Morning BS: Five Graphic Novels Iron Fist Novels You Need To Read

With Danny Rand and company hitting our screens tomorrow, now is the best time to catch up with the living weapon known as the immortal Iron Fist

A quick note before we start; even if the critics dislike this show, go give it a chance to impress you and make your own mind up about it. Iron Fist has a proud history and I’m sure he will translate well to the small screen. If you need any more convincing check these books out!


Shadowlands


While more of a Marvel Knights storyline, Shadowlands sees Daredevil turn evil, becoming the leader of the enigmatic Hand Clan, and the rest of the heroes of New York coming together to deal with him. Iron Fist is one of the biggest heroes in this crossover and his appearance gives you a really good feel for the level of his power and what Rand can do at the height of his power. It’s the perfect introduction to him and the rest of the New York heroes.


The New Avengers Volume One


While not as prominent as Luke Cage in the circles of the Avengers and other super teams, Iron Fist has been a member of the New Avengers in several iterations. This is probably his best appearance, alongside the likes of Doctor Strange and Wolverine. The first volume mostly focuses around Doctor Strange dealing with the magical forces that give him his powers but it also contains a great Iron Fist story that has interesting implications for the character and his life.


Iron Fist: The Living Weapon Volume One: Rage


This is essentially the gritty reboot of Iron Fist and his origin, it looks at his relationship with his father figures and his general world view. This series has been referenced as a main influence for the Netflix series and it is probably one of the best places to get the definitive Iron Fist origin.


The Immortal Iron Fist Volume One: The Last Iron Fist Story


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Matt Fractions Immortal Iron Fist is seen as a character defining run. It’s possibly one of the great titles from its era and it was a complete underground hit, never seeing much love at the time but instead blowing up after release. It examines the lineage of the Iron Fist and helps to build the mythology of the character in ways you wouldn’t believe. If you only take one book from this list it should probably be this one, but this isn’t the book you’ll buy…


Power Man And Iron Fist Volume One: The Boys Are Back In Town


…This one is. I cannot recommend this book enough and with the Defenders becoming a reality, now is the time to get into this famous dynamic duo. The first arc sees Iron Fist bring his best friend, Luke Cage, away from the duties of a young parent and into the streets reliving their glory days. There’s a million little things about this series to enjoy but at the end of the day its fun and you can’t say more than that.

Are you going to pick up any of these books? Are you psyched for the Iron Fist series? Let me know in the comment section down below, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Beartrails/ or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BearTrails

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bearsleuthWritten by: Patrick Lunn

Anime 101: Hunter X Hunter (2011)

33 collected volumes, 148 episodes, two movies and 366 hours of my life on one hell of an adventure!

Mild spoilers

For a few years I’ve had people recommend to me Hunter X Hunter purely based on my love for Dragon Ball. Because of this I put the show down as a copycat of Dragon Ball and never made the effort. Over the course of a week my opinion radically shifted from ‘Dragon Ball knockoff’ to ‘This is the greatest show I’ve ever seen’, and the best part was that I was only just scratching the surface of what the show was really about.

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Left to right: Kurapika, Gon, Killua and Leorio

What is Hunter X Hunter?

Hunter X Hunter is a major ongoing manga series created by Yoshihiro Togashi. The series has been serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1998 and has been adapted into two anime TV shows: the first produced from 1999 – 2001 by Nippon Animation and ran for 62 episodes, the second produced by Madhouse Studios and aired from 2011 to 2014.

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Left to right: 1999 and 2011

The story in its most basic form focuses on a young boy named Gon Freecss as he decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a legendary Hunter. It’s worth noting from the start than Gon lived his life to this point believing his father was dead, when in actual fact his father abandoned him to live his life as a Pro-Hunter. Hunters are licensed professionals capable of carrying tasks such as… well, hunting: hunting criminals and treasure, just to name a few.

 

To date 33 volumes of Hunter X Hunter have been translated into English and published by Viz Media. The 2011 anime series is available to stream on Netflix and Crunchyroll.

What separates it from the crowd?

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Killua & Gon

Where Hunter X Hunter truly excels is with its cast of well-developed and memorable characters. I found that I enjoyed and cared for 90% of the characters in the show–this is made more possible by having the characters not follow already existing tropes in shonen anime–the absolute highlight being the friendship between protagonists Gon and Killua.
The relationship between these two characters is well-developed and made believable by how they treat each other, as well as through their interactions. An example of this is the characterisation of Killua Zoldyck, heir to the Zoldyck family of assassins.

