A Review of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 – Spider-Man Inc.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015)TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #1
AUTHOR: Dan Slott
PENCILLER: Giuseppe Camuncoli. Cover by Alex Ross.
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: October 7, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Toy companies love to put Spider-Man in cars, on motorcycles, vehicles in general. The frustrated fanboy in me really dislikes that. After all, he’s Spider-Man! What does he need a car for?

Low and behold, Dan Slott (who may be the definitive Spidey scribe of the last decade) and Giuseppe Camuncoli answer the question in The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Spider-Man doesn’t need a car. He wants a car. In this issue he gets that and more.

Part of Marvel’s “All New All Different” relaunch, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 shows us that Parker Industries has done rather well for itself. In addition to the new “Webware” smartwatch, Peter Parker’s corporation is developing tech for S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as his own Spider-Man ventures. He’s also got his very own Spidey body double in Hobie Brown, a.k.a. Prowler. But as Peter is spread thinner than ever at the head of Parker Industries, Spider-Man must face attacks from The Zodiac. What’s more, Parker Industries is facing attacks from within.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1, Giuseppe CamuncoliThis issue also comes with a nice little Spidey sampler, pulling from a few other different books in the Spider-Man line. Thanks to the events of Secret Wars, we’ve got no shortage of Spider-Man material out there.

This issue introduces us to Peter Parker’s new global initiative, not just as Spider-Man, but as the head of his own company. It’s a little bit like Batman Incorporated in that with help, Peter is trying to reach his fullest potential as a hero and a humanitarian. He’s got a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison in Mockingbird, Anna Maria Marconi working on tech stuff at the company’s London branch, his old friends from Horizon Labs running an institute for technology in San Francisco, and he’s got Hobie doing Spidey stuff when he’s not around. He’s also linked to Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. the Spider-Man of 2099. I can only assume he has ties to Miles Morales, who’s also swinging around New York. As such, the scope of this story is huge.

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 12.29.59 AMNaturally, there opportunities aplenty for the ol’ Parker luck to strike. I’m particularly interested in Peter using Hobie as an alternate Spider-Man. He flat out tells Peter he’s not comfortably in the role, and that’s demonstrated when he fails to stop The Zodiac at the wedding of Max Modell. Asking Hobie to assume his identity, while Spider-Man is also serving as a mascot of sorts for Parker Industries is a tall task. It’s also a giant risk that Peter may end up regretting.

There’s enough heart in Peter’s strategy with Parker Industries that you want him to succeed, but at the same time know it’s doomed to fail. Slott lets us know that Peter only pays himself a middle-management salary, which certainly makes him look heroic in an era where people love to talk about “the top 1 percent.” We also see him start the Uncle Ben Fondation, which believe it or not isn’t dedicated to rice in some way. But at the same time, lines like: “With great power…comes greater speed, storage, and battery life” feel wrong coming out of his mouth. This is the point, of course. It’s supposed to feel like an ill fit. So in that sense, Slott’s got something here.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2015), Peter Parker, fly downGiuseppe Camuncoli and the artistic team add some lighting to the Spider-Man eyes and chest emblem, which again, brings Batman Incorporated to mind. Camuncoli brings his usual blend of stylized realism to the mix. As it turns out, he draws a hell of a Spider-Mobile. And it looks damn good in what was definitely the most suspenseful comic book car chase I’ve seen in quite some time!

And so, the next chapter in Dan Slott’s historic run on Spider-Man continues. He’s been able to stay fairly consistent since he took over in 2010. So the smart bet is he’ll have taken us on quite a ride by the time Parker Industries comes crumbling down.

 Images from author’s collection.

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A Review of The Flash S2E1 – Excitement, Frustration, and Alternate Earths

The Flash, season 2 posterBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***Warning: Spoilers lay ahead for The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1***

Last season, The Flash turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It wasn’t without its hiccups, of course. But in the end, it turned out that DC’s television universe may be more interesting than the cinematic one it’s trying to get off the ground. Grant Gustin plays a pretty good everyman, and the show proved that not all superhero shows don’t necessarily need to be grim or gritty to succeed.

