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Issue #47.5 Release Date: 4/13/11 Vol.#9

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)
dot.comics presents SCABBARDS & GODS Vol.1
Indie Jones presents…


Written and Directed by: Ralph Suarez
Producer: Warm Milk Productions, Inc.
Available on DVD now!
Reviewed by: superhero

I’ll admit, I’ve been sitting on this review for a while. I got the DVD for PURGATORY COMICS a couple of weeks ago, watched it, and just had to sit with it for a bit. Not because writing a review for it presented any challenge, but mostly because it presented me with a problem. The problem being how do I find a way to not be too harsh on this movie?

I don’t want to trash an indie filmmaker’s work. I know how hard it is to make a movie especially when you’re independently funded. It’s a Herculean task. But there’s a big problem I had with the writer and director of PURGATORY COMICS and that’s the fact that he’s not Kevin Smith.

See, we already have a Kevin Smith and he already made CLERKS almost seventeen years ago and he set it in a convenience store. PURGATORY COMICS is CLERKS set in a comic book shop. That pretty much sums up the whole thing right there. The only problem is that director/writer Ralph Suarez is never really able to pull the whole thing together the way that Smith was able to with CLERKS.

Now PURGATORY COMICS isn’t a scene by scene rip-off of Kevin Smith’s inaugural film but tonally it’s very similar. The only problem is that CLERKS has been done before. Not only that, but CLERKS has been knocked off before. It also doesn’t help that Kevin Smith’s filmmaking and writing style has become so identified with the man himself that if someone’s aping that style they’re just comic off as a Johnny Come Lately. Aping Smith’s style is not going to win you points for originality these days.

Yes, it’s fine to be a Kevin Smith fan. I’m one myself. More of the man himself than of his movies. But if you want to pay tribute to CLERKS go off and make something original. Do what he did. Challenge that status quo by doing your own thing. As it is PURGATORY COMICS just comes off as “CLERKS Light” and that’s not a good thing. Anyone who likes Smith may like this movie but the more discerning fan might just see it for the warmed over clone it is.

The hardest thing for me to deal with is that there’s so much potential here. PURGATORY COMICS could have possibly been a great little piece of indie filmmaking but it just doesn’t do enough to pull away from its inspiration. I think if Ralph Suarez can get away from his Kevin Smith fixation, he could be a decent filmmaker someday. PURGATORY COMICS isn’t terrible but it’s just not good enough to live up to what it wants to be. I mean, let’s face it, if the biggest thing you can use to sell your movie is that one of Charlie Sheen’s “goddesses” pops her top off in a daydream sequence there’s a problem.

Find out more about PURGATORY COMICS on its Facebook page.

Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at and check out his blog at


Writer: Brian Williams
Art: Christian Colbert
Publisher: RavenHammer
Reviewer: Mr. Pasty

Reviewing comics is usually a no-brainer. I mean after all, we’re not exactly splitting the atom. I grew up reading comic books and despite cutting class through most of high school and being stoned through most of college, I’ve managed to retain the ability to string together complete sentences. So, with that in mind, reviews come easy. I know the landscape, I (usually) know what works and what doesn’t and I use this medium to express those opinions. So far, so good. Then Emperor Bug has to do a dirty little thing like send me a couple of comic books that have the words “black” and “Harlem” in them and sure as shit my confidence shrivels up like the candy cane legs of the Wicked Witch of the East. There’s a reason they call me Mr. Pasty and it’s not because I do a lot of right-clicking. Mr. Pasty + black comics = White Guy Anxiety, or “WGA” for short (pun intended).

After surrendering to my Caucasian instincts, I decided that proper protocol was to tiptoe through the animated hood, laugh when prompted to and nod supportingly at the book’s conclusion. “A fine effort Mr. Williams, kudos to you sir.” But then I thought, “What if this thing sucks? How do I bash a black comic?” So I decided to consult with my imaginary council of black sympathizers and they responded, “The same way you would bash a white comic.” I know the running joke in our society is how men and women will never figure out how to act around members of the opposite sex and well, I’m convinced the same holds true about members of the opposite race. But dammit, I know we’re all out there trying, so here goes.