 

When it comes to antagonists, Hunter X Hunter delivers them with as much development and characterisation as its protagonists. We spend enough time with each villain to realise they’re not justifying their actions because they’re just straight up evil; each one is made relatable and interesting. My favourite example of this is shown with Yorknew Arc where we’re introduced to a renowned gang of thieves known as The Phantom Troupe.

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The Phantom Troupe

Final thoughts

As I mentioned at the start, I went into Hunter X Hunter with little to no expectations and was completely blown away. At no point did the show feel like a chore to watch; both the story and characters were engaging and well-paced. The soundtrack is nothing to scream about, but it does the job of expressing tone and emotion when necessary. The animation is very well done, but it’s not without its faults as the childish style gives the wrong impression to newcomers and may put people off. Hunter X Hunter is a beautiful show with a strong story and memorable cast to match it, and is worthy of the praise surrounding it. This is a show that deserves to be watched.

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Hunter X Hunter is available to stream on Netflix & Crunchyroll.

Written by: The Covert Coot

Edited by: IvyM

The BearSleuth Week Geek Out – LaMarr And Snyder And Bears…Oh My!

This week I am determined to get this feature up at a reasonable time! Last week was just a trial run but this is absolute prime time professionalism in article form. Unfortunately, to my knowledge their is very little to talk about in the world of television so I’m going to jump across and examine what’s going on over at YouTube. Apart from that all I have to say is that it’s been a damn good week and I hope all you back-to-schoolers are settling in well.

The Week In Comics


 

This week is looking pretty strong in the world of comics, the shelves are pretty densely packed and their is certainly a lot of talent to be found. An underground hit of the week has to be Scarlet Witch #10 which is pretty much a perfect self contained story for the character looking at her role in the magical community. Over with the Team Aqua that is DC we have some awesome titles including All-Star Batman #2 and Suicide Squad #2 showcasing talent from two of the greatest creators in the comic book industry, Snyder and Lee.

Marvel’s Team Magma are looking sound all round with some brilliant tie-in titles but my pick of the week has to go to Amazing Spider-Man Civil War II #4, which has to be one of the most complex titles I have ever written. The finale of the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in is probably going to place the series as the strongest of the Civil War II tie-ins to date as it fully succeeds in an examination of the main themes of the event. If you are only going to pick up one tie-in make it this one…then maybe squeeze your budget for the X-Men tie-in as well!

The Week In Film


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Well this week I actually went to see a film which I can talk about, Don’t Breathe. This film was pretty much schlock of the highest order with a particular scene added in just for shock value and so the film can be ‘the film that went there’. I actually think this is a horror targeted at a more female audience as the shock scene is harder to relate to from a male perspective, which probably goes a long way to spoiling it. The male characters are embarrassingly weak but the female lead, played by Jane Levy, seems to have a good amount of depth to her. The villain is essentially, old and evil Daredevil and I find that the film makes a lot more sense in that light.

Like I said up top, there’s not really much in the way of TV news from me at the moment, just finished Stranger Things which gave me a new appreciation for child actors and small-town sci-fi. Heading over to YouTube, Fatman On Batman just interviewed Phil LaMarr and you have to see it if you are in anyway a geek. My YouTube tastes are fairly vanilla but I recommend Yahtzee19,  KaptainKristian and Vuepoint’s Jack’s World if you are looking for something new.

The Week In Gaming


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Pre are in the ten week countdown for Pokemon!!! Like any good fan I’m attempting a run through of HeartGold, Pearl, Black, White 2, X and finally Omega Ruby before grabbing a copy of Sun. I’m going to be grabbing a bunch of grass starters in the way, the unloved Ringos of Pokemon starters, and basically getting myself back in that ten-year-old mind-set. Apart from that I’m continuing a play through of Dark Souls with Ollie from LoneWolfGaming and playing Until Dawn with Will, the BearSleuth camera man.

In Other News…


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The world is teetering on the brink of disaster from a take over of regional pronunciation starting with a plague of government sponsored academies and there will be more news coming on the new BearSleuth writer later this week. That’s about it for this week folks but be sure to come back next week for more sleuthing!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for a brand new article!!!

