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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sheep Comic Review: The Answer! Issue #1 (of 4)

The Answer 
Writer: Dennis Hopeless 
Artist: Mike Norton 
Colorist: Mark Englert 
Genre: Superhero, Action/Adventure 
Publication Date: January 23, 2013 
Dark Horse

Format: FC, 24 pages 
Price: $3.99 
UPC: 7 61568 22480 1 00111 

Devin McKenzie is an insomniac librarian with a knack for solving puzzles. The Answer! is a masked crime fighter with a giant exclamation point on his face. Aside from a penchant for late nights, they share nothing in common . . . until both become embroiled in a deadly mystery surrounding a sinister motivational speaker!

* Eisner Award-winning creator of Battlepug!
* Superhero mystery with explosive action! 
* Written by Dennis Hopeless (Cable and X-Force, Avengers Arena)! 

A superhero with an exclamation point on his face? I’ll bite! The comic starts out with Answer-man trying to convince a woman to jump from a ledge to the roof of an adjacent building as armed men fire at them and she isn't having any of it. Then we flash back to four hours earlier where the woman, a librarian named Devin, is at work doing a crossword puzzle, while mindlessly listening to and answering all the questions on Jeopardy. It's her thirtieth birthday and she opens a present from her mother which contains the hardest 3-D puzzle ball ever made. We abruptly switch to a new scene with a motivational speaker talking to a large audience about something called Aperion. We then jump to a scene of a convenience store robbery and Answer man saving the day when he gets an emergency call from someone whose face we never get to see. Answer man dispatches the bad guys and heads off to save Devin, who has solved the puzzle ball and logged onto the Aperion website. There is a kick ass action sequence as Answer man saves Devin but goes down in the fight.

This is the first issue and it has to cram enough info to make us understand the characters, dangle a bunch of hints and mysteries in front of us to get us excited about the story arc, and then hit us with an adrenaline pumping scene with lots of explosions and a surprise twist that has us thinking WTH?. Did this deliver? Yeah, it did. The last panel hooked me on this series and I am excited to see where it goes.

I feel they went a little overboard convincing us just how smart Devin is in the beginning with an exposition dump, but they do only have 32 pages. I still can’t figure out what Aperion is but I don’t think we are supposed to know that yet. Why is he called Answer man? No idea yet, but he appears very detailed-oriented knowing exactly how many minutes and seconds before things happen. 

The panel layout isn't generic looking and definitely says action comic to me with the bright colors and detailed characters. I don’t know how this story will play out just yet, but I plan on hanging around to find out. 

3.5 “Dewey Decimal Master” Sheep

Sharon Stogner (edit by Kalpar)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building a Zombie Survival Dream Team with Justin Robinson + giveaway

Today we have author Justin Robinson talking about which characters he would like to be on his survival dream team. Justin even has a noir zombie novel called Dead on Arrival. Be sure to check it out and his other titles, plus stick around for the tasty giveaway at the end of this post! 

The Zombie Apocalypse Meets Its Match 

Zombie movies are this generation’s uplifting sports drama; no matter how stale, we just can’t get enough. Survival horror, of which the zombie film is the poster child, works because no one is safe, but if they’re really lucky, pack a gat and play ball, one or two characters will make it through. If only the Zombocalypse was like the 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. We wouldn't have to watch annoying and useless characters stumble blindly for the movie until the inevitable bite turns them geek. Even the useful characters die, usually because they’re surrounded by idiots. Imagine if we could assemble the perfect team of survivors, a group in which not only does everyone make it out alive, the zombie apocalypse turns into so much half-rotted mulch on the highway. 

The Leader – Sheriff David Dutten 
Okay, so maybe Sheriff Dutten doesn’t have the best track record. The fact of the matter is very few leaders in these films do, especially ones with coherent plans. So Dutten only managed to get one person out alive. There are two mitigating factors: a) she was a pregnant woman, so way to prioritize the continuation of the species and b) he had to deal with armed zombies, the US Military and a goddamn nuclear bomb. Show me someone else who can do that. And he’s Olyphantastic. 

The Enforcer – Selena 

In a zombie movie, it’s imperative that the leader’s orders be obeyed without question. One slip-up means certain death, and any death means another one of them. You know what I’m talking about. Selena’s a person who knows the stakes and acts without hesitation or conscience to see that things get done right. What happened when that infected might have turned Mark? Selena chopped her only friend into chum without even blinking. She’s also incredibly resourceful: in gun-free England, she makes do with a machete and Molotov cocktails. 

