnered praise for it's deep story and amazing artwork. In order to make these characters relevant for today's audiences Dynamite has enlisted in talented writers such as Garth Ennis, Victor Gischler, and David Liss as well as amazing artists like Colton Worley, Jack Herbert, and Aaron Campbell to lead the creative process. Some changes have been made to these classic characters to kind of take them out of the 30's and into the 2000's with The Spider being given an amazing new costume to wear and The Shadow being given enhanced powers or persuasion thanks to a red stone ring that he wears, to some this may be a drastic change but mostly everyone has been in favor of the changes and it hasn't hindered the experience one bit. Sure, some fans have noted that some of these changes may have been a bit radical to the long-term fan, but what they fail to see is that Dynamite is presenting these heroes to a whole new generation, many of the fans who read these characters back in the 30's-50's are now either dead or are way to old to get out and buy one of these books and that it's the general comic book fans that will keep these titles alive. If you've ever been a fan of pulp characters or have ever been curious about these classic characters than these two ongoing books are sure to excite you, give them a shot and let me know what you think!

With Mark Waid jumping on board with The Green Hornet in 2013 he'll be relaunching the series which will star the original Green Hornet, if you've been reading the current Green Hornet book by Dynamite than you know that these stories have been based on Britt Reid's son and not on Britt Reid himself. The Green Hornet we will be getting is the Hornet that we were presented with in Matt Wagner's amazing Year One tale that Dynamite published some years back, that's a good thing in this reader's opinion. We've also seen a couple different series from Dynamite starring other pulp heroes, books such as Lord of the Jungle, Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist, The Last Phantom, Zorro, and even Warlord of Mars have graced store shelves and with DC loosing the rights to a group of classic pulp characters I could see Dynamite expanding this line heavily over the next two years. I truly believe that it is something they should consider doing as having an identity would be a good thing for the company, right now they just kind of do a mix-n-match of many different titles spanning many different mediums and becoming known as the “pulp company” wouldn't be such a bad thing. I guess time will tell what Dynamite has in store for it's little “pulp-verse” but I'll tell you this: If Dynamite decides to expand the line and bring in other classic characters from the pulp era, I know both myself and many other readers will be more than happy to pour their hard earned cash into whatever it is they're selling. Quote me on that.

As always I want to take the time to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated. Also, you can always check me out at as well as TZ and CBR, feel free to say “hi”.

Take care,

©2012 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC

Monday, July 16, 2012

Crossgen Comics - Taking a look back at the best time I ever had as a comic book collector.


As a comic book collector, once in a while something so special to you comes along that you hold it so close to your heart that when it comes to an end you actually feel devastated and feel like giving up the hobby as a whole. That happened the day I found out that Crossgen Comics was going bankrupt and closing up it's operation. I was Crossgen super-fan #1 and I credit the company with making me care about comic books again after about a year and a half of not really giving a hoot. Sadly, after X-Men went down the tubes in the late 90's and DC canceled one of my favorite comic book series ever (Sovereign Seven) I was left with little to purchase every month and relied on buying comic books such as Amazing Spider-Man, Captain American, and JLA, which were all books I somewhat liked but wasn't truly enjoying due to the ramification of the loss of my absolute favorite series. I still dabbled in Hitman via DC Comics and was enjoying that quite a bit, and I focused on getting other books like Crimson and Battle Chasers by Image's Cliffhanger imprint (despite their lateness), but my “love” for the industry was dimming and something had to be done otherwise I was about to give up completely.

For months I had been reading in Wizard Magazine that Marvel was planning to unleash a line of comics that were going to re-imagine the Marvel Universe. The line would become known as their “Ultimate” line and I finally had something to look forward to once those books saw release, but they were still months and months away. While visiting one of my local comic book stores I came across 4 books that were clumped together in a small corner of the store and they all had a #1 on the cover, I picked them up and flipped through them and decided that I would give 3 out of 4 titles a shot. The 3 books I picked up were Scion #1, Sigil #1, and Mystic #1, I decided against Meridian #1 because it looked to be the weakest of the bunch and I didn't have the extra cash to pick it up (though I did get it later on). The logo on the front of all 4 books was similar to a ying/yang and later I found out that all of these characters had this image branded to them and it would become a mark for “sigil-bearers” within the Crossgen Universe. Well, when I got home to read these comics I read Mystic first and really enjoyed the amazing art that this book features as well as the main character which struck me by surprise as I've never really read many comics at that time that featured a strong female lead other than a couple team books. I read Scion next and instantly fell in love with the “King Arthur” style tale and all the characters involved, especially the main hero Ethan and his nemesis Bron. I knew this book would be something special but what I didn't know is that it would become my absolute favorite series throughout the next couple of years being rivaled only by Ultimate Spider-Man and a team book by Crossgen called Crux. I finally got around to reading Sigil after that and while I felt it was a good book I didn't really like the artwork and I felt the book was a little to “sci-fi” for my liking, but I would continue on with the series until it's end. Actually, about 10-12 issues into the series the book got a new writer and artist and eventually became one of my favorite books by the publisher, it just took them a little while and I'm glad I stuck with them as Sam Rey and Tchulsarud battled throughout the universe in epic battles.