BearSleuth Week Geek Out

Like I said in my last post, it’s becoming a lot hard to find time for my normal Sleuthing, which is why this new feature is coming to you a little late. I wanted to make sure I gave it my full attention and due to a quick trip to A&E that became borderline impossible, I managed to tear some muscles in a fight with a bird table (don’t ask). Anyway, I have a lot to talk about so I think it’s time to stop faffing about and get stuck in!

The Week In Comics


It’s been a really good week in the world of comics. While the shelves were a little sparse, DC knocked out a few brilliant books with the new Tom King Batman Issue Six probably taking the top spot from the blue corner. Over in the red of Marvel is my top pick for the week, Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight. This book is complex, intelligent and really shows what the modern industry techniques developed in the independent market can add to the mainstream. I also read Asterios Polyp this week and I can whole heartedly say that it is the only graphic novel to have changed my life. If you are able to get your hands on a copy you 100% should.

The Week In Film (And TV)


The run up to Doctor Strange is gripping a lot of comic book fans now with the inevitable ‘I want to get into Doctor Strange…’ posts slowly creeping onto reddit. For anyone looking for a Doctor Strange recommendation, it’s pretty hard as most of his stuff comes from the silver and bronze age of comics which can feel very dated. Check out ‘The Oath’ and maybe Jason Aaron’s new Doctor Strange series as they present the more modern take on the character.

In other news, Rogue One is struggling, to no one’s surprise (this is what happens when you put a Godzilla director on a Star Wars flick). Also a Dark Tower trailer will be airing next month so keep your peepers peeled. Turning to TV quickly, apparently the Luke Cage series looks good and the new Ghost Rider looks okay enough to get people to notice Agents Of Shield still exists.  Personally, I’ve been getting into Stranger Things and I’m going to surprise no one by saying it’s a great show, likely to become the next massive hit.

The Week In Gaming


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This week saw the world of console gaming reveal its massive throbbing erections for the PC master race as consoles take that one bold step into becoming computers. I don’t really care for 4k optimisation so I can’t say this affects me but if you are one of those graphics snobs then this…probably doesn’t matter to you because you already have a gangster rig (or whatever the cool kids are calling it). Deus Ex is gracing the shelves again, which is cool as we don’t have enough ultra-gritty cyberpunk dystopia running around. This week I’m replaying Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne because I’m a masochist when it comes to gaming.

And Finally…


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In other news, the world is teetering on the edge of destruction from the imminent threat of a mass custard pie orgy at the top of Trump tower and I am proud to announce that we are adding another writer to the BearSleuth roster. While I’m not ready to say much yet SHE is a perfect fit for the team and I’m sure HER articles are going to be a great hit!

Subtlety was always one of my strong points.

…That’s this week’s BearSleuth Week Geek Out!!! Check back on Friday for something new!!!

BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Fifty

For the first time in recent memory the shelves in my local comic book store looked a little bare. With the exception of a handful of tie-ins, there is now Civil War II has ground to a halt, leaves us to wait another week for a main book. On top of that this week there are no DC Rebirth titles, well to be honest there’s a Suicide Squad mini-series but nothing of any substance. So this week we are looking at the fringes and a few highlights I’ve been wanting to cover for awhile which, for one reason or another, haven’t really shown up on my list. Trust your humble Sleuth, I’ll see you right!

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics apps [Accessed:02/09/2016]

Civil War II: Choosing Sides Issue Five By A Whole Phalanx Of Artists


 

I love Justin Trudeau! I might not know that much about Canadian politics, and the little I do know has come from a close friend and John Oliver, but it is great to see the Canadian Prime Minister turning up in the pages of a Marvel comic. I can’t say there is much more in this book to write home about but Trudeau’s presence is pretty cool. His section is written by Chip Zdarsky who delivers his usual mixture of tongue-in cheek humour and heart. The book is fairly mediocre from there on out making it hard to recommend but as a piece of political-comic book history it’s a highlight of the year.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Issue Eleven By Brian Michael Bendis And Valerio Schiti


 

The Guardians have just come off a monster arc, a planetary-wide cataclysmic arc that is 100% worth your time and attention. This issue is more of the calm before the storm. A brief reprieve setting up the major players in the next epic arc. There’s a lot of interesting character interactions as well as plenty of nods and winks towards the fans. It’s an issue that build heart and character. There really isn’t much to say past that, Schiti’s art is fairly tight and the set up for the big Civil War II tie-in is nice but if you want a big action set piece this is not the one for you. If you like the Guardians grab this book.

