i-Rix Tries to Draw: X-23

Aaaaand we're back with the art blog that is barely art OR blog!  I've just gotten back to school which... really doesn't have anything to do with why I haven't been drawing lately, but nevertheless, I've found some time in my busty schedule of procrastination to sketch one of my favorite Marvel characters, X-23. 
  

Not much to say about it.  I guess the only things worth mentioning are the shadow silhouette meant to look like Wolverine, and me giving Laura a bit more colorful belt.  Other than that, I guess I'm just happy with how it turned out. 
 
Here it is on Deviantart. 
 
Drawing was done with pencil, then inked with pen and colored with markers.  Maybe not my best, and probably could have taken a bit more time on it, but whatevs.  As usual, comments and critiques are welcome.  Enjoy!
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i-Rix Tries to Draw: Harley Quinn (costume redesign)

Striking whilst the inspiration iron is hot, I've decided to go ahead with another costume redesign.  Now, a lot of the current redesigns coming out of the DC Comics reboot have had some mixed reception (to say the least), but one in-particular seemed to really get the ire of the fans.  That is Harley Quinn's new redesign.  It personally doesn't bother me, but I also figured I couldn't screw up any worse.  So, I gave it a shot and this is what I came up with. 
 

Obviously the first major change was to cover Harley up.  After that, I tried to take the goth-ish feel of the new design in the reboot, and tried to build on it.  Straps, corsets, frilly sleeves and collars, and the tiny top hat (naturally).  I also threw a lot of green in with Harley's traditional black and red to allude more to her relationship with the Joker.  After all, she loves her puddin' so much, why wouldn't she want to dress a little more like him? 
 
For a better view, check it out on DeviantArt HERE 
 
This illustration was done with pencil, pen, colored pencil, and marker (for those wondering). 
As always, comments and critiques are welcome and encouraged.  Enjoy!
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i-Rix Tries to Draw: Power Girl (costume redesign)

"September" rapidly approaches and, with it, the DC Comics reboot.  Before that time, though, and inspired by Comic Vine's recent sit down with Judd Winick, I decided to take a crack at a Power Girl re-design.  Yeah, technically it looks like she doesn't exist in the reboot, but here's how a PG costume would pan out in the (in)capable hands of ImperiousRix. 

Karen definitely gets a lot of flack (and some rather unsavory attention) for her costume, so I tried to cover her up a bit more and give her a costume that's actually... well, a costume.  I obviously had to keep the slit in the middle, and I kept her "shoulder-cape" (?), but changed her main colors from gold, white, and red to gold, white, and light blue.  In the end, it was maybe not the best decision, but whatever.  I also gave her a shorter haircut and (what I consider) a sexy mole near her chin. 

For a better view, check out my DeviantArt account HERE.  

And for those interested, this drawing was done in pencil, pen, colored pencils, and pastel chalks. 
Enjoy, and feel free to comment and critique!
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i-Rix Tries to Draw: The Flash (costume redesign)

After a long hiatus (one I'm sure EVERYONE noticed), the most inconsistent "art" blog on Comic Vine returns with something a little different.  Here, in the spirit of the DC Comics reboot, I decide to take a crack at re-designing the costume of one of my favorite comic book characters of all time.  Here's The Flash.

Although this is technically Barry Allen, I obviously took inspiration from other Flashes (primarily Jay Garrick).  I also threw a bunch of white into the typical Flash "speed-suit", and gave Barry some proper footwear.  I always felt like it was weird that the Flash whose power revolves around RUNNING was always running in boots.  Just seemed weird to me.
For a better view, check out my Deviantart account HERE!
Anyway, for those interested, I sketched this deal out in pencil, followed by pen, then colored it with colored pencils and crayon.  Yes.  Crayon.
Enjoy, Comic Viners, and feel free to comment and critique!
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DC's Reboot to My Head...

  

The story that's been on everyone's minds, lips, and fingertips over the last couple of days in the world of comics has been... 
WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN WITH THIS WHOLE SPIDER ISLAND THING?!?! 
No, in actuality it's been the DC Universe reboot that's going down later this year.  I must admit, my first reaction to this was a resounding no.  Nope.  No sir, I don't like it. 
 
