Variant Edition | Devin R. Bruce
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Author:Devin R. Bruce

Some weeks I have the urge to get extra-artsy about things. To focus on the craft of the culture I'm consuming, to really deconstruct the subjects, to uncover the deeper meaning of everything. This week is different. It's about the excitement and the power of the art. How it can excite as well as enlighten. Here are three quick little gut punches that got my blood boiling. * * * * * [caption id="attachment_348984" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Cover to Gon, Volume 2.[/caption] This week I finished up the last three volumes of Masashi Tanaka's Gon and by the time I'd finished the last book my cheeks were sore from smiling...

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[caption id="attachment_348950" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Cover to Batgirl #14 by Stanley Lau.[/caption] This week I finally read all 25 issues (24 regular issues plus one Bruce Wayne: The Road Home tie-in special) of Batgirl, Volume 3.  It ran from 2009 to 2011, when it was cancelled along with the rest of the DC Universe thanks to the Flashpoint-New 52 reboot. Which is a damned shame because this title was a load of fun. Batgirl, Volume 3 stars Stephanie Brown, former Spoiler, former Robin, and formerly-dead daughter of C-list Batman villain The Cluemaster, as she tries to prove herself in a Gotham City where Bruce Wayne is presumed...

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  [caption id="attachment_348932" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Cover to All-New Doop #5 by Mike and Laura Allred.[/caption] Full disclosure: All-New Doop is a strange, strange book. And I really like strange. I sometimes like things just because they are strange and for no other reason. Even for me: this is a strange book. For those who might not be aware, Doop is a character introduced in Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's critically acclaimed X-Force run from Marvel in 2001. Doop was a mystery for most of the series, a floating green blob with two arms who followed the team of feuding mutants around filming their escapades for their reality television...

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This week’s pop culture column is going to be short but sweet, folks: the real world is on my tail and gaining fast. So let’s get to it; there’s no time to waste!

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After raving to Brandon and Danica in person about how good Midnighter is, they referred me to a book by the same writer, Steve Orlando: Virgil. It is right up my alley, a book that the Orlando call a “queersploitation” thriller. Virgil is a comic that revels in all the familiar trappings of the great exploitation revenge films of the 1970s while updating the social issues that drive the plot. The title character is a police in Kingston, Jamaica, who’s living a double life. As a (dubiously) respectable cop he has an image to maintain, as Jamaican culture is notoriously homophobic and Jamaican police culture even more so. But away from the “real world” he has a passionate and loving relationship with his boyfriend Ervan. In their stolen moments alone the two of them fantasize about escaping to Toronto where they can live their lives openly. That is until a police raid breaks up small dinner party that the two are having with other queer friends, leaving four people dead, Virgil beaten within an inch of his life, and Ervan missing. With his private life front page news and no-one to trust, Virgil has to fight his way through the ranks of the police department to get back the man he loves. As Virgil is an exploitation story, Orlando and artist J.D. Fath don’t shy away from scenes of sex and violence, which heighten the tensions involved in Virgil’s one man war on the establishment. Fath’s art is full of power and tension, the faces of the characters heightened without being exaggerated, and unmistakable body language driving the story more than the narration. I also love the use of inks to cast deep shadow, giving the same effect that shadows and light did in old films noir. A quick read but not lightweight by any means, Virgil‘s setting and subject matter revitalize the familiar revenge thriller tropes and make for a must-read book.

Greetings adventurekateers! Thanks for joining me again on this crazy ride. When I asked myself “Wait, what did I actually read/watch/listen to this week?” I didn’t realize that the very best things were the ones that made me laugh. I know I like to delve into the dark and cynical on a pretty regular basis, but this week I just needed to laugh, I suppose. If you need a laugh too, I have a few suggestions. I mean, if you’re interested.

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I am so, so happy I got to see The Nice Guys in the movie theater. I am a big proponent in watching movies on the big screen with other people; it’s a kind of communion that really speaks to me, sharing an experience with strangers, in a way that makes you all part of a community even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Ahem. Forgive me, I have very strong opinions on this topic. But let’s get back to The Nice Guys, which is an extraordinary movie and one that I have been looking forward to for months.

