Bass Reeves #1 Comic Book Review

Bass Reeves #1 Comic Book Review

Published by Allegiance Arts and Entertainment

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Cover Price $4.98 US

Content Rating: T / Teen

“No God West of Fort Smith” by Kevin Grevioux (writer), David Williams (artist), Kelsey Shannon (colorist), Eric Weathers (Letterer), Hernan Octavio (color flatter). Edited by Patrick Stiles. Design and Layout by Chris Kindrick. Cover by David Williams will Kelsey Shannon.

The first two things that jumped out at me about this comic book are:

(1.) It is exclusive to Wal-Mart and;

(2.) It cost $4.98!

So lets just hurry up and get them out of the way.

When I was a kid you could buy single issues of comic books at grocery and drug stores. Some had spinner racks and others had them on shelves with magazines. You knew that they weren’t always going to be in the best condition because other people had already flipped through them, and the people that stocked the shelves weren’t exactly concerned with whether they spines were bent or covers got a little damage. However, as a young kid just wanting to devour the adventures of super heroes I wasn’t concerned about the collect-ability of the comic book and I was only paying $1.25 for the book anyway.

Currently Wal-Mart is selling comic books for DC and Marvel Comics. Marvel sells packages of reprinted comics and I believe they are $9.99/each and DC sells 100 page Giants which feature one new story, and then three other reprints. They sell for $4.99. It’s worth noting that the “new” story in the Giants will not be new going forward as DC started releasing those stores as “digital firsts” during the Covid-19 crisis… The DC and Marvel books are with the collectible items up by the registers. The Allegiance books are back with the books and magazines in their own display stand.

First things I noticed in the copy of Bass Reeves #1 that I got… Wal-Mart stuck a big price sticker right on the cover. I imagine that will be hard to peel off without damaging the book. I bought it to read and review, not collect, so I don’t think I’ll bother peeling it off… On the back cover… when I got the comic home and flipped it over… I found the remains of a dead bug that had been squished on the book. I didn’t spend time investigating the book before I took it off the shelf. Whenever there are multiple copies of a comic book on the shelf, I always pull the second copy because I know the first one has a higher chance of being flipped through by someone else… It’s just something that I have always done.

Earlier in the month I reviewed Hawkman #23 that book cost $3.99 which is the average cost of a comic book. It had 20 pages of story. Bass Reeves cost $4.98 and has 27 pages (25 pages of story and a 2 page spread dedicated to the man, Bass Reeves, whose life influenced the fictional contents of the book) and is printed on a much heavier weight of paper and I believe that the book benefits immensely from it as they are no spine bends or kinked or crinkled pages; however, spine bends or other damage only matter if you are collecting. With a big sticker on the cover (or in my specific case, bug guts) there is no collect-ability.

This book begins with a U.S. Marshall pinned down by gunfire against a stage couch in Indian Territory in 1875. By the bottom of the page the Marshall is shot dead. Next, we see Judge Parker and the town’s Reverend reporting the news of the Marshall’s death to his pregnant widow. The frustrated Judge states he “won’t lose another lawman” to which the Reverend reminds him that it’s God’s call when people die and not his. The judge resolves that it’s time for a “new kind of lawman”.

Next, we cut to the Louisiana Bayou where some bootleggers are sitting around the fire discussing their previous take and then they start to tell the legend of Bass Reeves or “Old Bass” as he’s called to the newest man in their crew. The picture painted of Bass is truly imposing. And then Bass is on them singing a hymn “light of the world, he beckons to me… Holy Spirit’s calling I’m down on my knees”. The startled bootleggers turn around and face him in surprise as Bass quotes Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor gathering his wheat into the barn, and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Bass then asks “will you be gathered like wheat? Or burn like chaff?”

A bootlegger goes for his gun and Bass shoots him. Bass turns to the other bootleggers and says “I got his answer… what about yours?”. The other men surrender.

Next we are in the Fort Smith Courthouse and Judge Parker is trying to precede over a case of a young man accused of bootlegging. The young man doesn’t speak English and no one can communicate with him. In his language the young man is pleading innocence. Bass steps in and offers his assistance, communicates with the young man, and it’s revealed the young man is a Mexican imposter and has been bootlegging for years. Later, Judge Parker after hearing the legend of Bass Reeves being “the fastest gun in three states” and that Bass is a Christian man, tries to recruit Bass to be the new Marshall, because they need an honest man to police the territory. Bass agrees to think on it.

