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CHIKARA vs. The Flood: Wrestling with a Kill Count

July 27th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Last weekend, I took a trip to New York City to watch a CHIKARA show. Between that and the Boston show that followed, CHIKARA has done six shows since their return announcement at February’s National Pro Wrestling Day. CHIKARA likes to focus on overarching storylines every season and in this one, it’s about CHIKARA vs. a massive villain group called the Flood. Wrestling has had many, many good stable vs. evil stable storylines – CHIKARA specially – but there are two things that make this specific one unique.

First, the Flood isn’t just a stable. It’s a super stable made up of other stables like Devastator from Transformers. Or, to keep the nerd references going, it’s like the Secret Society of Supervillains from DC Comics circa Infinite Crisis. It’s several dozen bad guys from CHIKARA’s past banded together under one banner. I don’t even know if there were this many members of the nWo at any single point.

Second, this war actually has a body count. Going with the comic book nature of CHIKARA’s storytelling, they’re actually killing off wrestlers like it was an event comic. Kind of. For the most part, they aren’t outright saying “dead,” but they are heavily insinuating it.

That’s pretty cool to me because as much as I love a cool stable angle, once it starts going it can be really hard to figure out a satisfying ending. It usually just peters out, the heel team turns against each other, or they do some kind of, “If they lose, they have to break up forever,” stipulation. Even the popular BDK storyline only came to an end because two members burned their bridges with the company, one member got signed by WWE, one left wrestling in general, one turned face, one was written off for health reasons and one wasn’t local enough for the full-time schedule.

The big story from mid-2013 to mid-2014 was that CHIKARA was simply kaput. The corrupt owners Titor Conglomerate ended the company and the workers headed off into a handful of far-less-popular offshoots. CHIKARA guy Icarus started a grassroots campaign to get Titor to sell the rights off while the offshoot promotions were systematically crushed by old heel factions out to destroy what was left of the company until Icarus united the CHIKARA faithful against the Flood at National Pro Wrestling Day and announced the return of CHIKARA.

During that time off, the promotion Wrestling is Fun had a ten-man tag match featuring future Flood members Oleg the Usurper, Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch and Jaka. Their opponents were no match for them, but what nobody saw coming was what Oleg did to fan-favorite Dragon Dragon.

My God! That’s barbaric!

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The 10 Most Awesomely Terrible Art Moments from WWE Superstars #6

July 21st, 2014 Posted by Gavok

The nice thing about being a blogger is that it’s like a tax write-off on buying terrible shit. It’s great when you read a great comic, see an awesome movie, or something like that, but if you pay for something lame, you can always twist it into an article. It’s really one of the best perks.

I can’t not read WWE comics and I’ve filled up big chunks of this site proving that. The latest attempt at a WWE series is WWE Superstars by Papercutz. It’s been written by wrestling legend Mick Foley and Shane Riches. I imagine Shane Riches wrote most of it. Anyway, the first four issues were just released in a trade under the name Money in the Bank. I reviewed it here. The arc was about reimagining WWE wrestlers as characters in an overly-casted crime noir story. A cool idea that wore out its welcome.

The art was mostly done by Alitha Martinez, who did an all right job. Most of the time, wrestlers looked like who they were supposed to and some pieces looked really nice. Other times, the pencils were rushed, as was the need to get through the story, meaning fight scenes all had an unnatural flow to them. Then in the fourth issue, Martinez was replaced for four pages by an artist named Puste and oh boy was it noticeable. Lifeless, awkward, incoherent and ripe with inconsistency, it was a complete trip.

For some reason, Papercutz decided to have Puste be the main artist on the current arc, which has the wrestlers actually being wrestlers. It’s a weird storyline called Haze of Glory that features Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio and Hornswoggle with a wicked hangover due to some spiked punch. The backstage area is in ruins, everyone blames them and they don’t know what in the hell happened. All they know is that they’ve been set up.

And yes, CM Punk is still a main character despite having been gone from the company since January.

I really can’t judge the wacky story on its own merits because the art is so distracting. Issue #6 alone has so many moments that make me shake my head that I’m able to make an actual top ten list out of it.

Let’s get started!

10) THE ATTEMPTED F5

Well. Lot of stuff going on here. Brock Lesnar is trying to F5 CM Punk and Goldust saves Punk with a kick to the nuts. Looks awkward, but okay.

Hornswoggle is bald here and that might make sense at first glance. After all, he recently lost a mask vs. hair match and for the past couple months he’s been bald in real life. Except in every single other panel he shows up in, he’s got a full head of hair. Remember, this comic is out of date enough that Jack Swagger calls Cesaro “Antonio” and CM Punk is there.

Puste seems to have a thing against drawing backgrounds most of the time, so for some reason the 4th of July is going off behind them. I don’t know.

9) CM PUNK CHOKES OUT MARK HENRY

A zombie CM Punk goes for Mark Henry’s brains and Henry seems almost happy about it.

