Author Archives: Casual Comics Guy

The Vision #1 – Best Comic of the Year (so far)

Between moving my family across the country and taking care of a few side projects, I’ve been neglecting this blog. But, in addition to all the personal business, there just hasn’t been that much for a casual comics fan to rave about. Until now, that is…

The first issue of “The Vision” is a revelation. This single issue is the epitome of what a superhero / sci-fi comic can be – twisting what we think we know about heroes to create a mind-bending, thought-provoking, and slightly creepy tale.

The Vision #1. Writer: Tom King; Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Marvel Comics.

I’m not sure what people who only know of the character from Avengers: Age of Ultron will make of this book. It’s tough to say what the title can become, but one issue in it’s definitely not a standard superhero adventure book. Read the rest of this entry


Third and Tennant

Weirdly, I’m going to ask you to ignore this post – unless you are a fan of both Doctor Who and fantasy football.

I created a logo for my fantasy football team – “Third and Tennant” (get it?), which you can see below.

I’m posting it only because ESPN will not let me directly upload the image…

Third and Tennant

Aliens vs. Pooh

The Alien vs. Pooh webcomic is a special kind of genius. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out what happens when the best xenomorphs in cinematic history come to the Hundred Acre woods.

The pencil and crayon drawings are delightful and bring a layer of whimsy to a twisted tale.

I would love to see this in print.

Just wanted to draw your attention to this online delight.


Awesome Comic Find of the Month – Killer Queen Anthology

As the weather warms here in Ohio, it’s getting easier to get out and about. I’ll fill you in on the details of the Indie Comics Expo I attended today at some other time.

I’m far too excited to tell you about what I found.


Killer Queen: A Comics Anthology, published by Red Stylo, is a really clever and unusual collection of comic stories from local, independent artists. The editor, Enrica Jang, explained that, on an annual basis, they challenge creators to develop one-shot comics around a particular theme. The theme for this issue? Stories inspired by the songs of Queen.

This is the perfect mash-up of rock and roll and comics. Queen’s songs are already lyrically rich, so it’s fascinating to see how literally the creators took the song when building a book. Some, like ’39 take the story as presented in the song and fill in the details.

Others, are intense and abstract. Flipping through the book, the story that convinced me to lay down the $30 to get the book was Don’t Stop Me Now which takes the power and energy of the song and slams it onto the page – a real rocketship on the way to Mars blasting into your eyeballs.


Words can’t express my love for this page.

$30 might seem pretty steep. Believe me, as a casual comics fan, I’m not used to paying this much for a book. However, with contributions from over 40 writers and artists, the book collects 17 stories, as well as one-page Queen-themed artworks. This book is a great value for the price and comes with a “must-have” rating for any comic fans who love the music of Queen.


You can find the book online at the publisher’s web site. Because I love each and every one of you like my own family, I’ll try and find out if I can wrangle a digital download sample for you all. They were giving away download codes at the show, so I’m hoping my limited social skills will be able to handle the task. But, if I were you, I’d rush Headlong  down the (digital) highway and order the book now.



Hot Comics Picks of the Week (March 4, 2015 edition)

It’s not really fair to call it a preview if it comes out after the comics hit the shelves, so let’s call them “Hot Picks” for this week. Once again, you can thank the mighty men at Dragon’s Lair in Omaha for the picks this week.

As for me, I’m still trying to catch up on Kelly Sue DeConnick’s pretty takedown of the patriarchy in Bitch Planet #2 and 3, so I’m glad CJ sent me some hot comics to spotlight this week.

Princess Leia #1

Princess Leai #1. Writer: Mark Waid Art: Terry Dodson Cover: Terry Dodson . Marvel Comics.

Now that Marvel and Star Wars have been conquered and absorbed into the magic kingdom, things are consolidating faster than I expected. The last thing I need to see is another prequel to TOS, but if CJ says it’s worth checking out, I’ll go with it.

So what’s it all about?

When Princess Leia Organa was captured by the Empire as a Rebel spy, she never betrayed her convictions, even in the face of the complete destruction of her home world, Alderaan. When her rescue came, she grabbed a blaster and joined the fight, escaping back to the Rebel Alliance and helping strike the biggest blow against the Empire-the destruction of the Death Star. But in the aftermath of that victory, the question remains…what is a princess without a world?

Guardians Team-up #1

Guardians Tean-Up #1. Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Arthur Adams Cover: Arthur Adams . Marvel Comics.

Such a gorgeous cover. I’m skeptical that every character appearing on that cover can possibly appear in the pages of this book, but it’s worth a look. I haven’t yet found a Guardians title that I like. Ever. However, since the movie was so awesome, I’ll give this one a try, too.

Day Men #6

Day Men #6. Writer: Matt Gagnon Art: Brian Stelfreeze Cover: Brian Stelfreeze. Boom Studios.

