Tuesday, May 27, 2014

EmpiresCV.tv Episode 154 - New Comics and Sac Con on Sunday

 In this episode, in the first minute, we shares how you can win free tickets to this weekend's Sac-Con. Note: To participate, you have to visit our FB Page and comment in the post about this video.

After that, we talk comics! Enjoy, and take some time watch Ben and special guest Jay Wheeler talk comics on Jay's show, Coffee & Comics.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

EmpiresCV.tv Episode 153 - 4th Saturday of Free Comic Book Month

Free Comic Book Month continues at Empire's Comics Vault. Bring your FCBMonth Passport down and get it stamped for access to freebies.

You've probably heard about Captain Dylan Hunt. We're so excited we can't stand it! Coming soon, we're throwing her a party. Hope you'll come. Things will be on sale in her honor.

Well, that's right, there's new comic books this week also, and you'll see what they are when you watch our brief highlights video. Enjoy.

Sacramento comic books at Empire's Comics Vault
Ben loves Saga.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Secret Avengers - Issue 2

Ever wonder what the conversation is like between two BFF men adrift in space without a lifeline in sight? Or what it's like for MODOK to save the day? Or what it's like for Hawkeye to be stuck on a mission with, not one, but two ex-girlfriends -- Jessica and Natasha?

Read this issue to find out. It wraps up the "Save the Empire" storyline with a neatly tied comic book bow. You'll feel fully satisfied after reading this, but wanting more.

Issues one and two set the expectation level high for what's ahead in this book. As Director Hill says, "This is the Secret Avengers. There are no rules."

Storyline: Save the Empire: Part two of two
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Michael Walsh
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer & Production: VC's Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Tradd Moore & Matthew Wilson

By RonOfTheEmpire
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

EmpiresCV.tv Episode 152 - Store Changes Afoot

Ben shows off some store changes by sitting in a new space! He also talks up the comics that are making an impression on him, including Starlight. Plus, somethings changing at Dark Horse. Watch and find out.

Ben, excited like a little kid

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Episode 6 - Geek Talk with Angela and Ian

Empire's Comic's Vault back issues
Read comics. Talk comics.
New comic book reader Angela McIntire and her brother, Ian McIntire, join Ben to talk about cool geek stuff, like Green Lanterns, movies, television, and more.

About our podcast

Sacramento comic shop owner Ben Schwartz sits down with fans of the shop to talk comics. You can subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Tomb Raider - Issue 1

As a reader of Top Cow's Tomb Raider, I can say that it is in fact a pleasure to see Lara Croft gracing the pages of a comic book again. But it gets better: She's being written by Gail Simone.

This story builds the suspense for a much deeper mystery. Laura is being haunted, literally, by a previous adventure -- the discovery of an island of legend, an island called Yamatai. But Laura isn't alone in this nightmare; the other survivors are also suffering.

This story, "Survivor's Guilt!," starts with suspense and tension and only escalates from there as part of a much larger storyline, "Season of the Witch."

The art and inks are clean and strong. Facial expressions are on point and clear, no fudging. The colors really stand out, ranging from simple for indoor scenes to really textured and lush outdoors.

Script: Gail Simone
Pencils: Nicolas Daniel Selma
Inks: Juan Gedeon
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Dan Dos Santos

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Secret Avengers - Issue 1

What a team! Coulson and Fury. Jessica and Natasha. Hill and MODOK? And the one who isn't supposed to be a part of the team -- Cliff Barton.

It ends with a bullet hole through Director Hill's hand. Mid-story, Natasha, Jessica, and Cliff fight AIM agents in bath towels and, well, nude (that Cliff!). It all starts with Fury and Coulson in space.

You'll have to read it to find out how it all connects, but one thing is certain: Secret Avengers is frenetic and hilarious comic book fun.