Let’s hope that success can continue this season. This episode was fine, but also surprisingly frustrating…

Our season 2 premiere reveals that Ronnie Raymond apparently died while helping The Flash stop the black hole in the season 1 finale. I found this development pretty lame. We’ve already done the whole “grieving over Ronnie” thing. This feels like we’re retracing steps from last season. Granted, this is a superhero story. It’s entirely possible that Ronnie is alive and well somewhere. But then we’re just retracing our steps yet again with the whole “finding Ronnie” angle.

The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1, image 1Still, Barry Allen pushing everybody away was a natural reaction to Ronnie’s death, if not a little textbook superhero. I also love that Caitlin doesn’t blame Barry for what happened. Personally, I’ve always liked the idea of Barry and Caitlin being together much more than Barry and Iris. With them both being scientists, it makes more sense. Hell, she even forgave him for his role in her husband’s death! She obviously cares about him deeply. Why not explore this?

In his living will, Harrison Wells inexplicably confesses to the murder of Nora Allen, resulting in Henry Allen being released from prison. This a trap. It has to be. There’s no way Wells, in defeat, would simply give Barry the one thing he wants more than anything. So what’s the punchline?

Also, I call BS on the whole “I have to leave so you can be The Flash” thing. That makes no sense at all. How would it hinder Barry to have his father there to encourage him? What’s more, Henry MAKES Barry tell him it’s okay to go away after 14 years in prison. Talk about a dick move. Between this and the Ronnie Raymond thing, it feels like they’re writing around the actors’ availability. But is that even the case?

Atom Smasher, The Flash, Season 2, Episode 1Adam Copeland, a.k.a. WWE’s Edge, plays Atom Smasher. I’ve actually never seen Copeland act in any environment outside of WWE. I was pleasantly surprised. He’s quite good at it. But that’s not really a surprise, considering what a sadistic jackass he played during the last several years of his wrestling career. He’s got a really cool grizzled bad guy voice too.

Barry and the others construct a “Flash-Signal” to summon Atom Smasher for a confrontation. Cisco: “I think I saw it in a comic book somewhere.” This was an eye-roller. If you want to wink at the audience about Batman, then at least be clever.

Atom Smasher reveals a person named “Zoom” told him to kill The Flash. Obviously they’re building toward the introduction of Professor Zoom, here. I’m curious as to how they’ll do that. For non-comic book readers, Zoom was an alias of Eobard Thawne, who died last season. The line about Zoom taking Atom Smasher home was also curious. Is this home an alternate Earth, perhaps? Speaking of which…

The Flash, Season 2, Jay GarrickJay Garrick makes his on-screen debut in the closing moments of the episode. This is definitely exciting. Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, opens a lot of new doors for this season, and the series overall.

I can only assume we’ll see Barry travel to Earth-2 at some point, presumably by way of the cosmic treadmill. We have very little to go on at this point, obviously. But as a sucker for alternate Earth storylines, I’m very anxious to see what they do with Jay Garrick, and whatever Earth-2 characters pop up.

Image 1 from ign.com. Image 2 from forbes.com. Image 3 from comicbookresources.com.

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Roman Reigns/Bray Wyatt, Stephanie’s Balls, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Sadly, this week’s Raw wasn’t much of an improvement from what we’ve been seeing lately. Indeed, the autumn slump is here in full force. But before we get into Raw, let’s talk a little TNA. Thankfully, the news is good.

Matt Hardy, TNA Bound For Glory 2015Matt Hardy wins TNA World Championship at Bound For Glory 2015. Sadly, TNA has been a punchline as of late. But a lot of the stuff I’ve been hearing about Bound For Glory is positive. Congratulations are indeed in order for Matt Hardy. People can debate about how much the TNA World Heavyweight Title means in 2015, but obviously it was a great moment for him. It’s big win, whether you’re a TNA fan or not.