He took out Cena too! You’ll… You’ll just have to take his word for it, okay? Punk certainly applies the sleeper an awful lot like the Anaconda Vise. Hm.

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This Week in Panels: Week 250

July 6th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

It’s time for This Week in Panels! The weekly segment where my wonderful contributors and I all take the comics we’ve read over the course of this week and cut them down into one panel. One representative panel that tries to explain the issue. We’ve only been doing this for… oh shit, 250?! Christ.

Yes, it’s Week 250. For nearly five years I’ve been doing this series. I started this back when Old Man Logan and Blackest Night were still going on. I originally got the idea during the short time I was writing at Pop Culture Shock. I did a bunch of one-paragraph comic reviews every week and I hated it. How many times can you write the same review of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America?

A few years before that, one comic site I can’t remember (probably Newsarama) had a preview of an upcoming issue of Civil War. Rather than show several pages, it just showed a handful of panels without context. I found the whole thing more intriguing than if we got the regular style of preview and I guess that just stayed with me. Another thing that stuck with me was when people would talk about the first Agents of Atlas series. One thing I’ve read once or twice was that it didn’t matter what you had to say about the comic in terms of opinion. Just show the panel of a 1950′s robot running down a hallway carrying a talking gorilla while said gorilla shoots four guns via both hand and both feet. That says everything.

I figured that I read a bunch of comics on a weekly basis, but nobody really had any interest in my opinions. Why would they? I’m just some guy on the internet. Worse than that, I’m a guy whose favorite character is an alien-wearing journalist-turned-hobo with delusions of grandeur recognized for being one of the poster boys of everything wrong with the 90′s. My opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Why talk about what I read when I could just show you in its purest form and let you decide for yourself? I suggested the This Week in Panels idea to David and he put a cigar out on my face. I took that to mean, “Yes, go ahead.”

ThWiP has been very good to me and I was happy to see that it got enough regular readers and regular contributors. Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa especially, who never missed a beat when it came to sending me their stuff. I’m glad to see my idea was vindicated and it kept enough people interested.

With a heavy heart, I’m announcing that after 250 wonderful weeks, I’m stepping down from This Week in Panels. It sucks, but I need to move on. One of the things about starting ThWiP was that I wanted to do a weekly series for the sake of proving to myself that I could hit a regular deadline. And I did. Unless there was a hurricane or some kind of power-destroying storm, I hit the update every Sunday. Then I got my position at Den of Geek US, which has responsibilities beyond just writing articles. Plus my main job has been keeping me busier and busier. ThWiP updates went from regularly happening over the course of Sunday night to late Monday night or even early Tuesday morning. Simply put, I actually have real deal deadlines to deal with now.

Hell, I haven’t written a non-ThWiP update for 4thletter! since WrestleMania happened. I kind of need to rectify that and I have only so many hours in the day.

ThWiP isn’t done-done, at least. Space Jawa, otherwise known as Michael Stangeland (or as I keep accidentally typing, “Strangeland”) will be taking up the mantle. Personally, I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of.

Anyway, I still have this 250th update to do. We got me, Gaijin Dan, Matlock, Space Jawa, Was Taters, AnarChris and Dickeye. Let’s go down the road one more time.

Action Comics #33
Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift, Pt 2
Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #4
Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman and Ty Templeton

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This Week in Panels: Week 249

June 30th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Once again we find ourselves looking at the stuff we’ve read over the past week, reduced to one representative image. It’s This Week in Panels. “We” includes myself, Matlock, Space Jawa, Gaijin Dan and AnarChris. We’re like the Planeteers, only we’re all heart.

Elsewhere, I wrote this big piece on the history of Mortal Kombat comics. Years ago, I went over the Malibu series in detail here, but in this article, I go more in-depth on the many comics that acted as official preludes to the games. I was also asked by my editor to write a quick thing about John Cena being on the cover of WWE 2K15, and so I did.

Now, then. It’s paneling time! Seriously, it’s a big one this week.

All-New Ghost Rider #4 (Gavin’s pick)
Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore

All-New Ghost Rider #4 (Matlock’s pick)
Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore

All-New Ultimates #4
Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

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This Week in Panels: Week 248

June 24th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Hey, ThWiPsters. We’re getting closer and closer to the big 250th week landmark with panels from myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and AnarChris. Original Sin continues to be Marvel’s more entertaining and less rapey version of Identity Crisis and I’ve been very happy with that. The two TMNT comics were also fantastic this week.

Helluva lot of Frank Castle stuff this week.

Elsewhere, I’ve written a review of the first arc of the WWE Superstars comic, as well as a look at various storyline aspects I expect to see in the next Mortal Kombat game.