The art is expressive and playful. It really moves and is well complemented by colors beyond the primaries. The color combinations create some interesting contrasts. The lettering impresses, and if it can be said, it's also expressive and playful, yet without causing distraction. What a team.

Storyline: Save the Empire: Part one of two
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Michael Walsh
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer & Production: VC's Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Tradd Moore & Matthew Wilson

By RonOfTheEmpire
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Friday, May 9, 2014

Episode 5 - I Stared For Far Too Long

Comics Shop talks movies and comic books with customers
Ben, David Barrie, Justin Piper
Maleficent, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men movies, disappointment, joy, indie comics, and a whole lot more! But watch out! This episode contains spoilers.

Sacramento podcasters Justin Piper of Fist Full of Potions and David Barrie of The Capeless Crusaders join Ben and break it down for real. Check out their podcasts for more geeky goodness.

Subscribe at Stitcher Radio or iTunes.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

EmpiresCV.tv e151 - The Rules of FCBD Club

Ben briefly recaps Free Comic Book Day Mini-Con. What he should state are the Rules of FCBD Club:

  1. First rule of FCBD Club: Don't miss Free Comic Book Day Mini-Con.
  2. Second rule of FCBD Club: Don't miss Free Comic Book Day Mini-Con.
  3. Third rule of FCBD Club: If you don't show or don't know, no free books for you (unless you're one of Savings Club Members).
Then, of course, Ben shares some highlights from this week's new books.

One of Image Comics' best books
I Kill Giants, from Image Comics

Thursday, May 1, 2014

You'll Believe A Man Can Fly

By Tony C. Asaro

Before I grew to love Bill Bixby’s and Lou Ferrigno’s The Incredible Hulk or Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman from syndication, before I knew who the Super Friends were or saw goofy cartoon-camp Batman and Robin guest-star on Scooby Doo, before Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones won me over on Saturday mornings with Spiderman & His Amazing Friends, before Mighty Mouse made any kind of sense to me whatsoever in any way, shape, or form, before everybody’s favorite bodacious, pizza-scarfing, sewer-dwelling Turtles cowabunga’d their way into my life, well before old reruns of Adam West’s Batman had me *bam* *biff* and *pow*ing my way around the playground, and the better part of a decade before the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman of the summer of ‘89 drove me to find a friendly neighborhood shop within safe biking distance for a 10 year old and start spending my saved-up birthday/Christmas money on my first real comics summer day after blissful summer day, . . when I peel back the layers of the onion to before any and/or all of that, to my very earliest years, to a time in my life well-before I ought to by-any-right have any clear memories at all, there, a single figure stands tall in the spotlight, a sole shining star upon a fresh and unmarred black-velvet mural.  He wears red boots, he has an “S” on his chest, he sports a perfect spitcurl across his brow, and whatever’s wrong, whatever catastrophe or emergency seems to be erupting all around us at any given moment, you can believe that he’s got it covered, with ease, with confidence, and with a courteous “have a nice day” on the way out.
Born in 1979, one year after the theatrical release of the original Richard Donner Superman film, I was just beginning to be able to comprehend the basics of the English language and make some sense of the moving pictures splashing across our family’s living room TV screen when there Christopher Reeve appeared as Kal El, transposed from the cinema of a few summers past to the airwaves of broadcast home entertainment, which in those pre-VHS/Betamax/Laserdisc/DVD/BluRay/Internet days meant the Network TV Saturday Night Movie of the Week, or some similar event.  There he was in all his red, yellow, and blue glory, poised and statuesque, catching a falling helicopter with one hand and saving wisecracking Lois Lane with the other, reassuring the panicked citizens of bustling Metropolis that everything was going to be alright with that easy, breezy, confident smile, foiling the dastardly machinations of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, and, most astonishingly of all, flying.