LUCIUS HAMMER is a great comic book. Not good, great. I have to be honest with myself after the fact and wonder aloud if part of that has to do with my expectations going in. Quite frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t know what to expect the first time I got off the subway at 125th street but in both cases, I was able to climb another rung on my ladder of social understanding. One of the lessons learned here is that you can have a black comic book that doesn’t require you to be black to enjoy it. I don’t want to carry on like it’s 1955 and this is the first black comic to ever sit on the back of the bookshelf, but let’s not pretend that many of the previous offerings weren’t designed with a white appeal. That’s not an accusation, rather an unfortunate fact that was a sign of the times. If you wanted to play in the majors, you had to know when to take a pitch.

Brian Williams swings for the fences. And with LUCIUS HAMMER, he knocks one into the black (Yankee centerfield pun intended). HAMMER has a humble upbringing on his parent’s farm in Alabama and discovers early in life that he can do extraordinary things. He also stays grounded with the love and discipline of his parents until it’s time for him to fly the coop after the death of his mother. If it sounds a lot like Superman, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s The Man of Black Steel. Even if it is, I didn’t mind, because the execution was flawless as Williams seamlessly weaves in and out of social commentary without shouting from his soap box.

LUCIUS HAMMER is light enough to be enjoyed in the parking lot of your local comic shop and heavy enough to re-read at night before you hit the hay. Hammer experiences a lot of the same obstacles that most of us have (or will) experience as we try to uncover our purpose in this world. We make choices that seem like a good fit at the time but later give way to new pursuits. And being a superhero is no different than any other job: just when you feel like you’ve made it to the top, someone else shows up ready to take it all away. Christian Colbert adds just the right touch in both his pencils and his colors, bringing the necessary balance to keep HAMMER from reading like black propaganda. Is it? Only Williams knows for sure, but with his mastery of storytelling and fearless ending, I didn’t much care. I was too busy looking forward to issue #2.

Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.


Writer: Drew Blank
Cover art: Anders Backlund
Publisher: Booksurge Publishing
Guest Reviewer: Longbox Girl

Have you ever gone to a comic convention and run across some guy trying to cheat you out of all the glorious pictures that make a comic book a comic book and pawn off some crappy Steampunk novel or something like that? What better way to ruin the buzz of sensory overload that is a Comic Con than to look at a bunch of words that some arrogant fan-fic writer has decided to put on the page. Don’t get me wrong. I love to read, but I always feel there is a time and a place for everything and a Comic Con is most definitely not the place for the written word. This is what I used to think, anyway. My opinion was changed forever when I went to Wizard World Atlanta and met Drew Blank, author of MEMOIRS OF AN ANTIHERO. Somehow, Mr. Blank has managed to create the most magnificent graphic novel without so much as one doodle. Admittedly, his cover art (done by Anders Backlund, a very talented Swedish comic artist that I will now begin following very closely because I am quite sure he is going to take off as well) is very comic-centric, but once you get past that and realize you are holding a 400 page pictureless novel, it is really up to Drew himself to sell you the book, which he will. I find it hard to believe that any literate comic geek would not buy this book after hearing Drew hype up his own work and his undying love for comic books. It is no wonder he sells out at every convention.

I know you are thinking at this point “what the heck is this book about?” The best way to describe it would be to quote the author himself when he told me at the heart it is a daddy/daughter story. Written as a rather convincing memoir, the author is the main character in the book (the Drew Blank in the book and the author are two very different people, but I can assure you it works). Drew Blank is the typical mid-20’s slacker with no real direction or drive other than the desire to provide for his six year old daughter, Moxie. His life is thrown upside-down when she is diagnosed with leukemia and he can’t afford her treatments on his meager salary as a waiter, especially considering Moxie’s mother drinks and parties away whatever child support he can offer. The author himself will tell you the motivation in the story is rather cliché, and we have certainly seen the set-up before. Sick kid, parent driven to the brink of desperation and doing whatever they need to in order to keep their child alive. While it may seem like a tired formula, it builds up to an amazingly fresh and original tale of capitalism mixed with vigilante justice.