Ethan Carter III also deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s done in TNA. Despite the grim circumstances TNA faces with it’s impending cancellation, the real-life Mike Hutter has been tremendous as their lead heel. He took the potential WWE ultimately squandered, and got over in another promotion. You’ve got to respect that.

Now let’s just hope TNA is still around for a Bound For Glory 2016.

Roman Reigns, Raw, September 5, 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Randy Orton def. The Wyatt Family. Reigns and Bray Wyatt look ahead to Hell in a Cell. I can honestly say I’ve grown bored with six-man tags on Raw. For the second week in a row we saw not one, but two six-person tags on this show. One with the guys, and one with the girls. They all feel tired and repetitive now, regardless of who’s in there. If they really want to change up TV, how about a “no six-man tags” rule for the next month or so?

As for Reigns and Wyatt’s upcoming Hell in a Cell Match, I can only say: Right place, right time, wrong main event. No matter how hard these guys work to get fans ready for their match, and it is a big match, they’re going to be eclipsed by Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. It’s unavoidable. I don’t fault WWE for trying to sell more network subscriptions with that match. But this was a great opportunity for WWE to show fans that Reigns and Wyatt are two big and compelling parts of their future. Having them main event Hell in a Cell, much like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose did last year, would be a great spotlight for them. Especially Bray Wyatt, as this would be his first pay per view main event.

All isn’t lost, however. Wyatt and Reigns can still make a statement by out-performing Brock and ‘Taker. Still, the match has been watered down. That’s a damn shame.

Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, September 5, 2015Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman open the show with a message for The Undertaker. “You are not Dead Man enough to get revenge on Brock Lesnar.” Yet another great Paul Heyman line.

Another great line? When Heyman referenced Lesnar’s upcoming appearance on Steve Austin’s podcast. Why he couldn’t have done that for this Undertaker match during the build up to the Madison Square Garden special, I have no idea. It only makes all the sense in the world…

The Big Show played his role just fine, as he took yet another F5. After being built up as an unstoppable giant for a few weeks, I can only assume he’ll go right back to jobbing on free TV now.

Big E. answers John Cena’s open challenge in the main event. While The New Day have come off like babyfaces lately, robbing us of a John Cena/ Dolph Ziggler main event was indeed a heel move. Still, it was nice to see Big E. get such a prominent spotlight, as The New Day are once again featured in the main event of Raw.

John Cena, Big E., Raw, September 5, 2015There’s been talk lately of John Cena taking time off in the near future. I can only assume this means he’ll be dropping the US Title. But to who? Common sense points to somebody like Cesaro. But the way the “Swiss Superman” has been booked lately, it looks like Heath Slater has a better chance.

Stephanie McMahon featured in segments with Seth Rollins, Kane, and The New Day. One of my favorite wrestling podcasters, Jason Solomon, tweeted something during Raw that caught my eye: “Stephanie has bigger balls than everyone on the roster.” The sad thing is, he’s right.

Look at how Stephanie talks to both the babyfaces and the heels on Raw. She condescends to all of them, and plays the “I’ll fire you” card constantly. Remember a few months ago when they had her berate John Cena in the middle of the ring, and then simply leave? If it happened every once in awhile, that’d be one thing. But this consistently happens with wrestlers across the board. What purpose does it serve the story when the boss is angry with everybody? I don’t get it.

Sheamus, Neville, Raw, September 5, 2015Sheamus def. Neville in less than a minute after a distraction from Wade Barrett. Ouch. That was pretty hard to watch. You’re telling me they couldn’t have chopped a minute or two off of yet another Rollins/Kane dialogue segment to let these guys wrestle? Adding to the confusion, they seemed to be trying to soften the blow before and after the match. They had Sheamus talk about how everybody loves Neville, and then Michael Cole seemed to throw Neville a bone when he said the match as “all Neville” until Barrett interfered. But the match lasted 30 seconds! Dramatic as it may sound, Neville hit a career low tonight.