The Q – Ash 

In zombie movies, you can’t just run down to the store and get whatever you want. You have to make do with what you have, which in many cases means finding exciting and terrifying new uses for common household objects. What you need is a man of singular vision. You need a man who looks at a station wagon and sees a whirling-bladed death-tank. You need a man who looks at a chainsaw and sees a workable prosthetic. You need Ash, wielder of the boomstick and the one-liner. The one problem with Ash is he needs a short leash. No letting him fraternize with the locals, no letting him put his hand into evil places and above all, if the Necronomicon should be found (it seems to follow him around like a puppy), it’s best to let someone else – anyone else – read from it. 
The Wheel Man – Peter 

Oftentimes, the reason that people get eaten in zombie movies is because they hole up someplace and wait for the ghouls to get in. Remember your Muhammad Ali: float like a butterfly, sting like SEAL Team 6. It’s possible Ali never said that. Anyway, the best vehicles for floating through zombie country are some form of converted big rig, RV or better yet, a helicopter. Peter has those bases covered and and he delivered one of the coolest lines in the history of zombie movies. If you have to ask what that line is, you should probably stop reading now, because this column probably reads like stereo instructions in Basque. 

The Doc – Scarlet 

While zombie-related injuries are untreatable, there are numerous other hazards in a post-apocalyptic world. Roving packs of bikers armed with conventional weapons are always pestering heroic survivors, to say nothing of the potential for scrapes and bruises while fleeing the undead. Medical personnel are in short supply in zombie films, but Scarlet would be an auto-include even in a packed field. Other than her medical skills, she went through Army basic training, so you have another gun on your side. Plus, if I’m including Olyphant for the ladies, it’s only fair to include Byrne for the gentlemen. 

The Average Joe – Shaun Riley 

Every zombie movie needs an average Joe to put things in perspective. It helps if the Joe is decent in a fight and reacts appropriately when one of his loved ones is inevitably turned. Lionel from Dead Alive almost got it due to his impressive lawnmower skills, but he spent way too much time with Mum before he got wise and made six thousand gallons of geek chowder. While Shaun doesn’t kill Ed, he does take out his mom, and besides, he’s hell with a cricket bat. 

The Holy Man – Father McGruder 

When Hell is full, the dead will walk the earth. You need a man to kick ass for the Lord! Father McGruder, kung fu master and Catholic priest, is the only choice. He can tend to the spiritual needs of the survivors while tending to the getting-kicked-in-the-skull needs of the undead. Sheriff Dutten will have to keep a close eye on Father Mac so that he doesn’t get carried away with all the asskicking and get turned into a snack. 

The Killing Machine – Tallahassee 
There’s an old saying: to a man with a hammer, everything is a nail. Only problem is when there are millions of nails and they’re all trying to eat the soft parts of your face. So you need to kick it up a notch. To a man with a Godzilla, everything is Japan. Tallahassee is this man. He’s taken ghouls out with hedge clippers, a car door, and even a banjo.  He can use guns like Chow Yun-Fat, it’s just that sometimes he likes a little bit of a challenge. With Tallahassee on the loose, the zombies don’t stand a chance. 

The Dog – Beast 
Are dogs necessary? Unless someone on the team has super senses and can warn when the sneakier ghouls approach, you need a dog. More to the point, you need Beast, the revenge-driven German Shepherd and true hero of The Hills Have Eyes. When mutant hillbillies kill Beast’s mate, he decides to go hunting, racking up the biggest bodycount in the film. This is not a dog that barks hysterically. This is the canine equivalent of Liam Neeson, whispering cold-blooded promises in rotted ears before reminding everyone this is a human-only plague.

The Token Zombie – Fido 

I’m not saying you have to have a zombie on the team. I’m just saying that if you had to have one, there’s no other choice than Fido. For one thing, he has the domestication collar, which is enough of a behavior inhibitor that you won’t wake up to him chewing your toes off. Secondly, once you teach him the meaning of love and family, he’s a loyal member of the team.

Sheriff Dutten, Selena, Ash, Peter, Scarlet, Shaun, Father McGruder, Tallahassee, Beast, and Fido. That’s the dream team of zombie slayers, and together they can make it to hell and back.

Undead On Arrival
ebook is only $2.99

Today is the last day of Glen Novak’s life.

Five years after the end of the world, the few remaining humans are barricaded in a small vacation town on the California coast, beset by hordes of the undead.

A single bite turns a man into a walking corpse. There’s no cure and no hope.

Someone made sure Novak was bitten and now he has one day to put things in order, protect his people and, most importantly, exact revenge.

About the Author:
Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option.

Signed print copy of Undead On Arrival, bookmarks, a couple postcards, and buttons. 
International giveaway

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Comic Review: (ARC) The Legend of Zelda - Hyrule Historia

Genre: Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Publication Date:January 29, 2013
Format: FC, 276 pages; HC, 9" x 12"
Age range: 8+

Dark Horse Books and Nintendo® bring you The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, containing an unparalleled collection of historical information on The Legend of Zelda™ franchise. This handsome hardcover contains never-before-seen concept art, the full history of Hyrule, the official chronology of the games, and much more! Starting with an insightful introduction by the legendary producer and video-game designer of Donkey Kong™, Mario™, and The Legend of Zelda™, Shigeru Miyamoto, this book is crammed full of information about the storied history of Link’s adventures from the creators themselves! As a bonus, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia includes an exclusive comic by the foremost creator of The Legend of Zelda manga—Akira Himekawa!