I’m not going to give you the whole story… you need to read it for yourself but as you can guess since the book is about Bass Reeves being a U.S. Marshall he ends up taking the job as a U.S. Marshall. My understanding is that the books are going to be published bi-monthly and there will be six issues in each season that will tell one complete story.

So here are the three things that I want to point out:

First, The story is great and even though I was squirming at the $4.98 cover price. I’m feeling compelled to buy the next five issues at that $4.98 to get the whole story. I found it really engaging. It’s not often that you get a Western story in comic books, and if you do, it typically has a lot of supernatural elements which I do not particularly care for.

Second, The art in this book fits the story very well and it balances the bright scenes in the mid west town of the sun beating down very well with the scenes at night in the pitch black and the shadows cast from the fires that various characters are around. If there was any complaint that I had about the artwork is that the way Bass’s handlebar mustache and nose are drawn in the some of the pictures makes his face appear cartoon-y which contrasts from the depictions of the other characters.

Finally, Bass is a professing Christian man in a western town with a heavy influence of Christianity. In this book we see scripture being quoted, a Bible, a family praying together before eating dinner, and God being thanked for blessing a man with a good harvest for the year. To me this is a big deal. It seems like media companies today are intent on pushing the liberal agenda of normalizing abnormal sexual identity and orientation politics on audiences (especially young kids) and guilting them if they don’t immediately praise the relationship or identity. Faith and religion, especially Christianity, is often mocked and ridiculed in mainstream entertainment. Here, Grevioux presents it as being a part of the story and a core part of the character and presents Christianity fairly. To me, that was truly appreciated.

Overall, this book, despite Wal-Mart’s issues of selling it (sticker on cover and the bug guts) and the initial sticker shock, still made for a good read and a nice break from the condescending and virtue signaling crap that most of the other publishers are publishing. There are good comic books out there still. You just need to find them.

Review Rating: 4/5

Reopening the Economy

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Central New York has started phase one of a four phase reopening strategy. Each phase will last approximately two weeks and depending on the how the phase goes will determine whether we can proceed to the next phase or not. Hopefully we can proceed through these phases and people can stay safe and healthy.

It’s frustrating that most churches are still closed. I will say that I am grateful that our church has been able to adapt and provide Sunday Services, bible studies, and prayer meetings online, but it will still be nice to meet in person and worship God together.

10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.

2 Corinthians 8:10-15

 

Hawkman #23 Comic Book Review

Hawkman 23 Regular Cover
Standard Cover

Hawkman #23 Comic Book Review

Published by DC Comics

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Cover Price $3.99 US

Content Rating: Recommended for ages 13+

Hawkman 23 Variant Cover
Variant Cover

Miasma of Fear” by Robert Venditti (writer), Marcio Takara and Fernando Pasarin (pencils), Marcio Takara and Oclair Albert (inks), Jeremy Cox (colorist), and Rob Leigh (Letterer). Regular cover by Mikel Janin and Variant cover by Gerardo Zaffino.

Hawkman created by Gardner Fox.

Comic books came to an abrupt stop when the CoronaVirus forced state governors to issue shelter-in-place orders which closed local comic book retailers, printers, and the sole distributor of comic books, a company called Diamond. Since comic books were supplied to local comic book stores through a single distributor, they had a single source of failure. With comic book stores closed they could not take delivery of new comics books (or pay for them either) so Diamond could not ship them and with printers forced to close, new comics from publishers could not be shipped to Diamond. DC Comics sought out two new distributors to distribute books to comic book stores that were able to stay open and distribute through online ordering or curb side pickup. My local comic book store, Comixzone (www.comixzone.com) offers both.

Hawkman came back into the DC Universe with the events of Dark Knights Metal and has been plugging along in his self-titled comic book since then. I have picked up issues here and there and enjoyed the issues that I have read, but because of too many books already on my pull list I was hesitant to addmore, so I never added Hawkman. The current run on Hawkman has focused on his several past lives. Quite frankly, Hawkman wasn’t even on my radar until issue #8 where one of his past lives was revealed to have been lived on Krypton. Hawkman #23 was on my radar because of the solicitation and the cover art. It made me think of the the Batman Elseworlds book “Gotham by Gaslight” where Batman fights Jack the Ripper.

Now issue #23 was written, drawn, printed, and solicited prior to our current pandemic so the creators had no idea how timely the content of this issue could be. In this issue, Hawkman relives one of his previous lives in Seville, Spain in 1650 A.D. which places the event during The Great Plaque of Seville that lasted from 1647 to 1652. Nearly 5% of the population of Spain’s ten million people were thought to be lost because of it. A truly sobering statistic.