Han Solo Issue Three By Marjorie Liu And Mark Brooks


 

When you think of Han Solo you think of the rogue with the heart of gold and this story is entirely based around this concept. Marjorie Liu has created the perfect boys own adventure storyline in space and it is no small wonder that I am completely wrapped up in it. Han gets the cool lines and the brilliant stunts while the pulse racing action hammers on in a plot that will satisfy any Star Wars fan. The art by Mark Brooks is nice and has a lot of subtle detail for an eagle eyes reader. This is a big winner all round for me and is fully worthy of your time.

Ms. Marvel Issue Ten By G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa And Alphona


 

Most of the time the high school drama of super heroics wears thin with me. I don’t like the whinny emo stuff as I’ve been there and I know how much it makes you want to gouge out your own eyes years later. However, in Ms. Marvel G. Willow Wilson has worked hard to make the high school drama mean something, for it to deeply effect the heroine and her heroics. This book is a big Civil War II tie-in and I feel that it will be known as one of the hidden gems of the event for years to come. I like this book and if you are willing to try something different this is a great choice.

Rocket Raccoon And Groot Issue Eight By Nick Kocher And Michael Walsh


 

Well Skottie Young has left the building…whether he will come back or simply leave us hanging while he pens ‘I hate Fairyland’ is unknown as of writing this but I dare say he will emerge with another great idea soon. What isn’t unknown is that Nick Kocher was the only man who could have stepped into Young’s clownish shoes. His take on the title partnership is fantastic, funny and fierce. The story is a loose Civil War II tie-in with more of the group hijinks bubbling up to the surface. If you like the Guardians and you fancy a laugh this is the place to be.

Spider-Man Issue Seven By Brian Michael Bendis And Nico Leon


 

Can something finally happen in these issues? I love Bendis’ slow approach to character development with a lot of brilliantly handled teenage drama but I’m really getting sick of Spider-Man struggling to be Spider-Man. I feel like this story is just ticking over until Bendis can move off his other nineteen projects and give it full focus. I know that next issue or the one after my thoughts will be completely different again but for now I’m a little bored of Spider-Man. If you are a fan of Bendis or Miles or Spider-Man then stay tuned but this might be one you can miss.

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Tokyo Ghost Issue Ten By Rick Remender And Sean Murphy


 

Tokyo Ghost is over. Perhaps one of the greatest comics of the last year and it is finished, with chances if a sequel looking middling at best. So how did it all pan out? Perfectly. I know I’m speaking with a bit of fan boy biased here but, I cannot find a flaw in this finale. It’s a brilliant end to a brilliant book and I want every one of you reading this to go pick up the first trade paperback. This is the quiet riot we need in this digitally swamped age and it’s truly beautiful. If that doesn’t sell you on it I’m not sure what will.

Uncanny Avengers Issue Thirteen By Gerry Duggan And Ryan Stegman


 

Another issue of set up as we ease into a Civil War II tie-in. I don’t have much to say about this issue as it simply runs through a few team members and show us their roles in the coming war. It’s fun and if you wanted a little more depth after the main Civil War II books then I can highly recommend it but past that this is in one ear and out the other. This is the worst sort of book to review as its so on the fence, there is nothing offensively bad or angelically good to talk about so I will leave the recommendation to you. Sleuth. Out.

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free a Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back later today for a new OpinionatedDavid article!!!

Comic History 101: Siege

In 2009 the Marvel Universe was a terrifying place. Secret War had dissolved trust between the heroes and Shield in 2005. The Avengers had been broken and then reforged into a more dysfunctional team across Avengers Disassembled and New Avengers. House of M hit in late 2005 and the universe lost almost all of the mutants. Then Civil War came and turned the heroes against each other, only to be followed by World War Hulk and Secret Invasion which left the entire Marvel Universe in tatters with most heroes underground and Norman Osborn at the helm. Under Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada everything had changed and now it was time to put it back, or at least a push in the right direction so that Joe could hang the keys of the universe over. Quesada went to Brian Michael Bendis one last time and asked the writer to pull out all the stops, to make this the comic book equivalent of 4 of July fireworks. With this brief Bendis went insane and created one of the greatest events in the history of Marvel Comics.