The character of Drew is sincerely flawed. At no point is Drew written to be a superhero or the perfect man. While he does not drink or do drugs, he definitely has a very skewed moral barometer. You get a decent back story of Drew being raised in an orphanage where he is forced to learn how to defend himself and generally take a beating. So when he decides to steal from the bad guys in the fake but well fleshed out Chicago suburb of Cross, he really has no qualifications other than sheer determination and general stupidity at some points. Unlike other stories that have centered on a completely unqualified and inept protagonist, however, Drew is a badass. He might not fight fair but he gets the job done. Make no mistake, this is a brutal book. The action is top notch and never afraid to shy away from the ultraviolent. Drew may be a lovable and sweet character, but when he eventually becomes the vigilante the newspapers dub “The Freak”, his sense of moral superiority to the drug peddlers he is fighting comes out and he is not afraid to end their lives to get the money he is after.

But it isn’t just Drew running out blindly in some superhero suit hoping for the best. At no point do you think of Drew as a lone wolf. His team is really what makes this book so memorable and laugh out loud funny. The team dynamic between he and his friends is spectacular. He has two very relatable nerd buddies (Jim & Phil) that help invent fantastic devices that are definitely over the top and yet still believable. Nothing in this book feels like it could not exist in the real world. Another stand out character is Drew’s best friend, Twisty. After meeting Mr. Blank’s wife at Wizard World it is very obvious that Twisty is based off of her. Oddly enough, however, there are absolutely zero romantic entanglements between the two. None of that “will they, won’t they?” crap. They are just great friends, which was refreshing. Even though there is no underlying romantic theme to the book, however, it is easy to see that this is Mr. Blank’s love letter to his wife. Twisty is every geek’s dream girl. Short, sassy, curvy, obsessed with bad sci-fi movies and not afraid to drop an “F” bomb every chance she gets. It is safe to say Twisty gets the best lines in the book, which brings me to the dialogue.

The dialogue throughout MEMOIRS is nothing short of genius, and I don’t use that word lightly. Mr. Blank is truly schizophrenic to pull off the smooth and natural dialogue that carries the reader through the story. Sometimes the most vivid and gifted wordsmith’s can drop the ball when it comes to simple conversation. At no point does Blank’s dialogue run dry or bore the reader. I can guarantee, after you have read MEMOIRS and shared it with friends, you will find yourselves quoting it incessantly.

If I had any complaint about this book it would be lack of face time for the main villain. MEMOIRS is definitely an origin story, and while I didn’t ever feel like it was dragging, getting The Freak in full fight mode took some time. It wasn’t until halfway through that we got introduced to the primary antagonist, Blueboy. I suppose part of my complaints lies with the fact that I developed an unhealthy crush on Blueboy and I wanted more of him. I would confidently place him amidst some of comicdom’s greatest sociopaths and every page he inhabited gave me goose bumps. It was not that he was underused, but I selfishly just wanted more. This isn’t to say there’s not plenty of bad guy bashing up to that point, but I could have read an entire book simply from Blueboy’s perspective.

Overall, I would have to chalk MEMOIRS OF AN ANTIHERO up as one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I have had in a long time. Rarely have I come across something that could make me crack up laughing on one page and bawling like a baby on the next, all riddled with action scenes that make me wince from the brutality. I would have to say, unequivocally, that any true comic fan would be doing themselves a disservice by not giving MEMOIRS a chance.


Writer: Jason McNamara
Art: Paige Braddock
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

The Bear Who Loved Me…

THE MARTIAN CONFEDERACY, despite sounding like a really rad 90's cover band, reads instead as a fun, self-contained adventure. Jason McNamara and Paige Braddock’s FROM MARS WITH LOVE is actually the second story in THE MARTIAN CONFEDERACY series, which doesn't slow it down in the slightest. A fun, fast read, the book darts about being funny and touching. It's not perfect, but it's a solid read.