In this issue Carter Hall, is living his past life as Dr. Carlo Salon. He is going around the town of Seville looking to treat those who are infected with the plague. With a tally sheet, and a particularly haunting two page spread, Carlo goes door to door and finds not patients, but corpses because they have already died from the plaque. The plaque is quick and brutal.

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Carlo is attacked by Don Alvaro, the husband of one patient because he knows that Carlo is not getting sick. Alvaro believes that Carlo must have a treatment for the disease but is not sharing it. Alvaro intends to take it by force. Alvaro is quickly brought to the ground by Carlo. After offering his condolences, Carlo leaves.

Later in the book, Carlo is attacked by a mob of people led by Alvaro, who calls him a demon. The mob subdues Carlo and intend to burn him at the stake when Hawkwoman intervenes. In this past life she goes by the name, Nayara.

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Nayara reminds Alvaro of his humanity and they mob disperses. Together Carlo and Nayara agree to travel together and head off into the sunset. Turning the page we are back in our current time following the events of the previous issue. Shayera Hol, Hawkwoman, who has spent the previous story arc dealing with the infection of a dangerous past life of Hawkman, called the Sky Tyrant, is ready to deliver a fatal blow until she realizes that the infection is gone and Carter is back. Carter and Shayera, lovers in several reincarnations through several lifetimes are reunited again. Good things because it’s time to gear up and fight the Lord Beyond the Void in their next adventure.

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I really enjoyed this issue. Robert Venditti, is very quickly becoming a favorite writer of mine as he is writing these excellent stories in Hawkman and also the new content in the Superman 100 Page Giant books. The book moves along the overall narrative of the series but also tells a fully contained and engaging story of Carter’s past life as Dr. Carlo Salon. The four pages told in the current time are illustrated by Pasarin, and his always engaging tight line work is always on display. A more prominent artist that I think Pasarin’s artwork compares to is Clay Mann, both with their great affinity for drawing figures.

The remainder of the issue is drawn my Takara. His artwork seems to feature darker lines than Pasarin’s and lots of dark black shading, which given the time period and the atmosphere of the suppressing gloom of the plague and the death that it brings, Takara’s art is perfect for this part of the story.

If I have any complaints about this issue it is that there are Spanish words used through out the issue. I understand the story takes place in Spain, but either is should all be English words, or be identified that the words are all translated from Spanish. I had my laptop open while I read the comic so I just typed the words into Google Translate for the ones I did not already know.

Also, I do not know where DC got the copies of these issue to ship to comic stores given that they had already shipped their inventory to Diamond and I don’t believe any printers were able to print anymore. The masthead does not identify the book as a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd printing… I did notice that on the very edge of page 5, which is opposite of the title page that it appears to have the artist’s writing Hawkman #23 in the upper left hand corner… Were these copies misprints that were meant to be pulped? I don’t know. It does not affect the readability of the story, it was just something I noticed.

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Overall, Hawkman #23 is a solid issue with a good story and solid artwork. To me, a comic book is good when after I read it the first time I can see myself reading it again sometime in the future which this one does.

Review Rating: 4/5.

Good Friends

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While reading my Bible today I came across 2 Corinthians 7:5-7 and it really struck a chord with me.

…Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.

6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.

2 Corinthians 7:5-7 NKJV

When I read this it reminded me of the value of good Christian friends that are praying for you, that fellowship with you, and that lift you up in times of struggle. When I’ve spoken at Men’s Breakfasts or while leading classes, I’ve mentioned discouragement in my personal spiritual life that typically manifests itself in a stale prayer life and abandoning the daily habit of prayer, and how absolutely important it is to me to know that I have friends praying for me when I cannot seem to do it myself. It’s amazing how God knows exactly what to speak to us and when. Thank God for his word and his loving care for us. We truly are blessed to have a God that loves and cares us so deeply.

Alive Wesleyan Church Service – 05/10/2020

“Under His Wings” featuring a guest appearance by a duck.

Things I’m Reading and Brief Thoughts

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Things I’ve Been Reading

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The Screwtape Letters

I’ve been teaching a class through Zoom on The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters is a series of Letters written by Screwtape, a demonic tempter, to Wormwood, his subordinate, who is currently tempting a young man who becomes a Christian. C. S. Lewis is a Christian apologist, and the value of this book is that is shows you the techniques in a way a human can be tempted and the ways that God counters. Obviously, the story is fictional, but it gives you a good way to think about the way you think about and confront sin and temptation. Some weeks the class is easier to teach than other but thankfully I have a very good class and we always get a good discussion. With teaching, I never have considered myself a teacher, but more of a discussion leader.