The Grand Finale


In Civil War we had witnesses a war between heroes, in Secret Invasion it was a war between heroes and aliens, same again with Planet Hulk except the aliens had Hulk so there was only one natural step left. In Siege Norman Osborn declared war on Asgard, which due to a variety of interesting circumstances was flying over Oklahoma, he would break Thor and any other god that stood in his way and his Dark Avengers would make short work of any hero who choose to help defend the gods. In the early phases of the battle Osborn struck quickly with the Sentry, who turned out to be an incredibly powerful being called the Void, and took down Thor on national television. However, instead of breaking down any resistance to Osborn this galvanised his opponents, bringing together the Avengers, Secret Warriors, Young Avengers and several other smaller factions into a tight fighting unit under the guidance of not one but two Captain Americas. The third act played out about how you would expect, with a huge battle raging across the halls of Asgard and the heroes eventually emerging victorious.

The Dawning Of A New Age


When it comes to reception, Siege got very mixed reviews when it hit shelves. While a lot of people really liked the actual event it represented the undoing of a lot of great events and history in the Marvel Universe, the final scenes showed the super human registration act being thrown out which undid most of Civil War. I feel that the aftermath was a necessity but I do also agreed that it could have been handled better, however, the way the event plays out is fantastic. The book still sold extremely well and most review sites pitch it at the 4/5 mark and while this event is rarely talked about as the best it still holds up for me and I think you could make a case for it being as good as World War Hulk or Secret Invasion. This was the end of an era but it was also the birth of the ‘Heroic Age’ which would take Marvel to new heights! Join me next time on Comic History 101 when I will be looking at the other side of the aisle with Flashpoint and the Rebirth of the DC Universe.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!

Comic History 101: Gotham Central

There are a lot of sad stories in every medium and genre. Opportunities where true greatness could have come through but was unrecognised. Critics or general audiences take a book or film or piece of art and shoot it down because it is too experimental or doesn’t fit with the mainstream of the time. Gotham Central is one of these stories as it is a series that both saw wide acclaim in its critical reception and a devastating lack of sales. This is a series which had real potential but unfortunately didn’t quite make the break and for that it is simply fascinating to talk about.

Working day and night


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In March 2001 Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker worked together on a Batman crossover entitled ‘Officer Down’ in which Commissioner Gordon was shot by an unknown assailant. The crossover was fairly successful and the two writers found that they enjoyed working alongside one and other. This led them to bounce around a few ideas and eventually pitch a series looking at the cops of Gotham. Gotham Central. The interesting aspect of the piece came from Rucka and Brubaker’s decision to split the writing and the characters so that Rucka would be writing the day shift and Brubaker would be writing for the night shift. This gave the two GCPD crews very different feels and created a series that could run two stories simultaneously.

Eisners and failure


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The series began to gain some critical acclaim as it worked with very human problems and gave a different view point on the world of Gotham. This led to an Eisner nominations for the series in 2003 for best new series, best writer (for both Rucka and Brubaker) and best penciller/inker. With these nominations also came the new that the series was beginning to fail. It was consistently struggling to place in the top 100 each month and seemed to be losing it following. While Brubaker is quoted as saying this never presented a danger of cancellation for the series, it was plain to see that the higher ups at DC did not consider the series to be beneficial to their bottom line and so they began to divert resources away from the project. Lark and Brubaker began to drift on to other projects and eventually Rucka decided to cancel the series after Infinite Crisis.

Lesson’s to be learned


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When looking into why the series struggled I’m honestly a little perplexed, most reviews seem to be pretty positive and even the slightly more negative ones have specific problems with certain characters instead of the overarching narrative. This book was one of the strongest DC were putting to the shelves at the time and my only thought is that there was either a deficiency in the marketing campaign. There can be an issue with more experimental titles finding their place in the industry but with the rise of companies such as Image I think this series would have be seen as a worthy competitor to the growing independent scene if it had hit shelves today. This is just a case of the right book at the wrong time and I am glad that I am able to share with you this hidden gem of a book. Next week I will be looking at Secret Invasion and how Marvel looked at post-9/11 fears.

…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth spoiler free comic book bundle!!!