Natalya def Paige via submission. The crowd was pretty dead for this match. I imagine part of that is because they’re not sure how to react to Paige. Still, they had a decent outing. I was definitely surprised to see Natalya get the win. She has always had a lot of star potential, and has been able to capitalize on some of it through Total Divas. But she belongs in the ring. I’d love for this to be the start of something bigger for her, but I don’t have my hopes up. One side note: Cinch up on that Sharpshooter, Nattie.

Image 1 from allwrestlingnews.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A Grayson #12 Review – A Hero’s Homecoming

Grayson #12 (2015)TITLE: Grayson #12
AUTHORS: Tim Seeley, Tom King
PENCILLER: Mikel Janin
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 23, 2015

***Unfamiliar with Grayson? Check out our review of the very first issue!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Full disclosure: I’ve been absent for the past few issues of Grayson. That’s not to say the series has necessarily taken a downturn. But lately, the arrival of certain other books (Secret Wars, We Are Robin, Black Canary), pushed it down the priority list.

This issue, however, merited a look. After deceiving the world into thinking Dick Grayson/Nightwing died during the events of Forever Evil, Dick returns to Gotham City to come clean to his surrogate family. This includes the amnesiac Bruce Wayne, who as Batman, was the one who sent Dick to infiltrate Spyral in the first place. And speaking of Spyral, they’re not going to let Agent 37 leave without a fight.

Grayson #12, Mikel Janin, Bruce WayneSeeley, King, and Janin use a unique device in this issue. Each time Dick reunites with someone, we get a splash page with a black background and various pieces of actual dialogue from the 75-year history of Batman’s world. Naturally, they correspond with Dick’s relation to that character. This not only gives the reader a very real sense of what the dynamic was between Dick and the character in question, but it’s a fitting substitute for the repeated and redundant “You’re alive!” moments we might have seen under a different creative team. It’s also extremely cool that actual dialogue is used. These quotes can actually be traced back to specific issues. You certainly can’t say effort wasn’t made in terms of research.

The device works best with Bruce, who due to events in Batman, has no memories of his time in the costume. The original Dynamic Duo look like a distant memory here, which is fairly sad. But the Grayson team makes good use of its time in the Snyder/Capullo sandbox, particularly when Dick has to protect his former partner, using the very skills Bruce taught him years ago!

The reunion between Dick and Damian is the only one that bucks the “You’re alive!” moment pattern. Apparently, Dick had no idea Damian had been resurrected. From an in-story perspective, that’s really weird. Dick knew Bruce was trying to bring Damian back. He even made a brief appearance in the Robin Rises story. How could he not have known? Is Dick feigning surprise for some reason?

Birds of Prey #8, 1999, Greg Land, Nightwing, OracleWith the splash page/quotes device, this issue harkens back to the pre-New 52 continuity in a way that still maintains a certain fluidity. But surprisingly, Seeley and King harken back to something very specific in the reunion between Dick and Barbara: The trapeze scene from 1999’s Birds of Prey #8. Written by the great Chuck Dixon and drawn by Greg Land, the issue saw Dick take Barbara on a date of sorts to Haly’s Circus. In an empty tent, Dick and the partially paralyzed Barbara go swinging on a trapeze, in a sequence that culminates with a kiss. To my knowledge, this is the first time this event has been mentioned in the New 52 continuity, and it’s really cool to see them show this moment such reverence.