Hey everyone, this week at work has been a KILLER for your old pal Devin so this column’s going to be a short one. The good news is that because there will only be a few sentences per item. the concentration of enthusiasm will be explosive BECAUSE I WILL WRITE IN ALL CAPS AND USE MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

Okay, I won’t torture any of us with that nonsense. But still: short and to the point! Explosively exciting! Packed with Vitamin D! Let’s go!

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Cover to Killraven #2 by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer. Buckle them swashes, Killraven!

Cover to Killraven #2 by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer. Buckle them swashes, Killraven!

The 1970s was a weird time for mainstream comic books, with the two big publishers trying to supplement their traditional superhero offerings with titles inspired by a variety of other genres: kung-fu movies, exploitation, horror, and sci-fi. One of my favourite weird titles from Marvel at that time was Killraven, a sequel to The War Of The Worlds where the Martians had enslaved Earth and entertained themselves by watching human gladiator matches. Killraven was a gladiator-turned-freedom-fighter who, with the help of his fellow escaped gladiators, fought for freedom in this post-apocalyptic world wearing only a navy blue speedo and attached suspenders. It was a great littl series, but a very 1970s concept. That’s why Alan Davis & Mark Farmer’s 2002 Killraven miniseries was such a delight; the script felt like a slightly updated version of the swashbuckling adventures from thirty years earlier, but with Davis & Farmer’s glorious art giving it that much more of a stylistic punch. There were even panels that echoed some of the work that the great P. Craig Russell did on the original series in the 70s, but with the clean and muscular Davis/Farmer touch. The smile on my face grew with each issue I read, and by the end of the series my heart honestly felt a little lighter than when I started. It’s adventure and heroics and swordfighting and also robots and martians and gladiators in very little clothing. What’s not to like?

Hello all! I’m going to get this out of the way right now: I’m not going to talk about any comic books this week. It’s just that kind of week where most of the comics I’ve read have been okay-to-middling, and I’m not going to try and force myself to come up with something positive to say about them. Especially not when there have been so many other awesome things in television, music, and movies this week. Comics will be back next week, I’m sure, but for now: onwards!!

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I’m not quite halfway through Netflix’s Lady Dynamite, but the amount of time I spent scream-laughing at the first five episodes means that I’m pretty confident recommending that people watch it. I mean, I’d recommending it anyway, as I am a big fan of the show’s star Maria Bamford, who stars in the show as “Maria Bamford.” The show is based on her life, going from being a fairly successful standup comic to having a breakdown and spending some time in institutions and now trying to figure out how to live life on her terms. The show is non-linear, metatextual, irreverent, experimental, and hilarious; the first five minutes of the first episode involve Maria talking directly to the camera, which slowly morphs into a commercial parody that starts eating itself, which turns into a daydream that Maria was having while she was forgetting to film her show. The supporting cast is full of solid comedic talent, including Fred Melamel as Maria’s struggling manager Bruce Ben-Bacharach, Mary Kay Place and Ed Begley Jr. as Maria’s parents, and Mo Collins putting in a commited and hilarious performance as Maria’s childhood friend. It’s really Bamford who holds the entire thing together; it’s a showcase for her amazing talent, and she throws herself into every scene, whether it’s the bleaker scenes when she’s in the midst of recovery from bipolar disorder, the full-colour intensity of the first chapter of her success, or her trying to keep things together in the present. Lady Dynamite is a show that is the perfect showcase for her comedy, brilliant and hilarious and smart, and I am going to relish finishing it this weekend.

Well. That was unexpected.


I was absolutely hollowed out by the news of Darwyn Cooke’s death from cancer this past weekend. I know I’ve talked a lot in this column about being shaken by the death of an artist I admire and respect, but Cooke’s death is a real kick in the gut. For someone who was still such a vital and creative force, a vibrant and volatile person with a love for life and art, to leave us at only 53 years old…it’s left me feeling pretty hollow. Cooke was one of my favourite comics creators, of any era; I loved his old-school style, the way he brought real character from a handful of lines, and how his best work felt like it was about to come to life at practically any moment. I honestly can’t think of a comic that he worked on that I didn’t like (though granted, I haven’t read all of them just yet). His love letter to the Silver Age of DC comics, New Frontier, absolutely captivated me when I first read it, a twenty-something man just getting back into comics. Let’s forget about the fact that it’s one of the best Martian Manhunter stories ever written. It’s what most mainstream comics fans think of when they think Cooke; bright primary colours, the pages humming with a zest for action and life, classical art style married with a modern storytelling method.