I'm sorry, but as a fan of comic books, my knee-jerk reaction isn't just "NO" but "WHY?"  I understand that over decades upon decades, a comic universe can pick up more than its fair share of baggage.  It can be tough, yes, for new readers to break into the medium, but we do exist in the 21st century.  Not only are resources for comic book readers more readily available than ever (like this lovely site, ComicVine.com), but there are so many titles for so many people that I really don't think that's the problem with decreased comic sales.  Comic book sage, Lewis "Linkara" Lovehaug perhaps said it best in the opening to his Ultimatum #5 review when discussing continuity... 
 
"In the end, this generation is actually the luckiest.  They have the internet, they have wikipedia, and they have tons and tons of books and analysis capable of explaining storylines, who people are, and their relationships to one another.  This issue is not a REAL problem anymore.  Just tell good stories and the rest will attend to itself." 
 
Does that mean I don't see the potential, or indeed the need to reboot an entire comic universe?  Of course I do!  In fact when the news broke and I told my brother about it, I basically came up with this hypothesis.  "They killed Bruce... then made Dick Batman... but then Bruce came back... and now they're both Batman.  Yeah.  After that I'd probably just say 'Fuck it, let's start over'".   
 
It is a chance for a new beginning.  It is a chance to reconstruct an entire universe and tell stories from the start in a way that a new generation can appreciate.  My problem is that... isn't that what comics writers should be doing now?  I feel that, in recent years, DC HAS been, with things like Green Lantern: Secret Origin and the like, writing a cohesive universe that a new generation can read and appreciate.  Again, Linkara sums up things in a way that even I can appreciate (keep in mind, he said this stuff BEFORE DC announced the big reboot)... 
 
"If comic companies really feel they need to reboot everything, at least have all your pieces together and know exactly what has happened to characters or not.  Don't be lazy.  Think of it as a challenge and that you are the architect of an entire new universe.  Be creators.  Not destroyers." 
 
And that's what, I think most concerns me in the end.  If DC really wants to do this because they feel as if it's time to rewrite the entirety of their world, that they want to construct the universe again and make a better world for us comic readers and the new generation weened onto comics by movies and video games to dig into, then I'm excited.  If they're doing this in an attempt to bring in new readers, because they think this is the one and only way they're going get more copies sold (IE for the MONIES), then I'm more than a little upset. 
 
Only time will tell.  As for me... I just had to get this off my chest.
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My First Free Comic Book Day Experience...

Yep, although I've been a sporadic comic book reader for years now, this is my first Free Comic Book Day I've attended.  I couldn't tell ya why I haven't before.  I suppose I just forget each year, but this year would be different!  This morning, at approximately 11 AM, me and my little bro embarked to our "local" comic shoppe for what would be both our first FCBD.
I quipped as we drove along that if even five other people showed up to our shop that day, the place would be packed.  That's because our shop, Comic Madness, although AWESOME both in service and selection, is a tiny tiny place.  Sure enough, when we showed up.  There were a little more than five people.  In fact, the damn place was packed with a line coming out the door.  Besides the allure of free comics, this was also likely due to the fact that our shop had Joe Benitez and Peter Steigerwald coming in for a signing that day.

 Packed House.  My little bro at the far right.
It honestly was a neat thing to see, so many people excited about comics.  We eventually DID make it into the store, and followed the snaking line around the familiar stacks and shelves that we see each week, only now buffeted by people to the left and right.

 So many people.  So many comics.  So much awesome.
Finally, after about a half hour, we made it up to the free comics.  I actually felt like a little kid as I looked at all the choices available to pick up, especially knowing that the price would be free.  My little brother took a second making his choices.  I however, agonized over the whole thing, feeling simultaneously excited, indecisive, and guilty.  Excited for free comics.  Indecisive because it's my nature.  Guilty because there were tons of people behind me waiting to make the same difficult decision.  In the end, I picked up Spider-Man (Duh), Green Lantern (Double Duh), Worlds of Aspen, Mouse Guard, and Baltimore.  All solid choices, I think.  I also got some free Green Lantern "Heroclix" miniature, which now stands next to my Captain Boomerang and Flash mini figures on my shelf.
 They are just giving the amazing away.  TAKE IT!
But of course, it's bad etiquette to pick up free comics and not actually buy anything!  (Note; I don't actually know if it is bad etiquette or not to not purchase anything on Free Comic Book Day, I'm making that shit up) So, since the boys had arrived after making the drive down here, and because I'd been putting off picking up the frankly amazing-looking, Lady Mechanika series up to that point I decided to pick up reprints of Lady Mechanika 0 and 1.  Of course, Mr. Benitez and Mr. Steigerwald were more than happy to sign them (my awkwardly hearty "Thank you guys so much!" being reciprocated with an equally hearty, "No thank YOU!" from Steigerwald).  Can't wait to give these two a read.
 Genuinely geeking out...
All in all, you can probably tell I had a pretty bitchin' Free Comic Book Day.  Heck, I saw Thor later that day, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience in and of itself (possible review incoming?).  I look forward to the first Saturday in May of next year, and might even drag along a few more people to get a slice of the awesome.  I think it's something as many people as possible need to take part in.
Hope you dudes and dudettes had similarly awesome experiences.  Shoot, tell me about it.