Christopher Reeve' Superman in flight

"Most Astonishingly of all, flying"

Here and there, to and fro, slowly and softly at times, frighteningly fast at others, floating, zipping, blazing, cruising, hand out in front of him in that classic pose we all know and love, always making it look easy and natural, as if it were a person’s born right to soar through the skies with breathtaking grace.  The Superman Pose; it doesn’t get much more iconic than that.  It’s the sort of image that’s capable of dispelling nightmares, granting strength and courage in times of anxiety and dark clouds a-gathering, and, when the sun is high and the imagination is hot, inspiring much imitation in the form of infectiously-joyful onomatopoeia-accompanied zooming in fans of all makes and molds, the world over.

The idea that a man could fly so fast around the Earth by sheer force of will alone, that the strength of his love for Lois and his dedication to making things right was powerful enough a source so as to allow him to reverse the direction of the planet’s rotation in order to break the laws of the universe and turn back time itself . . no matter if that particular scene has since come to be ridiculed, no matter if it’s particularly consistent with the character as-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster roughly 80 years ago, the effect of such a display on my young psyche was enormous.  By the power of love (cue: Huey Lewis and/or The News) and sheer strength of will, right can be wronged, the day will be saved.  You can count on it.  That’s some serious, universe-altering philosophy to a two year old; as miracles go, that was substantially more impactful than anything I’d ever seen before.  Sure, Luke, Han, Chewie, Leia, and R2 could blow up a big ugly space station or just barely slip betwixt the teeth of a giant asteroid worm or escape the clutches of a justifiably-pissed-off wampa to live to fight another day, but warping the very fabric of space-time on a global scale was another game in another sort of ballpark, entirely.  Flying?  Reversing the flow of time and snatching back lives from the cold, unflinching maw of Death herself?  Space cowboys are a blast, but it’s no easy task to try and match up to the Man of Steel.

We can fly

When I think back to that era, there are two pertinent memories that I’ve replayed thousands upon thousands of times on the soft, amorphous screen of my mind’s eye; they’re inestimably-precious to me, and I think you’ll find they share more than a few similarities.
At the time in question, when I was pre-grade-school age, the front yard of our house resembled, in profile, a pitcher’s mound.  There was a flat bit up at the top near the house, and then it sloped down at a noticeable angle towards the street, with the sidewalk at the bottom.  Like any kid, I spent a lot of time in that yard, running around, leaping and tumbling, getting itchy from the grass, playing all manner of ball and catch, picking dandelions and running away from bees, the standard for kids and lawns and sunny days.  As such, every inch of that lawn was so cemented in my mind as a setting for play that it would frequently appear as the background for my dreams as well, and often when I would dream of running and playing, of that so-familiar stretch of green, I would reenact one scenario in particular.
It starts with a sprinter’s stance near the wall of the house, on the plateau at the highest part of the lawn, facing down the slope towards the street.  I take a deep breath, and I gather all the strength my tiny, rail-thin form has to call upon, and off I go at maximum acceleration.  Two or three paces in and I dive forward down the slope, fully laid-out, my best Charlie Hustle impression, but instead of coming back to Earth in the natural grass-stains-all-over-my-shirt-and-jeans manner, I ride the momentum I’ve just strained for and the barely-there substance of the thin cushion of air beneath me, and as I go further and further down the slope, still not having touched down, it occurs to me that I’ve done it.  No one else is around to witness, so it’s going to have to be my little secret, but I’ve finally, finally done it.  I’m flying.

Pete Rose
This was my first lucid dream.  I had no idea, of course, what a lucid dream was.  Well into my elementary school years I was vaguely certain that it’d really happened; that this was a thing that I’d been capable of once upon a time, when the conditions were just so, and as long as no one was around to break the magic of it and mess it up.  I dreamed it so often, and in such starkly-vivid HD Technicolor realism that it became more-than a dream, to me, and all these long years later I can still feel the sensations of the crucial moments, the grass under my feet, the pollen smell of spring, the “lift off”, the realization that I’m not coming back down, hands out in front of me, feet arrow-straight behind, keeping my body flat as a board lest gravity notice that I’ve eluded her and take the wind right out from beneath my chin and chest.  In a dream, seconds can feel like miniature eternities, and the only difference between a leap and the subsequent landing is that in our waking lives, time never does seem to cooperate, does it.  But in a dream, with my hands thrust straight out in front of me . . .