This is where the disconnect between a professional comics guy and a Casual Comics Guy becomes clear. I love the recommendations I get from CJ and the Lair professionals. I’m sure this is a great book. Here’s the solicit:

Kellen’s gambit is over: the Virgos’ last ditch attempt to find proof of the Scourge has failed, and Azalea will be subject to Justice by Day. But before that ultimate battle between Day Men occurs, David must race up to Vermont to save his mentor Blackwill from his betrayer, Lera.

This is probably an awesome story and a great title, but that whole thing means nothing to me. So, I’ll probably do the Casual Comics thing and wait for the trade paperback, hope that they carry it at Barnes and Noble, and then read it on a Saturday at the store while I drink a coffee (Venti decaf Americano, splash of soy, please…)

Even living on my own in Ohio, waiting for my family to move out here with me, I’ve barely got enough time to keep up on the comics. So, let’s look at the list of new comics and find a Casual Comics Pick of the Week.

Aaaaand, I found it.

Alex + Ada TPB Volume 2

Alex + Ada vol. 2 TPB. By Jonathan Luna and Sara Vaughan. Image Comics.

Alex + Ada vol. 2 TPB. By Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughan. Image Comics.

This is the most magical, delightful series I’ve read in ages. I’ve got a very short list of series that I would classify as “must owns” – books that inform the human condition while also telling an entertaining story with visuals that delight without overwhelming. Miracleman and Watchmen completed the 80s and 90s. If you want to be in on a series as important as those are, you should be reading this.

I don’t read many (read any) comics every month. I was reading this every single month… This was the comic that inspired me to create a pull list for the first time ever. Since I moved to Ohio, though, I lost track of which issues I’ve bought and which I need.

It’s time for me to just give in and get caught up on this magnificent series, even if I’m buying some issues for a second time.

I love me some Alex + Ada, and that’s why Alex + Ada TPB vol. 2 is my Casual Comics Hot Pick of the Week.

I’ll be heading to Laughing Ogre comics in Columbus this weekend to get it. I hope you’ll also support you local comic book shop.



Hot Comics of the Week – Snowed-in edition (Week of February 18, 2015)

This week, I decided to call in the big guns for the weekly picks. Once again, the guys at Dragon’s Lair in Omaha, NE have personally curated your selection of comics for this week.

I sent a message to CJ early in the week asking him if he could send over picks, and he graciously agreed. Then, he let me know mid-week that the comics were late arriving due to the weather, and so his picks would also be arriving later. I asked if he could just give me a list of the hot books before the shipment came in, to which he replied, “Tough to tell what’s gonna be good without actually seeing them.”

Reading the books before making the picks? I guess I learn something new every day.

So, this week, you get the insights of someone who has actually read the books being recommended here.


Silk #1. Writer: Robbie Thompson Art: Stacey Lee Cover: Dave Johnson . Marvel Comics.

Last week, I talked about my plans to catch up with the Spider Verse story arc. Based on the solicit for this book, I fear I may be too far behind for it to ever make sense.

Cindy Moon exploded out of her bunker and into the Marvel Universe when we first learned that she had been bitten by that same radioactive spider in the first arc of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. She then went on to save Peter Parker’s life (more than once!) and traverse the Spider-verse alongside Spider-Woman. Now, as SILK, Cindy is on her own in New York City, searching for her past, defining her own future, and webbing up wrong-doers along the way! Robbie Thompson (writer from TV’s Supernatural) fills this new ongoing series with his unique blend of antics and feels. Featuring stunning covers by Eisner Award winner Dave Johnson and interiors by future superstar Stacey Lee.

This sounds more complicated than the dreaded Clone Saga, but is far more widely acclaimed. Between Silk and Spider Gwen, I guess I have some catching up to do.

Legendary Star Lord #9


Legendary Star Lord #9. Writer: Sam Humphries Art: Paco Medina Cover: Paco Medina. Marvel Comics.

I’m glad CJ read this one, because this might win the award for “Worst Comic Cover of the Month”. Let’s count down the individual elements that add up to an awful comic book cover.

Whatever that artifact is that dominates the center of the cover looks ridiculous – something like an Oscar trophy modeled after Luke Cage and Deadmaus’ love-child.

  • Star-Lord’s ludicrous Firestorm hairdo.
  • Cyclops is not just a boring dud, but also appears to be a dumb mouth-breather here.
  • I have no idea who that space pirate behind Cyclops is. He sure seems happy, though.
  • Is Kitty Pryde preparing to fight or to give Storm a scalp massage? Read this thrilling issue to find out.
  • Just to the left of the space trophy… Is that Booster Gold? How did he get here?
  • Jean Grey looks like she’s ready to wash that man right out of her hair…
  • And, finally, the most egregious offense of this cover – The ridiculous pose in the lower right corner.