The return of the existential and terrific BoJack Horseman – Spoiler Free

If you weren’t already aware, Netflix’s BoJack Horseman returned with season three yesterday (22nd July), and after two seasons and one Christmas special, we the audience know what we’re in for… or do we?

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To those unfamiliar with the show it must seem like your run of the mill, foul mouthed animated comedy. But BoJack Horseman is much more than that, what the show presents us with is some of the most relatable characters ever created and puts them in situations parodying topical events in the real world, finally sprinkled off with pop culture references. Every season, every episode to date has been meaningful and to some people, myself included, meaningful on a more personal level – BoJack is ironically the most human character on TV today.

Season three kicks off hot of the back of season two with BoJack on a press tour building up to the release of the highly anticipated, Secretariat. With rumours that Secretariat and BoJack himself being nominated for an Oscar, we see BoJack’s career head in the direction he’s always wanted and finally reinventing himself as ‘BoJack Horseman, movie star’ as opposed to ‘that horse from Horsin’ Around’ – but if only it was that simple. The tagline for ‘Secretariat’ is ‘He’s tired of running in circles…’ and in a number ways, isn’t that what BoJack is doing?

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This season focuses more on the inner struggle of the cast as we’re given a flashback episode back to 2007, this episode puts a lot of things into perspective by showing the then and now, it all shows us that the characters are still in the pursuit of happiness. Example of this is we see BoJack also trying to free himself of just being ‘that horse from Horsin’ Around’ by developing another tv show which ultimately fails. We’re also given an episode at an underwater film festival and without giving away too much, the episode is almost entirely silent which adds to the tone and makes BoJack’s actions even stronger.

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Unlike previous seasons, season three doesn’t need to win over its audience, it comes in strong, confident and fully aware. In the second season, BoJack’s mother tells him,

‘You were born broken, that’s your birthright. And now you can fill your life with projects. Your books and your movies and your little girlfriends but it won’t make you whole. You’re BoJack Horseman. There’s no cure for that.’ – Season two, episode 1 ‘Brand New Couch’

I feel that quote stands out more throughout this season as it becomes clearer that even with the success of his professional career, none of it will fill the empty hole inside, BoJack will never be happy. Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom, well, it is very doom and blood but as we’ve come to expect all the feelings of existentialism and self-destruction are sugar coated. You may still be questioning your life after watching but for all the bleakness, there’s the balance of light hearted humour. BoJack Horseman is a show that still doesn’t hold back or pull its punches, despite its serious tone we still feel love for the characters and we still want more of them. It’s a damn good thing that the show has also been picked up for a fourth season.

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BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle Week Forty Four

It’s weeks like these that I live for as a comic book fan. I walked into my local comic book store today to be faced with a barrage of amazing titles backed up by the tightest of creative teams. DC are leading with their best foot forward this week with a triple hit of Batman, Justice League and Superman that will leave any reader breathless. To top that we’ve got a new Deadpool series and the beginning of a new Star Wars arc that will knock you off your feet. And while you’re on the ground there’s a left hook from Snotgirl and I Hate Fairyland to knock your socks off once and for all. Needless to say, I have survived this assault, wrestled my socks back on, and I’m ready to give you the official BearSleuth play by play.

 

All images are screenshots taken from the Marvel and DC Comics App [Accessed: 22/07/2016]

 

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Rebirth One-Shot By Julie Benson, Shawna Benson And Claire Rose


 

We’re starting with the weakest of the bunch this week but please don’t take that as a put down for Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey. This year has seen a Ghostbuster’s reboot that handled female characters with a greater care that the rest of the film industry and I feel there is a parallel to be drawn between that film and this book. The mainstream of the comic book industry has had a love-hate relationship with female characters and this book goes a long way to break away from the classic problems. Ever since Gail Simone’s work on Batgirl, and arguably before, the character has stood as a feminist icon in the industry and this book continues that tradition while also working not to sound preachy in its approach. The Benson’s merit the highest praise for making another great female-lead piece and, with Claire Rose’s artwork, this book deserves your attention and support.