On the flip side of the memories coin, this issue has plenty of flashback images featuring “Red Nightwing,” a.k.a. Nightwing in the red and black suit. If we’re using quotes and plot points from the pre-New 52 continuity, can we at least acknowledge that Nightwing wore a black and blue suit at one point? Yes, I understand it’s probably an editorial mandate. But still, you’re killin’ me…

The conclusion to this issue does the Dick Grayson character a lot of justice. While Bruce Wayne is a natural loner, Dick is a people person, and is more than comfortable as part of a team. In Grayson #12 we see that is a strength, not a weakness. Not only did Seeley and King nail the character, they showed us that with Bruce on the sidelines, Dick Grayson may in fact be the glue that holds the Bat-Family together.

Image 1 from craveonline.com. Image 2 from comicbookresources.com.

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Big Show, Kane, Complicated Monsters, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not much to write home about on this show. As it turns out, WWE may be falling into their autumn slump after all. Though it won’t be for lack of trying. We’re getting two Brock Lesnar matches in the next few weeks, appearances by plenty of WWE icons, and the return of John Cena’s US Open Challenge. But the way they’re building to some of their big matches is confusing and frustrating.

In fact, let’s dive right into that…

The Big Show, Mark Henry, Raw, September 28, 2015Ponderings From WWE Raw:

The Big Show def. Mark Henry, will face Brock Lesnar Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Show has been booked like a monster lately to make us believe he’s got a chance of beating Brock Lesnar. But considering how Show is booked on a regular basis, it’s too little too late. It wasn’t long ago that he got pinned by Ryback on free TV. Now we’re supposed to believe he can beat Lesnar? Hell, Cesaro was able to suplex him over the ropes last week. Why exactly are we supposed to believe he’s not going to “Suplex City” at the Garden?

The decision to put Brock with Show is a weird one anyway. The Beast in the East special had decent viewership, and Brock’s opponent on that show was Kofi Kingston. The idea behind these Network specials with Lesnar, or so I thought, was to play him up as a special attraction. You watch this special, you get a rare opportunity to see the “Beast Incarnate” in action. So does it really matter who he wrestles?

The Big Show, Raw, September 28, 2015 With that in mind, there are a bunch of other guys you could have put him against, and avoided having to go back to Big Show. Two off the top of my head: The Miz and Stardust. You’re not going to go to pay per view with any of those matches, so you’re not missing out on anything. Plus, the fans get the thrill of seeing Brock tear some poor guy to shreds. It’s a win-win. And I guarantee you, it’d be more fun to see Brock in the ring with any of those three guys than The Big Show.

On the subject of Mark Henry, here’s been some talk lately about “The World’s Strongest Man” hanging up his boots. The man himself has publicly stated that retirement is imminent, and that he’d like to have a retirement match. But considering the hideous losing streak he’s been on lately against the likes of Rusev and Sheamus, the value of a Mark Henry retirement match plummets with each passing week. This squash match with The Big Show certainly didn’t help things.

Paul Heyman, WWE Raw, September 28, 2015Paul Heyman talks MSG match, does not mention The Undertaker. Sorry Paul. Even you couldn’t sell me on this one. All that talk about The Big Show being complacent and unmotivated would be fine…if he hadn’t been losing to Ryback, John Cena, and half the other guys he’s been in the ring with lately.

Still, Heyman put Show over strong, and that doesn’t surprise me. In all the years Show has been with WWE, he was at his best when he was being booked by Paul Heyman on WWE’s version of ECW. There aren’t many good things to remember about ECW on Syfy, but that was one of them.

And yet again, we got no hype for Brock/Undertaker at Hell in a Cell. That’s so damn weird. Since when can we only promote one show at a time? This is THE UNDERTAKER we’re talking about! You know, that guy that usually wrestles once a year? That guy you relied on to sell Summerslam, and are now going to again for Hell in a Cell? And yet, they’re not even casually mentioning him. If I’m Big Show, my key talking point is that Brock Lesnar won’t make it to Hell in a Cell to face The Undertaker. This Madison Square Garden show is worth a fraction of what Hell in a Cell is, based on that one match alone. So for God’s sake, talk about it! Sell me on it!