Writing: (4/5) FROM MARS WITH LOVE, for a story with such a defined universe, is extremely good about keeping the reader (especially the reader who hasn't read the first one) in the loop. A few mentions and references here and there knock away some of the consistency, and some things could have been explained better, but for the most part, it shows restraint on the crazier options and turns out to be accessible. It's worth the effort, as the book itself is interesting and fun. It's a typical setting, with some nice changes. The roads of Mars are an interesting backdrop, as are the fantastic circus segments. The space port is exactly what you expect a space port to be, but certain clichés have to be met, and here, it's still done interestingly. Where the space port idea succeeds (and kind of shoot itself in the foot) is in the form of the "weird" aspects of this story. While having the captain marry two women is a fun little thing they explore, it's just an odd design to give her two heads, one on each end of her body. It's a good shift at first, but becomes distracting later. Which is sad, because the two wives are interesting, and would have resonated more without that little joke every time we see them.

Boone is a decent (if slightly lacking) lead. He's fast and funny with the verbal jabs, but in ways we've seen before. His unfulfilled love for Lou is also your typical romance in the stars, but it's still well done. The cliché is a cliché for a reason, and that's not to say Boone is a bad character. Maybe a bit underutilized, but good.

Lou proves to be an interesting character as all hell--funny, fast, and unpredictable. She proves the real heart of the story, as it's her devotion to the kids that starts it and closes it. Her shifts and changes are great here and there, and while not outstanding (maybe a little too perfect at times), she's still far and above a lot of what I've read recently.

I fucking love Spinner. Maybe it's that he uses the pretense of a threesome happening to get the cops to leave. Maybe it's because he's snarky and defiant. Maybe it's because he's a fucking talking bear in flannel. Doesn't much matter, he's definitely the shining light of this book. His interlude in the circus is depressing as all hell, while still giving plenty of little moments. His speech to rally a fox is brilliant, and he's definitely the stand out character of the book. Not saying I'd necessarily read a Spinner solo story (my favorite supporting characters usually aren't my favorite main characters), but if there's a follow up to this story, I'd adore seeing more of him.

Storywise, it's a solid space story. While it does have its moments (the real fate of the kids), and while it does have its weaknesses (the father question), not a lot can be said without spoiling. It's a fun read, just not perfect.

Art: (4/5) Mars, and all outside of it, do look rather appealing in this book. Paige Braddock does a fine job with art duties here, and turns out some simply fantastic moments in this story. The designs for the characters are all distinguished and illuminated, never confused for one another. With a lesser artist, it isn't inconceivable to confuse Spinner the bear and Boone, based on the way they’re drawn. Braddock makes every speaking role stand out in some way, and it's appreciated.

The action beats, while some of the lesser moments in the writing, are done well, if understated. We never get a big show-stopping action set piece, probably for the better. The closest we get is when a large robot appears. It's drawn well, but with just not the same gusto as other scenes. Lou's attempt to stop the kidnappers looks great, so that was the level I was holding the book to. Braddock draws a good comic here, and minus a few small problems here and there, draws out a really cool scene.

Best Moment: "I refuse."

Worst Moment: "Dad?"

Overall: (4/5) While THE MARTIAN CONFEDERACY: FROM MARS WITH LOVE doesn't take long to read, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not dense or trying to be the changer of worlds, it's just a fun, solid read, that I could very easily see myself rereading twenty times. Well worth the buy.


Writer / Artist: Bosch Fawstin
Publisher: O’Ink Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

So, I almost died last week. Seriously, my hemoglobin had dropped to the same levels of an anemic three year old girl. However, thanks to a medivac flight and the skilled staff of Jefferson Memorial (greatest place on earth if you’ve sprung an internal leak btw) I escaped death’s icy scythe. So how do I repay God’s favor? Well, by giving publicity to a book that will put me deeper into the crosshairs of Islam than my love of bacon and porn.