Until next time, I'm out!
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"Honor or Dishonor": 5 Ronin Review (possible spoilers)


      Or, "4 Ronin and a Pissed off Lady"
As one who actually relishes continuity in comics, it takes a lot for me to buy into the "What If?" story.  I usually find myself wondering (likely ignorantly) whether it's worth investing in characters and universes that I'll likely never see again.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Superman: Red Son, but at the end of the day, I do walk away from that story a little disconnected knowing that it's an isolated corner of the DC Universe that, should it ever arise again, won't do so in a capacity that I'd find satisfactory.

So it was with that kind of prejudice that I jumped into Marvel's 5 Ronin mini-series.  I've always been fascinated by tales of feudal Japan and the samurai and daimyo that formed its backbone, and throwing in characters modeled after some of Marvel's most popular heroes turns that fascination into genuine intrigue.

After walking the path of the 5 Ronin, what are my thoughts on the series as a whole?  Well, let's take a look at the big picture and see if we can judge these 5 issues together, linking the common themes as well as distinguishing the strengths and weaknesses of each installment.

PLOT

As one might expect, 5 Ronin takes place in feudal Japan at the coming of the modernization.  Gunpowder and corrupt daimyo have transformed the once "simple" samurai culture and lifestyle into something far less romantic.  In this new age, 5 unfortunate souls find themselves without purpose.  Among them, a "samurai who cannot die", a ronin turned monk with a monster inside, a man with nothing to lose who becomes death incarnate, a geisha with a mysterious past, and a drunkard who does not even remember who he is.  They all share one thing in common, however, as each can trace their misfortune to the corruption of their daimyo, and each sets out on a journey to kill him.

STRENGTHS

What is perhaps the thing that surprised me most about 5 Ronin as a whole is just how much it plays itself as a straight samurai fantasy.  Hell, without the name of each character the ronin are based off of adorning the front covers and some aesthetic similarities, these could be wholly distinct characters (and they pretty much are anyway).  Peter Milligan pens the tales, which each can be considered somewhat self-contained.  The way Milligan does this is extremely clever, as he weaves each character's history throughout the tale as it happens in real-time.  This helps to drive each issue forward.  Coupled with Milligan's dialog, which comes off as authentic without seeming stereotypical for a Japanese period peace, it's just really cool to see the individual myths unfold.  

There is also a central narrative going on (as should be expected with a mini-series), and the themes that permeate it are actually really intriguing.  It basically deals with individuals seeking the same ends independently from one another, and enabled by a single force.  The comic often deals with the idea of the "old ways" being lost in favor of a the "modern", but often leaves it ambiguous as to which is the better path.  This ambiguity is also central to a few of the ronin's quests.

Speaking of which, out of the 5 tales, the Wolverine and Punisher-inspired are the strongest.  While the others have their strengths, both these tales really capture the ruthless and extremely ceremonial culture of the samurai best.  They also feature some of the best art of the series (Laurence Campbell and Tomm Coker, respectively), showing a dark and gritty style almost reminiscent of film noir.  As I'd consider the samurai genre and noir being strangely similar, the look just works.  The covers by David Aja and others are also fairly amazing.