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Superman “Up in the Sky”

I’ve also started reading Superman “Up in the Sky” by Tom King and Andy Kubert. I don’t have any thoughts on it yet as I’ve only read the first two parts of the twelve part story. We’ll see.

Here are some books I picked up to support my local comic book store but haven’t read yet.

michaelangelo_christmas_specialLeatherhead_(Tales_issue)Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6 is the 1st appearance of Leatherhead!

Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz did a “virtual panel” on the upcoming comic book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Last Ronin. This is a book that I am very excited about.

Growing your Faith in a Crisis

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The past two weeks for me were tough.

I’ve felt down and unmotivated. I know that a lot of people are in the same boat, but it hit me pretty hard this past week. It’s a combination of several things: being cooped up at home because of the pandemic, facing the reality that a temporary pay cut at work might be much longer than originally anticipated, and someone I love that I’ve been praying for their walk with Christ and a revelation that they are moving in the opposite direction very strongly and quickly…

The comic above doesn’t have a joke. It’s not meant to be funny. It does mean a lot to me though.

This past Saturday, my son and I went to our church to walk the prayer trail around the church. The church has had the prayer trail for several years but I have never walked it. When we got to the church, we parked the car and started around the path. The start of the path has a steeple.

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Around the prayer trail there are several benches and to my surprise several signs with scripture upon them. My son and I walked around the trail and talked about what makes us happy about God, my son gleefully shared his vast knowledge of dinosaurs with me, and me read the scripture on the sings aloud together.

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Feeling moved to pray again for the person I love who seems to be moving away from Christ, I stopped and prayed with my face turned upwards and pleaded with the Lord… What do I do? I don’t know what to do? I can’t do this!

I didn’t know there were other signs or what was painted on them and we continued to walk on and we came upon this sign:

I knew immediately that God was speaking to me. I saw this scripture and I knew that God was putting a calmness in my heart. I was so blessed that God moved this way and answered my prayer as quickly as he did. It’s hard watching people you love move away from God, but we don’t know their walk or their path and we just need to trust God and no lean on our own understanding but allow God to act his will in his own time.

Alive Wesleyan Church Service for April 26th, 2020:

Claude-a-saurus Wrecks “Bash it like Bendis”

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This week of “quarantine” was hard for me.

The governor of New York extended New York Pause by another two weeks until the middle of May, so we are looking at another month of “quarantine”. The governor is now requiring that we wear face masks when we are in areas where social distancing cannot be achieved. This was followed up by our county giving essential stores the authority to turn away any customer that shows up without a face covering. My feelings are divided when I think about the public health interest versus personal freedoms, and I haven’t really resolved them yet.

Most of this week I wasn’t very motivated.

I did not make any new Mr. Arbuckle comics but I did make the decision that I am only making four more of them and then putting that to rest.

I’ve spent alot of time thinking about Claude-a-saurus Wrecks and trying to decide what it’s future holds. One of my issues with C-Wrecks is that because I make it in Adobe Illustrator the artwork has become somewhat stagnant. I use the same artwork over and over again and it has become stale to me. When the comic strip was initially conceived I knew that the artwork was never going to blow anyone away, so the writing would have to be good. I am unsure if I have accomplished that.

I’ve been looking at other comic strips and I’ve been thinking about coming up with something that has a more of simplified art style and hand drawing and inking and doing less of the comic digitally. I’m leaning more towards black and white but perhaps I’ll color them too. I’m not sure. Today’s strip was a first shot at that.

This was the original artwork that I made today’s comic from. I sort of like the hand drawn artwork better than the computer art.

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Dave Pilkey, the creator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man has been doing drawing tutorials on social media for the Library of Congress. I started the sketch of this cat below after watching his video. I really like the face with the big smile and the teeth.
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I really want to self publish a collection of comic strips and I’ve been think more about that recently. I really need to figure out how I am going to accomplish that. I would like to publish them basically as a comic book, but my concern is that they aren’t all black and white. Does the comic have to be printed in color? If so, how much will that cost? If I convert all the comics to gray scale, how well will that reprint? Who knows, there are lots of questions still.

Me wearing the superhero mask that my mother-in-law made me to wear in public. It has a pouch that HEPA filter can be put in. My biggest regret was shaving my beard off in anticipation of having to wear a mask.

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” Romans 12:12.