 

Batman Issue Three By Tom King And David Finch


 

Sometimes I claim that a certain book would be the pick of the week if only it had fallen in another week because there is another book that has just blown it out the water, but even that doesn’t justify my situation this week. This week might contain two of my favourite comic books of the year and it is only because the other one might start a whole new trend in the industry that Batman Issue Three is not my pick of the week. This book does everything perfectly, the writing is so perfect that I cannot find a sing word that seems out of place or unnecessary, there is an elegance to King’s writing which I can only describe as otherworldly. The structure of the piece stands alone as a piece of art examining the soul of Batman whilst also falling neatly into the ongoing narrative of the book. I have a feeling this is a piece we will be studying for years as a paragon of writing and design in the medium. The artwork is solid here as well as it is simple, allowing the writing to hold the reader’s attention. This is a book and a series you need to follow. A modern classic.

 

Deadpool & The Mercs For Money Issue One By Cullen Bunn And Iban Coello


 

A Deadpool book that doesn’t just rely on one liners and instead turns change with heart and integrity while still perpetuating a sense of levity. Madness. Deadpool & The Mercs For Money continues Cullen Bunn’s trend for playing the character of Wade Wilson as a tragic anti-hero, a trend that has evolved over the years with the character. We see in this issue how Deadpool deals with his reputation in the wider hero community whilst also witnessing the further establishment of the Mercs For Money as individuals. There is also a reintroduction of a fan favourite character that I’m sure will be a pleasant treat for both comic readers and movie goers. This is a solid book and if you are a Deadpool fan then you need to pick it up.

 

I Hate Fairyland Issue Seven By Skottie Young


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I’ll be honest, I always had a good feeling about this series but I never quite expected it to be so strong and to grow such a wide fanbase. I Hate Fairyland is one of the first Image comics (after Walking Dead and Sex Criminals) that I have found non-comic book readers talking about. This is something I love to see and I really think it’s a great sign for the industry as it shows that not only the super hero books are finding their place in the mainstream. This book deserves major attention as well as it is unlike anything else on the shelves and a thoroughly original concept, with only gentle nods of the head to works such as Discworld. Skottie Young knows how to rock out in the art department and he makes sure to splash as much colour and life into every panel as possible. This is another series you should check out, even if you hate comic books this could be the one to turn your head.

 

Justice League Issue One By Bryan Hitch And Tony S. Daniel


 

The big buzzword everyone liked to use when talking about Geoff John’s Justice League series was ‘epic’ but I have a feeling that we are going to have to start toping that with a phase such as ‘divine opera’ when talking about Hitch’s run. The second panel in this book is a double page spread that just tells you everything you need to know about Hitch’s vision for the Justice League and how they should appear going forward. Hitch gets the idea of micro-macro writing that has always been at the heart of the series as we open on one of the most terrifying world catastrophes imaginable while we also see various personal dramas begin to show between the team mates. It’s this level of writing talent, coupled with pencil work by industry mainstay Tony S. Daniel that leaves us with a worthy successor to the work of Johns, Lee and Fabok. This is the start of something big, get in on the ground floor.

 

BearSleuth Pick Of The Week: Snotgirl Issue One By Bryan Lee O’Malley And Leslie Hung


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If you had asked me twenty four hours ago what my favourite book of the year is I would not have been able to give you an answer and I would probably have defaulted to Tom King’s Batman or Vision series. Now I can definitively say I know the answer. Snotgirl is the newest creation from Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim, and I think it might be his magnum opus. The concept is an original dramatic satire on modern life with the sort of out of the box approach that both O’Malley and Image have become famous for. There is a perfect sense of character from start to finish and the personality of even bit players seems to shine through. It’s interesting to see O’Malley moving to the writer’s seat while letting Leslie Hung take over on the artwork front but I think it’s fair to say that O’Malley, while having a style that complements his own writing, has never been the strongest in the art department. Hung works perfectly with O’Malley’s script creating a piece that doesn’t deserve to be in your collection but instead simply needs to be there.

 

Star Wars Issue Twenty One By Jason Aaron And Jorge Molina


 

The Darth Vader comic series is about to finish and I think it’s fair to say it has had a great run, that means it’s time for Marvel to attempt to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time with another Star Wars villain. If you missed the subtle hint on the cover of this issue, this issue appears to be a disguised-pilot for a Stormtrooper mini-series. As you would expect, this immediately triggered my critical defences like a fresh piece of meat being thrown into the lions pit but I have to say I like what we’ve been presented with here. The Stormtrooper squad look interesting and are each compelling enough character’s that they can pull off the anti-hero approach easily. Aaron has put in the work here and I have to say that it pays off in story that will delight Star Wars fans.