INFIDEL needs some work on art and character development, but where it succeeds glowingly is that it makes you think. I’ll fully admit, it wasn’t until I started research for this book (i.e. two searches on Wikipedia) did I fully understand the difference between Islam and Muslims. Like 75% of other Americans, I didn’t think there was a distinction. I’ll also admit I’m still probably fuzzy, like whether or not I even used the correct conjugation of the words above. What my simple mind gleaned from INFIDEL is that the distinction would almost be akin to Christians as Muslims and Mormons as followers of Islam, but that’s probably an over simplification.

Fawstin plays in two worlds in INFIDEL, the real world and the world of comics. The main character outside of the comics is an Albanian Muslim with an intense hatred for the followers of Islam. So intense is this hatred he places himself in the cross-hairs of Islamic hatred by creating the character Pigman who likes to go on killing sprees of the baddest of bad Jihadists. This world was fully fleshed out; where Fawstin needs further clarity though is the world outside of the comic. Aside from knowing that the writer of the comic hates Islam we know little else. Perhaps I just need a better perspective on the extreme hatred these two groups have for one another, but for the most part while the comic world was a physical assault on Islam the world outside was a verbal assault. Without a stake in the game it comes across as more of a rant and less of a story.

As a fellow comic creator I applaud Fawstin’s courage, I would never have attempted at drawing my own book. Fawstin is better than I am at creating art, but there aren’t going to be any awards thrown at his feet for these renderings. However, there are a ton of books out there that have achieved commercial success with less than stellar art work.

From the name of his company to the themes within INFIDEL, Fawstin is making a statement. Personally, I’m the type that likes to ease religious relations, but I also know that there are some…mainly Jihadists, where there probably never will be a middle-ground or a “live and let live” mentality. Fawstin is trying to incite something and I believe if this book ever makes into some cave in Afghanistan he needs to take whatever revenue he makes from this title and hire bodyguards toute suite.


Writer: Dan Littlefield, John Doudican
Artists: David C. Nguyen, Alith Romanillos
Scabbards & Gods
Reviewer: Lyzard

I’ve read a few web comics here and there, but I would not say it is a sub-genre that I am a fan of. It is the reason why I do not own a Nook or a Kindle. I like the feel and experience of a book, whether a novel or comic, in my hands. But print is a dying art, a fact that we must accept. Many of the major publishers have moved online, such as Marvel and Archie Publications, catching on to the wave that independent web writers and artists have been riding for years.

Though this is the direction the business is heading, there are some negatives to it. Ignoring the monetary problems for either side, there are essential differences between reading a comic online or in hand. I haven’t had a bad experience per se reading online until I came to SCABBARDS & GODS. This web comic truly highlighted the differences between reading virtually and perusing a comic without the aid of a computer/phone/whatever other electronic devices are used now.

Disregarding the content in any shape or form, the method of reading SCABBARDS & GODS was an adjustment for me. When I do read web comics, such as PHD and PENNY ARCADE, the entire “issue” is usually a strip or a page. Most of SCABBARDS & GODS is a page, though long enough that I have to scroll down, sometimes missing info that is in the first panel but at the bottom left. Others are multiple pages, causing me to scroll sideways as well. Though I knew how to follow the panels, it is difficult to catch all the information given in a first pass when read online, compared to being able to have a hard copy open wide. But as I mentioned, most of SCABBARDS & GODS is merely a page for a page. So once you get past the awkward page 2-3, the comic becomes a much simpler read.

Enough about the difference in reading experience, what about the difference in quality? Don’t be mistaken by the website and cover of the first issue, the comic is not in color. However, this allows for the artists to create more violent and gory action scenes without grossing out those of us with weak stomachs. Two characters, Corbin Miller and Sang, are sometimes indistinguishable when both are in the same panel, but upon multiple reads I was able to tell them apart. As for the style, on the website the creators say, “The comic… is influenced by both American and Japanese art.” Think AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (the TV show, not the movie).