Avengers #31 (Matlock’s pick)
Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu

Avengers #31 (Gavin’s pick)
Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu

Avengers World #8 (Gavin’s pick)
Nick Spencer and Marco Checchetto

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This Week in Panels: Week 247

June 16th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Hello, party people. It’s time for ThWiP starring myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and AnarChris. Yes, a new person for once. Crazy.

The true highlight of this week is New Avengers, which is awesome mostly because of Namor. The dude absolutely owns every single panel he’s in, so it makes sense that he gets the spotlight in both choices this week.

She-Hulk and WWE Superstars both nosedive when it comes to the art this week. The stuff in She-Hulk is especially disappointing and the panel I chose is one of the better looking moments. Seriously, there’s a part where Tigra is talking about how sexy she looks while actually appearing as Lion-O in drag after a bender. It’s just not my bag.

All-New Invaders #6 (Matlock’s pick)
James Robinson and Mark Laming

All-New Invaders #6 (Gavin’s pick)
James Robinson and Mark Laming

All-New Ultimates #3
Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

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This Week in Panels: Week 246

June 9th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

And here we are again. It’s This Week in Panels, where I am M. Bison, Matlock is Sagat, Gaijin Dan is Vega and Space Jawa is Balrog. We’ve got a shitload of panels this week, mostly with me and Matlock double-dipping. Sadly, I’m the only one reading New Warriors, which is adorable as hell. Especially this issue where Hummingbird starts falling for Speedball. Speedball, who looks like a normal, well-adjusted human being compared to her.

On the other hand, Moon Knight. Oh my God, Moon Knight. I mean, if you haven’t started reading it yet, you might as well just wait for the trade since the current creative team is only lasting a whopping six issues before splitting up. So far the series has been completely kickass and I can’t recommend it enough.

Now let’s get the show on the road.

Action Comics #32
Greg Pak and Scott Kolins

All You Need Is Kill #17
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Aquaman and the Others #3
Dan Jurgens and Lan Medina

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This Week in Panels: Week 245

June 2nd, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Hey, now! Getting closer and closer to hitting 250. This week I did a review of Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist and… nothing. Because I’m locked in a world of getting endless overtime at work. Great for the wallet, but damn if I have zero energy to write or do my DDP Yoga.

My boys Gaijin Dan, Matlock and Space Jawa are back with me this week. Lots of Charles Soule with a couple Parker and Robinson books mixed in there. Just how I like it. I’ve mentioned before that Red Lanterns is pretty much the best book DC has right now, right? Because it totally fucking is.

All-New Invaders #5 (Gavin’s pick)
James Robinson and Steve Pugh

All-New Invaders #5 (Matlock’s pick)
James Robinson and Steve Pugh

All-Star Western #31
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Staz Johnson and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

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This Week in Panels: Week 244

May 26th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Hey, look at that! A new header image. Thank YOU, Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover one-shot!

Like always, it’s me on lead vocals with Matlock on drums, Gaijin Dan on guitar and Space Jawa on triangle. Saga is back, which is fantastic. Plus Frankenstein’s showing up in more DC comics, which I guess is a good thing. Even if I haven’t heard much promise from Futures End. Matlock’s the one reading it, not me.

Speaking of stuff I haven’t read, Space Jawa brings in a lot of stuff from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary comic. In that Archie TMNT panel, Leonardo’s kind of a hypocrite.

It was a busy week for me otherwise. Over at Den of Geek US, I’ve written an article about how Charles Soule is the “great fixer” of Marvel and DC, I celebrated the return of CHIKARA Pro Wrestling with a look at the ten best CHIKARA storylines and I got to do my first ever phone interview with Joey Ansah, the guy behind Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.

On Sunday I took a trip to see the CHIKARA return show You Only Live Twice. One of the highlights included seeing the debut of “Smooth Sailing” Ashley Remington, who upon winning his match, handed his opponent a fruit basket. His opponent’s reaction went from angry to confused to, “Hey, all right!”

Now for the panel stuff.

All You Need Is Kill #15
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Amazing Spider-Man #2
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

Avengers World #6 (Gavin’s pick)
Nick Spencer and Marco Checcheto

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This Week in Panels: Week 243

May 20th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Heyo! Nice cornucopia of stuff this week, brought to you by myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Deadpool may be my comic of the week, although Afterlife with Archie is still — no pun intended — killing it. If anything, that comic has the best incentive to read it. Sure, we’re reading about the hopeful survival of our main cast, but we’re also waiting for the other shoe to drop on Reggie getting torn apart by the undead. Finally, giving the readers what they want!

The main Avengers book was pretty rad too. Instead of responding to mindwiping with paranoia and passive-aggressiveness, Captain America simply cuts to the chase and punches Tony Stark in his stupid fucking face. Batman, you can learn a thing or two from that man.

Action Comics #31
Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, Rafa Sandoval and Cameron Stewart

Afterlife with Archie #5
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

All-New Ghost Rider #3 (Gavin’s pick)
Filipe Smith and Tradd Moore

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