 

Superman Issue Three By Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason And Jorge Jimenez


 

I left this one to last. Honestly, I tried everything to escape reviewing this book, after loving the first two issues I really wanted to love this one two but I had been put off by the ending of the second issue and I didn’t want this issue to shatter my hope for a strong Superman series. I am happy to say that nothing of the sort happened when I read Superman Issue Three. This is a great piece and with the fantastic writing talent of Tomasi and Gleason behind it the book continues to deliver a plot that manages to drill to the core of what superman should represent. The art by Jimenez is sublime and there really is little else I can say about it. If you want a good Superman story you finally have one!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!! Check back today at 6pm for a new Adaptive Panels!!!

BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Comic Con Is Upon Us!

Every hobby community has it’s sacred holiday day. If you try to ask my football mad Dad to do anything while the world up is on then you are going to be lucky to get anything more than a vague grunt from him. I tried to get into contact with our very own gaming gremlin, VuePoint, while E3 was on and I didn’t get a single reply until the presentations were over. Now it’s my turn. I’m your friendly neighbourhood comic book guy and tomorrow marks the start of San Diego Comic Con. For the best part of a week the San Diego Convention Centre will become a temple for geekdom and at the heart of it will be every major comic book publisher from the titans of Marvel and DC all the way through to the rising success stories of the indie landscape. Whether it’s talking about new storylines, fielding questions from the wider community, looking at artist portfolios or teasing future events, the comic publishers will be acting as the high priests at the comic con temple and I can wait to see what gifts they conjure from the ether. On top of the comic book stuff there will hundreds of movie, video game, war game and reading events, promotions and announcements. Every year the convention gets a little bigger and this year is already set to top it’s predecessors.

How Can You Get A Piece Of The Action?


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If you are going to comic con I’m pretty sure you know by now and, unless a love one is about to surprise you with tickets, you might have to consider another to get involved with the event. If you have ever tried to follow E3 or EuroGamer then you should have a pretty good idea how this works. You can watch everything going down at comic con (except for close-doors reveals) on a stream, I personally recommend IGN as they tend to have strong coverage across the entire event but both Marvel Comics and the Hollywood Reporter have their own streams which are worth checking out. Obviously, as many of our readers are British, remember to check the stream’s schedule and then factor in any relevant time differences as not to miss anything. If you come across a point in the schedule that your stream isn’t covering then hop onto one of the others. This will get you closer to San Diego Comic Con however you can go one step further.

The Real Action.


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Jump back forty six years to the very first San Diego comic con, there were barely any attendees and it was essentially a few round table discussions with some of the industry big wigs and the fans. In fact, there was so little interest and funding that the industry had to put on a convention three months before ‘the big one’ just to fund the handful of guests they had. I tried to scour the internet for an image from these first conventions but they just didn’t even have the profile for a photographer, the earliest image I could find is the one above from the 1972 convention. Then things began to change slowly and with each year the panels and the guests profile began to get bigger and bigger. This year’s convention is only a worldwide phenomenon because of the tireless support of fans just like you and me. When enough people put their will behind something it can become bigger than any of them imagined, that’s the idea behind all these super heroes we love and that’s the idea behind comic con. Batman is just Bruce Wayne in a fancy suit right? Fuck no. He is a piece of our modern mythology, he is the modern Zeus or Thor. Our will lends him power. So if the fans before us could turn a few fans sitting around a table with a writer into one of the biggest events in the world why can’t we do it again?

Local Action


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About a decade ago (depending on who you ask), London played host to its first film and comic book convention, now it’s the third biggest comic book convention in the world. A few years ago, Manchester played host to its first comic book convention, which has almost doubled in size and success with every year to the point that it is now pretty much taking over the city in two weeks. Two years ago my home town of Wigan played host to its first comic convention and in only two years it’s seen a huge increase in prestige. These conventions are happening all the time and they are spreading like wildfire, so go out and get involved with the closest on to you, volunteer, exhibit or just simply attend. If there isn’t a comic book convention near you go and start one! Who knows forty six years from now you might be introducing the next Iron Man to your main stage or watching as the world is rocked by holographic technology that lets you become Batman. Anything is possible with enough will. If you think nerds don’t get that then just look at Green Lantern, we created a freaking hero dedicated to the concept…