I will admit I have never played a Legend of Zelda video game and I have only glanced through my daughter’s Zelda manga collection, but I have a vast appreciation for manga and graphic novel media. Even though I don’t play any video games, I love the rich stories and worlds created for them and a long-running series like Legend of Zelda has an incredibly deep and complex mythology. Translating the games into a graphic novel format gives the artists and creators a chance to show off all the amazing material they couldn’t fit into the finished project.

This special edition is crammed full of information and details from the creative teams behind this flagstaff franchise for Nintendo. They talk about everything from the clothing choices, character naming, and world building and then pair this with breath taking artwork, some never seen before, which creates an extraordinary aesthetic experience.

My favorite part, aside from the artwork, was the bonus exclusive comic by Akira Himekawa the creator of The Legend of Zelda manga. They even published it backwards like most manga. According to Akira Himekawa, it concludes “the very first Zelda tale” and is the first time they have drawn grown-up Link in manga in 12 years. And he is looking quite smexy if I do say so myself ;). (Kalpar: brain just broke.) We find out how Link met the White Goddess Hylia, Loftwing, the evil Demon King and the creation of Skyloft.

This is book will thrill and impress the most avid fan as well as the casually curious. Happy 25th Anniversary Legend of Zelda! Here’s too many more.

5 Sheep

Sharon Stogner (edit by Kalpar)

Movie Review: The Impossible

The Impossible (12a)
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland
Running time: 114 min

A family vacation takes a catastrophic turn for the worst as the family find themselves in the grips of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Basking in the idyllic surroundings of Thailand after a happy Christmas day, the winter vacation of Maria, Henry and their three sons could not be more perfect. It does indeed seem impossible that such a picturesque scene could be broken by such a devastating turn of events, but broken it is.

Based on a true story, The Impossible reconstructs the events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which destroyed huge parts of coastline and wiped out inhabitants. In terms of its depiction of the disaster, The Impossible certainly paints a graphic and heart-rending picture. In the blink of an eye, the lives of the family are changed forever.

The graphics go some way to representing the terror of the tsunami with long shots of the wave giving an indication of the scale of the catastrophe. However, unlike so many other new movies focusing large-scale disasters, The Impossible doesn’t rely on special effects. The quality of the acting shines through with both Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts (who play Henry and Maria) providing convincing and moving performances. Their desperation and despair at the family’s separation following the tsunami evoke nothing less than the audience’s worst nightmares.

Much of the film is uncomfortable to watch. We witness the gore of Maria’s torn open arm. Underwater shots allow us to see the struggles of the victims as the wave hits land. The film doesn’t sugar-coat the horrific events but there is a sense that the film has been tailored to suit a Western audience. The family is not indigenous to the area but is in fact British and there’s a feeling that many of the scenes have been constructed solely to achieve maximum tear-jerking effect.

Nevertheless, the film does provide a thought-provoking symbol of the fragility of life. Maria and Henry’s son, Lucas, once a spoilt and awkward boy, shows his heroism as he attempts to save other families as well as his own. We are reminded that this type of film could only ever provide a snapshot of the events of Boxing Day 2004. The horrors faced by the family are representative of the many thousands of other families affected by the tsunami. A gripping and vivid viewing experience, the film succeeds in providing a poignant reminder of the destructive power of nature.

4 out of 5 Sheep 
Reviewed By: Emma Carey from Following the Nerd

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) 
R, 1 hr. 40 min. 
Action & Adventure, Comedy 
Directed By: Tommy Wirkola 
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen and Peter Stormare 
In Theaters: Jan 25, 2013 Wide 
Paramount Pictures/MGM 

After getting a taste for blood as children, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have become the ultimate vigilantes, hell bent on retribution. Now, unbeknownst to them, Hansel and Gretel have become the hunted, and must face an evil far greater than witches...their past. -- (C) Paramount 

Witches, trolls, and Jeremy Renner under my bed… OH MY! This is a fun and entertaining movie. Yeah, it has some flaws, like convenient diabetes, but overall it is a sensory overload of action and snark.