Kane, Raw, September 28, 2015Kane gets a “Performance Evaluation.” This segment started at the 1 hour and 51 minute mark, and ended at the 2 hour and 8 minute mark. Yet another segment in which Seth Rollins is sent out there to kill time with a drawn out speech. What’s more, the pay off for the whole thing was hokey. “Corporate Kane” gets hauled off in an ambulance, and then magically transforms into “Demon Kane.” And when the change happened, the crowd hardly reacted. They seemed as tired of the whole thing as we were.

Why are we overcomplicating this with the whole multiple personality angle? What’s wrong with Kane being a sadistic monster that’s out to get Rollins every week? It would paint Rollins as a coward, and position Kane as the demonic presence they need him to be. If this three-hour Raw era has taught us anything, it’s that longer and more complex doesn’t always equal superior.

John Cena’s US Open Challenge returns, results in a six-man tag featuring The New Day and The Dudley Boyz. Happy to see Xavier Woods, who’s mostly cast as a manager these days, get a chance to actually wrestle. I don’t think anybody actually believed he would win, but it was a nice little exhibition for him. And that’s really what these open challenges are supposed to be about, until somebody actually upsets Cena and wins the belt. Can’t say I was a fan of the finish, though. Nothing against the Dudleys, but I can’t say I ever had dreams of seeing them aligned with Cena.

John Cena, Xavier Woods, Raw, September 28, 2015Interestingly, Heath Slater was campaigning on Twitter to be the guy facing Cena, calling this “Heath Slater Appreciation Night.” He might have been a little over the top with all that. But if Zack Ryder can get a match with Cena, why not Slater?

Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt brawl in the main event. This was by no means a bad choice for a main event. But damn, the crowd was sitting on their hands. They had a strong finish, too. Reigns even got a couple of good lines off on the mic. I’m telling you, if they just let this guy be himself…

The Bella Twins & Alicia Fox def. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, & Natalya. Before this match, we had another Miz TV segment with the girls. Paige ran her mouth again, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. She’s obviously trying to be a heel, and she’s good at the whole brat persona. But anyone who calls out the Bellas for sleeping their way to the top is going to get cheers. So if they want to keep going the villainess route, her promos need to be more focused on her rivals: Charlotte, Becky, and Natalya.

Wade Barrett, Raw, September 28, 2015Wade Barrett returns to attack Stardust and Neville. Why should I care? There, I said it. When we last saw Barrett, he was essentially in the position Mark Henry is in now. He was the resident jobber. On top of that, he was walking around wearing a silly looking crown and robe. And now he’s back. So what? And where do we go from here? A triple threat match maybe?

Hornswoggle suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. I can only assume this was for marijuana or something. Tough break. Or maybe not, considering WWE hasn’t done anything with him in quite some time. Unless you count that Swerved show on the Network.

Images courtsey of WWE.com.

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A Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1 Review – The Burden of Expectations

Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1TITLE: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
PENCILLER: Marco Checchetto. Cover by Phil Noto.
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 9, 2015

***WARNING: Spoilers head for Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor Fanboy Wonder

If any single issue ever suffered from “the burden of expectations,” it’s this one. Shattered Empire #1 is Marvel’s first foray into the post-Return of the Jedi era. What’s more, the cover literally depicts the final shot in Jedi. Whether this was the intention or not, that cover says to us: “Those questions you’ve all had about what happened after Return of the Jedi? The answers start here.”

Talk about expectations…

Shattered Empire #1 is a satisfying read if you keep those expectations in check. The idea behind this issue, and everything under the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens banner, is to wet our appetite and give us clues. They were never going to give us any big answers here. Han and Chewbacca, however, get a decent amount of page time. We also get a little bit of Lando, and a glance or two at C-3PO and R2-D2.