Some months after the #1's hit the stands Crossgen announced that more titles were coming and that the initial 4 titles released have been highly successful. It wasn't long until The First (a team book with cosmic beings who watched over the entire universe) hit the stands, followed by Ruse, Sojourn, and Crux. Crux went on to become my 2nd favorite title that Crossgen ever published and as the series went on a felt connected to this book much like I did with Sovereign Seven, my favorite comic book series that was canceled in 1998. Crux told the story of a team of Atlantians who went into a hibernation status and woke up in a future world that had been shattered to it's core. The lineup was fresh, the stories were fun, and the book featured countless supporting characters (Danik, Aristophanes, Thraxis) that helped the book to tell fantastic stories, which had just led me to a revelation of sorts. The revelation being that many of Crossgen's books featured supporting characters that were either as cool, or even cooler than the main characters in their respective books. A few characters that come to mind aside from the ones I had mentioned earlier would be Exeter (Scion), Garath (Sojourn), and Roiya (Sigil), all of which have really made their mark on me at one point and have been a key reason as to why I purchased these books. Well, soon after the second wave of titles came there was a slew of books in the third wave, and it seemed as if Crossgen was just getting started. Comics within the third wave included Brath, Route 666, Way of the Rat, Negation, Chimera, Solus, Mark of Charon, and others, but the only ones I personally cared about out of this bunch was Brath, Negation, and the Mark of Charon (which was a mini-series).


Soon after the third wave of books hit it was announced that there was going to be a line of comics that didn't connect to the “Sigil-verse” and that there was going to be a whole bunch of new and exciting things going on with Crossgen. The line of comics would become known as “Code 6” and Crossgen published a slew of books based upon existing properties such as Masters of the Universe, and Escape from New York. Some of the other things Crossgen began doing was publishing comics online through a strategy called COW (Comic on the Web), and publishing 5x7 digest format trade paperback's they called “Compendia” with a mix-match of titles within their line for a low price. I personally didn't care for any of these ventures and aside from Masters of the Universe I basically ignored Code 6 comics all together and never purchased any of their digests. Crossgen was one of (if not the first) comic book publishers to put their titles up on the web for digital viewing and they were pretty innovative with the Compendia line of digests, but sometimes being too innovative can come back and bite you in the ass and that's kind of what happened here with Crossgen. Things looked to be on the up-swing as they began releasing normal sized trade paperback's which were being stocked by Barnes & Noble as well as Borders, but once the retailer began carrying more and more Marvel and DC TPB's they started sending back their Crossgen product to the publisher for a refund. This hurt Crossgen and eventually they began to sink into debt with their creators which saw many up and leave the company before it's closure.

Despite the turmoil going on behind the scenes I was highly enjoying all the titles I was reading by Crossgen and for a solid 3 years they were without a doubt my favorite publisher on the stands. My friend Kenny (Stelfo64) bought into the company as I did and started buying titles like Sigil, Scion, Sojourn, and Crux, he found a comic book store near him where he was actually able to find the “Primer” sample comic and the “Crossgenerations” book by the publisher which was sent out before the #1's hit the stands and he was able to pick them up for me to help complete my collection. One time I remember fondly was when Kenny and myself walked into one of our local comic shops I took a swipe right for the new release rack and spent about a minute browsing around and when I turned around he had a stack of about 20+ copies of Sigil in his hands. He had started reading Sigil a year or so before and fell behind and this was his way of catching up. On top of that we hit up several other comic book stores that day and he ended up buying a slew of other Crossgen titles, investing heavily into the publisher and having fun being a comic book fan in the process. Isn't that what it's all about?


After the collapse of Crossgen I went through a bit of a down time similar to what happened when DC canceled Sovereign Seven. I was buying random titles like Batman, Superman, JSA, Amazing Spider-Man, and a couple of other random titles but I wasn't feeling them nearly as much as I did the Crossgen books and eventually I sold off my entire comic book collection which consisted of 9 long boxes and 2 magazine sized boxes full of comics (which I regret doing). About a year later I decided that I was going to get back into comics but it was going to strictly be through trade paperback's and that would be it, but eventually I went back to floppies and spent thousands to get back a solid amount of what I once had as well as tons and tons of comics that I've discovered over the past several years. I now have 7 long boxes full of comic books and it's growing rapidly as well as over 500 TPB's spread across 2 massive bookshelves, but imagine how many comics I'd have if Crossgen never bit the dust and was still publishing today. It's funny how I bonded with the company the way that I did, it was exciting to me and it really felt like home and that I was a part of something special. To this day I still see Crossgen fans bring the company up on random forums, and when I do I stop and smile while I remember the great times I had buying, reading, and collecting Crossgen titles. It was truly one of the biggest highlights I've had (or will ever have) as a comic book collector and I will always cherish those memories until the day I die.

As always I want to take the time to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated. Also, you can always check me out at as well as TZ and CBR, feel free to say “hi”.

Take care,

©2012 Cozy Cabin Publishing LLC