Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Review of IDW's ROM #1

ROM #1 – “Earthfall Part 1”
IDW Publishing
Cover price $4.99
Written by Christos Gage and Chris Ryall
Art by David Messina with colour assists by Michele Pata

“We’ve been invaded and only a s pace knight can save us! First there was his epic return in this year's FCBD #0, and now the ongoing tale of ROM begins in earnest! Christos Gage, Chris Ryall, and David Messina kick off the wildest new series of the year as Rom's war with the DIRE WRAITHS hits close to home in "Earthfall, part 1!"”

ROM’s long awaited return is finally here. We got a brief glimpse of it in the ROM #0 FCBD edition, there’s nothing like holding a #1 in your hands!

The story opens with a fun homage to ROM’s original crash landing back in 1979. We get a good look at the functionality of ROM’s modern appearance and how his weapons and devices are now an extension of his armour. Just as ROM has received an upgrade, the Dire Wraiths’ get to level up as they’re able to use human lifeforce to shape change into monstrous hawk creatures.

After an initial encounter with the Dire Wraiths, ROM has to figure out how he’s going to approach dealing with their infiltrated brethren. He comes to the rescue of a young woman suffering from post-war PTSD and unaware that the Dire Wraiths have killed her entire family and replaced them. After an impressive battle sequence, ROM tries to settle down the devastated young woman, Darby, who’s in a state of shock.

Hats off to Chris Ryall and IDW Publishing for pursuing this character. Re-imagined for a whole new generation, with minor alterations to his armor and a new supporting cast, ROM is ready to continue his epic battle against the Dire Wraiths who have infiltrated human society. Thankfully, his supporting cast has been modernized as well, with stronger female protagonists that will have more of an active presence.

Messina’s art reminded me a lot of the work of Ian Akin & Brian Garvey from the 1980s. The panel layouts and the smooth flow and transition really brings the action to life.

I really liked the tip of the hat to Bill Mantlo, the Marvel Comics writer who pretty much created the ROM-verse, in naming the park in the story, Mantlo Park.

The only aspect that I wasn’t thrilled about was the upcoming crossover with the other IDW Hasbro properties. While my inner child is blow away at the thought of pitching his GI Joe action figures against ROM, the adult me has become wary of event driven storyline and was hoping for something a bit more focused and streamlined.

However, I’ll be there for the next issue to see where they take ROM, the Wraithslayer next! This first issue was worth the 30 year wait!

Alpha flight #15 X-Men homage by Anthony Castrillo

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My SDCC 2016 Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that it was a week ago today that we flew out to San Diego for SDCC.

An emergency stop at a clinic for pink eye, horrible traffic getting to the airport, and a slow leak in a tire were the only issues plaguing us on our trip to the airport. The flight was on time and really felt cramped for the five hour flight. All our luggage arrived safely and we checked into the Sheraton Marina and head downtown on the free shuttle. That Yellow Line shuttle was amazing, allowing us to travel back and forth from the Convention in about 15 minutes.

Getting our badges was very streamlined and quick. After a quick bite to eat, we got into the Con for Preview Night, but found out that Art Adams’ sketch list was already closed. Met the lovely and talented Marjorie Liu, writer for Image’s Monstress. After a couple of hours exploring with our jaws wide open, we headed back to the hotel and decompressed at Quinn’s, which served a lot great local craft beer.

On Thursday, after a big breakfast at the hotel, we headed down for our first full day. We got into the panel and signing ticket line, but quickly gave up after an hour wait and the line not going anywhere. Snagged a great Shadow sketch from Howard Chaykin. Collected some autographs from Chuck Wendig, Mark Brooks, Len Wein, and William Gibson. Had a nice Italian dinner in the Gaslight district watching the cosplayers. Ended the evening on a rooftop patio with an amazing view of the city and had drinks next to Lucy Lawless and Ted Raimi.

Friday was a rather quiet day as I did a bit of shopping and then made my way over to NerdHQ for the Con Man panel. It was a great, intimate venue and the panel was a lot of fun. Got a few of my Master of Kung Fu issues signed by Paul Gulacy. We had a light dinner and enjoyed a bottle of the Star Trek Anniversary beer. We checked out the gaming area and played a few games of Shadows over Westminster where we chatted with the game’s designer. After a bit more cosplay watching along the Gaslight district, we called it a night.

Saturday was crazy, so I knew that I could get to the Con a bit later. I met author Jonathan Maberry who had edited an anthology I was a part of. When he asked me what story I had written, I totally blanked and couldn’t remember the title of my story (which was Dirt Man, about a grave golem terrorizing a small town). Had a great lunch at Smash burger. Got my ROM #1 SDCC Exclusive edition signed by the creative team. The crowds near the end of the day were insane. It took us over 20 minutes just to go from our shuttle bus drop-off area to the Gaslight district. After dinner, we headed back to the rooftop bar, but were turned away as it was an NBC exclusive party. 

On Sunday, after carefully backing my books and loot, we hit the show for our last day. Did a bit more shopping picking up an Enterprise Hallmark ornament and a Shopkins exclusive toy for my daughter. I picked up my lovely Punk Storm sketch by the talented Jae Lee, who turned out to be a big fan of my blog. We had a last dinner at a Kansas BBQ joint where scenes from Top Gun were filmed. Exhausted, we picked up our luggage and flew out on the red eye.

This was my third visit to SDCC and each of them is special in their own way. I travelled with 3 other guys who had never been, and part of the fun was simply watching their shock and awe as they experience the enormity of SDCC. The Fan Expo we enjoy in Toronto is nowhere near the scale of SDCC. The venue and administration at SDCC is much better handled and has more of a professional feel to it. Also, San Diego genuinely embraces the Comic Con, with nearby hotel venues, theme restaurants, and an overwhelming amount of off-site activities. My only real complain was how all the lines for the signings were handled. Not a lot of the volunteers knew what was going on which spawned many different and confusing line-ups. The highlights of the show to me were meeting the creative team of Monstress and that beautiful Punk Storm sketch by Jae Lee.

Nightcrawler by Alan Davis

1981 - Firelord by John Byrne

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dazzler vinyl cover from SDCC

Some awesome Dazzler swag from the #XMenApocalypse booth at #SDCC2016.

If you pre-ordered the X-Men: Apocalypse Blu-ray release, you received a limited-edition Dazzler vinyl cover featured in the movie.

The film arrives on Digital HD on Sept. 9 and on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD on Oct. 4.

Dazzler vinyl cover from SDCC

Some awesome Dazzler swag from the #XMenApocalypse booth at #SDCC2016.

If you pre-ordered the X-Men: Apocalypse Blu-ray release, you received a limited-edition Dazzler vinyl cover featured in the movie.

The film arrives on Digital HD on Sept. 9 and on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD on Oct. 4.


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