Please forgive me if the second of the two memories is a bit more melancholic.  I assure you it’s necessary, and that the story-grand isn’t at all complete without it.
When I was three years old, my family and I suffered an unthinkable tragedy in the passing of my little sister, and even though I was very very young and recall next-to-nothing of that time, I do possess and cherish one memory that remains remarkably clear even three decades later.  It’s not of loving arms around my shoulder, of which surely there were many, or of kind, soft words spoken to me on the edge of my bed, but rather it’s of a brief moment, sometime not too long after the accident, alone, playing on the driveway.  Late-afternoon is turning to near-dusk, and my play is soon to be brought to a close for the day by a call from mom and dad to come in for dinner, and a bath, footie-pajamas, and grape juice and the rest.  But before I get called in, I’m running this way and that across the drive, imagination in full gear, eyes on the clouds, always keeping a lookout for that trademark red blur.

In this memory that I treasure so, I’m even sporting some sort of DIY cape tied around my neck, a blanket or a Halloween remnant, perhaps, if not actually a figment of fiction nestled in between the real of it.  Swooshing and swooping, concrete to lawn and back, weaving around imaginary foes, making that flying sound that all kids know how to make.  And although I am not being dishonest to have called it ‘play’, I can still feel a weight to it, a somber seriousness, even now.  If I run fast enough I can even get the cape to stick out behind me, feel the comforting drag of it, use it as an indicator of speed.  My hands, of course, are straight out in That Pose; you know the one.  I know that it has to end, that I’m being called in, but before I do there’s one more moment, one more try, one more chance to do it right.  If I can run fast enough.  If I can only run fast enough.
It takes a certain amount of care, wherewithal, patience, and -- ultimately -- literacy to hold, turn, and otherwise manipulate those thin, delicate pages, to grasp the sequence and the meaning of the images laying before you, to read and make some sense of the various thought and speech bubbles and editor’s notes strewn about the page, and to be able to digest and galvanize the whole of that into the intended, singular, glorious, oft-transformative experience of Reading A Comic.  So, as with anyone, there was a time, ever so long ago, when I was too young for comic books.  But I was never too young for superheroes, and the first, the matrix, the Hero Prime, the character that taught me what a hero is, and can be, and ought to be, was Superman.
He will do what needs to be done, he will sacrifice and fight and strain and struggle to the best of his ability to do what’s right, always and without question, and if he’s still not quite equal to the task he’ll dig that much deeper, deeper than even he thought he could go, and fight even harder, so hard that you think he’s got to break, any time now, he can’t possibly have anything left.  But if the peril is still nigh, and innocent lives are in the balance, he’ll keep on going.  He’ll break every limit.  He will persevere beyond possibility.  If he has to spin the world in the wrong direction and reverse time, that’s exactly what he’s going to do.  Arms out in front, cape billowing behind, an easy smile, a spit curl, a big red “S” on his chest, teaching us all how to fly.

Freelance Philosopher
Sacramento, CA 

Episode 4 - It's All About Indie Comics

Indie Comic Books Episode

After after three episodes about movies, we're finally talking about comics!

Cameron Brewer, Doug Briel, and Ben tackle indie comics from Vertigo’s Constantine to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Pretty Deadly.

You'll also hear about titles like Think Tank, East of West, Black Science, and more. Plus, we talk about publishers Dark Horse and Image Comics.

We might actually talk about mainstream comics in the next episode. Remember, you can also tune in on Stitcher Radio and iTunes.

Want to join us?

Tell Ben and he'll add you to the waiting list.
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