The rundown of the comic given by the creators is “Tte series follows the story of a man named Corbin and the journey he takes with his “Fallen Corps,” a mercenary group led by ex-military in a world very different from our own…”. Now, I knew Corbin was our main character as he was the only one given a last name out of our trio of mercenaries. In the first issue, Corbin and the other two mercs try to settle down for the night. But the lodging they come to is filled with Shankill Butchers, a clear enough name.

Storytelling wise, the comic starts strong. The issue starts off right after the trio has killed a man and they waste no time in going off on their next adventure. But the story slowly falls apart as it continues on. When our “heroes” have to face off against the Butchers, I have yet to get to know them and therefore do not care about them. I understand that web readers are probably more fickle and have shorter attention spans than non-internet readers, but what will keep me coming back is the character development not the action.

Be sure to check out other aspect of the website, especially the Behind the Scenes tab and the Process page within it. What SCABBARDS & GODS does is give insight into how anyone can make a comic. This is a group of college and slightly older aged young men trying to make their dreams come true. Credit should be given to them for completing the first issue of such an endeavor where many more have failed or given up halfway.

Is SCABBARDS & GODS up to the quality of a mainstream comic? No, but that does not mean you shouldn’t give it a chance. What Dan, John, David, and Aleth show is room for potential growth. They are young enough to be moldable, able to still change their ways to create a stronger comic. This is their first shot at creating a comic, so I don’t expect them to hit a grand slam their first time at the plate.

Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).

Ambush Bug here with a couple of indie treats to tantalize your indie jones. This time around I’ve got some indie horrors for you to dig into. I’m trying to catch up on these books so expect more where these came from in the coming weeks. Enjoy!

Bluewater Comics

Though it took a while to get to issue #2 it was definitely worth the wait to see Daniel Crosier’s amazing artwork again in a comic. This is the artist who uses wood burning tools to make his pages and each page rings of authenticity and antiquity. Crosier does a fantastic job of conveying pure terror of a group of folks trapped in a mine with Lovecraftian horrors all around. Inked by Peter Palmiotti, this issue is a visual feast, each panel full of detail and surreal gorgeousness. Though I wouldn’t want to hurry Daniel in his meticulous wood burning process, I can’t wait to see how this claustrophobic story ends up.


This flip book which features the story in both English and in Spanish is a powerful tale of familial bonds and borders set to the backdrop of the US/Mexican border and encapsulated in a horrific story of lycanthropy. A small child is infected with the werewolf curse and a family must decide what to do while fleeing Mexican thugs and US border patrols. This is a tense and horrific drama which hits all of the right notes. The creative team here knows their werewolf stories and fills this one with enough originality and heft to make it stand out among the masses. Can’t wait to see how this one finishes up in the next issue.


Terrance Zdunich’s tale of mundane horror continues as what would be a regular family counseling group, but with the Pryzkind family as the focus, even something as banal as that is seen through a warped mirror. The horrors in this book come from the bizarre and terrifying scenes we’ve seen prior to this issue and pay off marvelously in a way that creeps under your skin and oozes through the cracks of the periphery. Something dark is on the horizon of this David Lynch like slow burner. Now that we’ve reached the halfway point to this maxi-series, I’m ready for everything Zdunich has set up to pay off. A fantastic horror series.

Avatar Press

I need to track down more of Mike Wolfer’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD comics from Avatar. I keep reminding myself to check out the book, but my store keeps selling out of it. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the 2011 Annual that Wolfer wrote and drew and was utterly impressed at how well the story was told and how awesome it looked. Wolfer has a fantastic art style, with his stylistic faces and attention to gory detail when it comes to the zombies. Set in New Orleans, Wolfer integrated the Romero zombies in with the zombies of voodoo myth well in this typical story of a group of survivors holed up in a mansion in the middle of a swamp. In true NOTLD fashion, coop up a group of folks in an enclosed place long enough and it’s inevitable sparks will fly. Wolfer adds enough layers of race, social commentary, and pure horror to seal the deal that he is writing a bonafide Romero book that honors the film while shifting the locale to show how the dead are rising in other parts of the world. After reading this issue, I am going to be making sure Avatar’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is on my pull list from now on.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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