So, there you have it. Just two picks this time.  And they’re delivered late, to boot. But, at least this time they were carefully curated by someone who actually read the books before I recommended them. More to come once the Midwest thaws out…






Awesome Comic-Related Release of the Week – Spider Gwen / Vinyl Single

OK – So, I have to admit, I haven’t read any of the Spider-Verse titles yet. I have called my (new) local comic book shop, Laughing Ogre in Columbus, OH, and asked them to pull the series for me.

Based on the love I’m hearing for the new character, Spider-Gwen, it seems like I’m getting into the title just in the nick of time.

spider gwen

For the release of the first issue of her solo title, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find – a comic shop in Charlotte, NC – is having a release party that features the band “Married with Sea Monsters“. They’ll have a new 7” single with some rocking cover art. And, the single is white vinyl with a Spidey-themed label.



Anyone in North Carolina able to go snag me a copy?

More details are here.

And you can listen to the song right here:

Bring the hype…  I’m extremely excited to catch up on the Spider-verse now.


The Vision and Scarlet Witch need your help

Right now, Comics Alliance is running a poll on the best comic couples of all time. The Vision and Scarlet Witch – who are obviously the greatest comics couple of all time – are lagging in the voting.

As ancient wisdom informs us, haters are obviously going to hate. Thusly, the couple is way behind in the polls. Please head over and give them some love this Valentine’s day…


Casual Comics Character Primer – Avengers 2: Who is the Scarlet Witch?

Let’s take a look at the “better half” of my favorite Marvel couple – The Scarlet Witch.

Scarlet Witch

At least I hope it’s “The Scarlet Witch”… (Checks the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe)

Curse you, Marvel! According to their guide, it’s just “Scarlet Witch”, no “The”. I had the same problem with her hubby, Vision.

In the upcoming movie, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Marvel will finally be bringing my favorite mutant to the big screen. For those of you who may not know who she is, you’re in luck. I’m about to lay some information on you. And I think most of it is accurate.

Where necessary, I’ll consult The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe because, as far I’m concerned, Marvel continuity ended in 1983.

Origin: Wanda, and her brother Pietro (aka Quicksilver) are the children of Magneto. However, because Fox still owns the rights to X-Men, you won’t see that in the movie. There will probably be an inside joke or two you might get, though, now that you know that.

Family and Friend dinners got awkward in a hurry.

Holiday dinners got awkward in a hurry.

Wanda’s mother was afraid of Magneto after she found out he was a was a mutant with villainous tendencies – understandable, really. So, before she delivered the babies, she ran away to Mount Wundagore where (and this is going to sound silly) she met a half-woman, half-cow creature named Bova.

This is not a joke.


Comics were simpler then…


After delivering the twins, she ran away (presumably to die in the freezing cold) and left them to be raised by the cow-woman. Her “World’s Worst Twins’ Mom” title would later be assumed by Princess Amidala.

Fast forward through terrible gypsy step-parents, and The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver became villains, working for Magneto – and none of the three even knew they were related.

xmen 4

And for some reason, her costume was green – even though she’s the Scarlet Witch.


Later, she switched allegiances and joined the Avengers – which is where she met her main squeeze, Vision.


Powers: The Scarlet Witch has three main powers (listed from least to most impressive).

1. She knows real magic. After joining the Avengers, she trained with Agatha Harkness (an honest-to-goodness witch), so she does have mystical powers. I’m also including her hex bolts here, which are just basically a “magic missile” spell.


2. She can alter probabilities. Her mutant powers allow her to make things that are highly improbable happen, simply by changing probabilities. It might sound lame, but it’s super-powerful. For instance, it’s really improbable that a steel door would rust and crumble in seconds instead of centuries, but she’s made that happen.


3. Hips

hips 1

How to Identify The Scarlet Witch – a Spotter’s Guide

If you’re looking for The Scarlet Witch, you’re looking for a woman with long, curly, red hair and an upside-down “W” on her head.

hips 4

Also, she’s likely to be wearing sheer red stockings and an outfit cut up and over her hips.

(Even when she’s pregnant)


Unofficially known as the “Scarlet Mommy” costume.


She’s probably also casting hex fields in-between going on a rampage when someone hints that her synthozoid husband is not a “person”.

Examining her and Vision separately is not as easy as dissecting them as a couple, but their combined family tree is mind-blowing in its complexity.

Be on the lookout for Elisabeth Olsen as The Scarlet Witch in the upcoming Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. The tease at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier promises a great onscreen version of Wanda.

Looks like they’re going for the classic MST3K “creepy girl”, which is perfect.


With the new revelation that the Hulk / Iron Man throwdown in Avengers 2 is because Wanda’s hex powers cause Hulk to get out of control, I’m even more excited for her introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Casual Comics Primer – Who is the Vision?

For those casual comic fans out there, I thought I’d start a series of posts with the basics on some characters that are about to get a lot more exposure.