Sergeant DameronBut the real stars of the book are Shara Bey and Kes Dameron. If you’ve been following the hype for The Force Awakens the name “Dameron” should sound familiar. I’m sad to say I didn’t pick it up until my second read-through: Poe Dameron is the name of Oscar Issac’s character in the movie. Fittingly, he’s a pilot for The Resistance, much like his parents are pilots for the Rebel Alliance. And apparently, he’s conceived in the pages of this issue. That’s right, folks. Poe Dameron was conceived mere hours after the Battle of Endor.

While we don’t know much about Shara and Pes (Is that pronounced like Pez?) personally, we do become invested in their relationship. This is partially because Shara is put over well, as we see her flying her A-Wing in the Battle of Endor. She even helps Luke Skywalker on his flight back to the Endor moon from the Death Star. But for my money, there’s also a certain foreboding sense about this romance. One can only tempt fate so many times, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if as early as issue #2, one of our romantic rebels dies.

Star Wars: Scattered Empire #1, LandoIn terms of the rebels we already know from the original trilogy, we spend the most amount of time with Han Solo. But we see him through Shara’s eyes, so he’s much more a general than the daring rogue of old. What’s disappointing about this is we don’t even get a hint about where Leia is, what she’s doing, or where she and Han stand at this point. One would assume they’d both be all business regardless, and not designing wedding invitations or anything. But I was hoping for just a hint. Again, expectations must be managed for this issue.

On the plus side, we do get a really cool moment between Han, Chewie, and Lando (shown left). The ol’ smoothie never changes. Marco Checchetto and colorist Andres Mossa are at their strongest when they’re putting the Wars in Star Wars. When they’re depicting the Endor battle, as well as the subsequent battle, there’s a sense of real energy and danger on the page. Whether it’s those all-too-familiar blaster bolts whizzing past, the placement of ships on the page, or the abundance of explosions, it truly feels like the characters are in real jeopardy.

In terms of books leading up to The Force Awakens, Shattered Empire should likely be a high priority among Star Wars fans. More than anything, it’s looking like this will be more about Poe Dameron’s heritage, and some of the broad strokes of how the Empire fell and the New Republic rose. But with the movie looming closer, who knows what hints they might drop? That, and a look into the post-Return of the Jedi era should be more than enough to keep fans flipping pages.

Images from author’s collection.

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The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown, and Charles Schulz

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s a little surreal to see all the Peanuts publicity over the last several months. I was never much of a fan when I was a kid. But after seeing the Peanuts exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a few years ago, I became really interested in the life of Charles Schulz. Books like Schulz and Peanuts and My Life with Charlie Brown are on my shelf, and I’ve started looking at the strip with an adult’s eyes. You start looking at it completely differently when you realize it was written by a man who, to an extent, was extremely insecure about his place in the world. That’s so odd, considering he’s one of the medium’s all-time greats. But then you look at the strips, and you see Charlie Brown say things like…

  • “I want to be a special person…I want to be needed.”
  • “They say opposites attract…She’s really something and I’m really nothing…How opposite can you get?”
  • “I’m lonely. I feel that no one really cares about me. How can I cure this loneliness?

Peanuts, depressionYou look at this kind of stuff, and you realize that Schulz was not only providing us with his own special view of the world, but he was plunging into the murky depths of his own psyche and putting his findings on the page. It sounds pretty heavy when you put it like that, but it’s true.

When you look at the strip from this perspective, it’s so weird to see Peanuts looked at like a kids franchise, even though it’s been that way for so many years. The movie seems to be at least partially capturing the essence of the Charlie Brown character, though.

Incidentally, there’s a viral marketing campaign out right now that lets people “Peanutize” themselves, i.e. create a Peanuts character that looks like them. But if you’re like me, and you look almost exactly like Charlie Brown anyway, there’s not much of a point. As the Peanuts characters are kids, there’s no way to differentiate between my character and Charlie Brown…

PeanutsCuriously, while they won’t let you give a child character facial hair, they apparently will let you give them a wedding ring. Yes, I know it’s the wrong hand. But why else would they put it in there? Maybe it’s a purity ring…

Image 1 from cowart.info.

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