WEAKNESSES

With 5 distinct ronin in 5 distinct issues, the cannot all be winners.  The tale that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is the Hulk story.  I was pretty excited to see how Milligan would interpret the character in a samurai drama, as he's pretty far from fitting into the genre, but unfortunately I'm not sure his story works.  It's a situation of not getting enough time for the character to be fleshed out, and his particular tale and his motivations for also wishing the daimyo dead seems a tad weak.  This is also the case with Psylocke and Deadpool, but unlike those characters where the reasoning is either purposely ambiguous or inconsequential, I feel like the Hulk story had untapped potential that wasn't reached.

In fact, that's probably a good analogy for the entirety of the series.  For better or worse, this was a 5 issue mini-series that used each issue to introduce and flesh out a single character.  Some characters appeared in multiple stories, and one even catalyzed the story, but in the end, it felt like this was a great introduction to a memorable tale that frankly never happens.  The ending is bound to be a tad disappointing to most people.  I feel like this was intentionally done by Milligan to perpetuate the feeling of pessimism present throughout most of the stories, but the lack of a big pay-off is sure to piss some people off.

FINAL VERDICT 

Wolverine: 5 stars.  A great stand alone tale that plays off the character's inspiration well.  Sets up the basic idea of the story, but is extremely satisfying by itself.  Fantastic artwork.
Hulk: 3 stars.  Decent concept, but not fleshed out enough for it to work.  The character comes off as the weakest in the series.  Artwork is good.
Punisher: 5 stars.  Perhaps the best of the stand-alone stories.  Classic tale of vengeance with decent twists on the formula.  Favorite artwork of the series.
Psylocke: 4 stars.  Great characterization, but a tad lacking.  Interactions with the Wolverine character both adds to and subtracts from the character's tale.  Artwork is passable.
Deadpool: 2 stars.  Ends the series on a bit of a low note.  The character himself is interesting, but lacks depth (like his inspiration).  Artwork is good.

5 Ronin seems like a great introduction to and foundation for an interesting series.  The problem is, there's no sign that anything will be built off of it, and sadly the series we're left with doesn't really add up to the whole of its parts.  The tales, especially Wolverine and Punisher, stand on their own and are fantastic samurai dramas that should be enjoyed by just about anyone.  The others can certainly be enjoyed, and the series as a whole is not bad in any sense of the word.  It is, however, extremely flawed, and the fact that the narrative doesn't so much lead up to a climax as it simply ends is the most disappointing part.

Despite this, I give 5 Ronin gets 3.5 stars out of 5.  There are parts of this series that deserve to be read and enjoyed, but only the devoted need follow the entire narrative thread.
  
-ImperiousRix
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Nerf goes to Asgard...

I'm a nerd who likes to play bad-ass.  As a nerd, however, I'm not keen on the whole "getting severely injured" thing.  As such, I dig Nerf's line of "safe" combat equipment (especially those damn swords). 
 
As such, I was positively giddy when I saw THIS
 
Yep, Nerf's making a Nerf Mjolnir, alongside some pretty cool looking Asgardian swords.  So, now you too can feel "wield the power of Thor" without risk to (much) bodily harm.  Hell, I picture picking this thing up and just hurling it straight at my little brother's big melon. 
 
Okay, maybe I won't be doing that, but still.  Am I the only one who finds this to be uber-cool?

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Top 15 Justice League Unlimited Episodes: THE MOVIE (FINALE)

With a bigger drop in viewership than The Cape, I present the finale of my Top 15 Justice League Unlimited episodes! 
Missed part 1 or 2?  Well then check those out right HERE and HERE, respectively. 
  

   
Thanks to all the Comic Viners who checked this out.  I hope it was at the very least entertaining.  Any comments or criticisms are welcome, and thanks again for watching. 
Until next time...
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Top 15 Justice League Unlimited Episodes: THE MOVIE (9-5)

Back with 100% more crooning Batman, it's part II of my Top 15 Justice League Unlimited episodes!   
Missed part I or the blog this part of the countdown was based off?  Well then click HERE or HERE respectively and getchoo some JLU goodness! 
So without further ado... 

  
I'm truly touched by the reception from the Comic Vine community with part I, so while I'm still fairly relevant, I'd like to thank everybody. 
And if you enjoyed part I, I hope you equally enjoy part II.  I'll start working on the finale next week, and hopefully have it up at about the same time.  Again, feel free to leave comments (or even criticisms) as it's greatly appreciated and welcome. 
Until next time...
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