With the explosion of Marvel in the media, there have got to be a few people wondering, “who the heck is Iron Fist and why is he getting a Netflix series?” If that’s you… sorry, you’ll have to wait for a future post. Because I’m starting with one half of my favorite comics couple in history. The Vision.

Ever since they announced that The Vision will be in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, I’ve been super-pumped. And, I’ve been planning to explain why for a while now.

I’ve been awaiting my muse on this post for months. Now, thanks to Capital Comics in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, inspiration has struck.

Over the holidays, I bought the definitive tome on all these characters. I’m speaking, of course, of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. At half price, the 12-issue series only cost me $10.

Marvel U 1

And, as you can see, my favorite synthozoid is even on the cover of issue #12.

Marvel U 2

So, let’s start there. I’m about to crack the seal on this set and we’ll take a trip down memory lane, rediscovering these characters again through the lens of the official Marvel canon, as published in 1983 by the mighty House of Ideas.

Since he appears on the cover of #12, let’s go ahead and start with The Vision.

Here’s his mug shot from the issue:


Well – first off, let me apologize to my main man. According to the title of his section, he’s not “The Vision”, he’s simply “Vision”. Perhaps Mister Vision, if you’re nasty.

Let’s get the hardcore details out of the way first. According to the book, here are his relevant details of his biography:

Real Name: Vision

So, not “The Vision”. Sorry again, pal.

Occupation: Adventurer

I wasn’t aware that was an option when I picked a major, but I wish I had known.

Identity: Publicly known

Legal Status: Unknown

Apparently synthozoid rights hadn’t been hammered out in 1983. If I recall it correctly, the government deactivated Vision and/or held him prisoner at some point. I hope they decided on his civil rights at that time.

Former Aliases: Human Torch, Jim Hammond

Human Torch, yes. Jim Hammond? No idea…

Place of Creation: Brooklyn, NY

Marital Status: Married

Base of Operations: Leonia, NJ

First Appearance: (as Human Torch I) Fantastic Four Annual #4, (as Vision) Avengers #57

But when was the first appearance of Jim Hammond. Dang you, Marvel. I know I can probably look it up on the internet, but what were readers in 1983 supposed to do?

OK – I just looked it up. Apparently, Jim Hammond was the original Human Torch’s secret identity. But, I think he was a robot, too. I don’t know what’s going on here. All casual fans can feel free to disregard Jim Hammond – it’s only going to make your head hurt.


This is how the Jim Hammond investigation made me feel.

How to Identify Vision – a Spotter’s Guide

With that out of the way, let me fill you in on Vision. He’s easily identifiable because of these unique characteristics.

If you’re looking at a guy with a red face, a green head, and a yellow corset, chances are you’ve found Vision.

The-Vision (1)

Also, he cries a lot more than a robot should. He’s got a fully synthetic body. What’s leaking from his eyes?

He also has a diamond on his head that we’ll discuss in a second when we talk about his powers.

And, don’t forget the black and soulless eyes that some artists put sparklies in.

Is Vision a robot or a human?

Well, he’s a synthozoid. In one of the Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series, he is described as having a human mind in a fully synthetic body – including the brain. But he’s gone back and forth between being more robotic vs. fully human.

It’s important to know where he’s at on the human/robot spectrum. Mainly because the robot Vision is way more likely to go on a rampage, get taken over by other evil A.I.s, or become a massive destructive jerk for a wide variety of reasons.

There’s one key to knowing whether he’s more human or robot at any given time. Look at the speech bubbles. They are drawn blockier when he’s more of a robot.


Robot Vision

They’re drawn normally when he’s more of a human.

vsw human

Human Vision… driving a station wagon for some reason.

Just remember the saying (that I just made up)…Round and white, he’s alright. Square and yellow means a robot fellow.

What are Vision’s powers?

The main one is that he can alter his body’s density. When he’s less dense, he can fly and walk through walls.

When he’s more dense, he can absorb huge blows and deal massive damage. The one unique thing you’ll see from Vision is that he can make his limbs less dense, phase them into another being, and become slightly more dense, causing massive amount of pain.

Vision Phase

Sure looks like it hurts.

Through his head diamond, he can also shoot solar beams at his enemies.

Solar Beam

He also has eye lasers, but that seems pretty repetitive with the solar head beam.

Lastly, he’s married to the Scarlet Witch. That may not be a “super power”, but if a synthozoid can convince Wanda to marry him, it’s still notable.


The rest of the team seems pretty impressed with this power.

So, in a nutshell, that’s Vision. If you want to know more about him, you should check out the Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series.

I’ll be back soon with another primer – this time for The Scarlet Witch. (I sure hope it’s “The Scarlet Witch” and not just “Scarlet Witch”).

Until then, here’s wishing you peace, love, and great comics.