I like the way they used the original fairy tale up to the point where the kids throw the witch into the oven, there's even a candy house. Then the movie takes it from there, adding a new twist as to why Hansel and Gretel were left and what happens to them afterwards. They become a pair of famous witch hunters, but Muriel the black witch (Femke Janssen) has waited a long time to get her hands on these two.
don't make her angry...

you wouldn't like her when she gets angry!
There is a weird mixing of time periods. The town has a medieval motif, but Hansel and Gretel have some pretty advanced weaponry like a rapid fire cross bow (yes, I want one) and a Gatling gun, as well as shotguns. And these two can take a beating! There is over the top violence and Hansel loves the “F” word, which is probably why it got an R rating, but we brought our 11 year old daughter (I know, parenting fail) and she LOVED it.

The witches are bad ass and fly on large tree branches, which I thought was pretty cool, but Gemma Arterton as Gretel was a little hard for me to believe. She is just too pretty compared to the rest of the cast and looked much younger than Jeremy’s Hansel, but I was able to overlook that once the action started. There were many predictable one liners, but they were still funny as hell and lots of visual jokes as well, such as old fashion milk bottles that have hand drawn missing children posters tied to them.
The theater where we saw it only had it in 3-D. I am not impressed with 3-D and don’t think it is worth the extra money, but if you enjoy that experience there are some pretty cool effects. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a rocking action movie as long as you don’t take it to serious and is worth a matinee price for sure.

4 “don’t eat the eff-ing candy!” Sheep

Sharon Stogner (edit by Kalpar)

Book Review: Ever After (The Hollows #11) by Kim Harrison

Ever After (The Hollows #11) by Kim Harrison 

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing... for the worse. 

While saving the world is important, it isn't Rachel's only motivation. There's also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It's also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He's already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn't give herself up soon, they'll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn't going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She's also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she's going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones... and prevent an apocalypse before it's too late. Or, at least that's the plan

If you haven’t read this series here is the link to book one, Dead Witch Walking. Ever After is a kick ass story all on its own, but this is an urban fantasy series and the journey of these characters is what makes it emotionally satisfying. While I won’t give any spoilers away for Ever After (and boy, are there some biggies!) there are some character relationship issues that would spoil the beginning of this series for you.

Waiting for the lucky folks getting to start the Hollows journey to go away

Where to even start!? This is book #11 (out of #13) and Kim Harrison is still bringing the Boom! The story is moving along with a focused direction and we are still learning new things about The Hollows world. This book focuses on the demons and the Ever After. Where did it come from, why does it look the way it does, and most importantly why do demons behave the way they do? It is actually a little heartbreaking. Since we are dealing in the Ever After we get to see a lot of Al. I have no idea what Al’s HEA is going to be but it has sort of begun in this book and you won’t look at him or any of the demons, the same again. 

For all the Trent and Rachel shippers out there I am cautiously optimistic. Their relationship has come to a turning point (don’t you love how vague I am!?) for the better. There is a permanent trust between the pair now, and they have one hell of fight coming up, along with a ton of diapers, in the next two books that they plan on facing together.

There isn't a lot of Ivy in this book and I find I don’t really miss her, but Rachel made a promise to help Ivy get her soul back. After seeing what happens to aging vampires, Rachel is more determined than ever to help Ivy and all vampires so I suspect we will find out how and if this can be done in the next two books. Jenks is starting to be more open minded and understand there is more to life than just the “Pixie” way. Harrison hasn't given us too many clues as to where is HEA is heading in this book. Bis also comes of age in Ever After; I LOVE that little gargoyle! The gargoyles play a big part in helping Rachel try to save the Ever After.

Most of you have heard there are some sad parts. Storylines have to be tied up and when you are dealing with a demon like KuSox people are going to die. I was floored by one of them.

The book as a whole is fabulous. The series arc is moving at a good pace and the book arc was an action packed page turner. I have been following this series for a long time and I am completely invested in them. When the last book comes… I don’t even know what I will do. I think Dr. Seuss said it best…

“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss 

Yeah, I'll cry anyway...

I will be attending Kim Harrison's book signing Feb 2 in Raleigh, NC. There will be a post about the signing and a give away of some sort!

10 "I just did that!" 

Sharon Stogner (edit by Kalpar)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Smell Sheep Mission Statement + bribe

We promise to...

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
(unless it will get us in trouble, then we are so going to lie!)

Not trip you if zombies are chasing us

(we will trip the followers of those 'other' sites)

Serve and protect the moonpies and Kool-Aid in the Facebook group

Never do drugs

(unless we brought enough for everyone)

Bring sexy back in the form of vampires, shifters, fae, werewolves, superheroes and robots


(and not blame you! we have a dragon for that)

Have an open door policy for the dungeon
(Jake the dragon will cull the herd if you cause trouble)

Have and to hold you from this day forward

(unless you become a zombie, then we will have to kill you. Again. No offense.)

Poke it with a stick before picking it up

Wash our hands between every post

Give sh** away
(bribery is so underrated)

Help you hide the bodies

(we have a dungeon, remember?)

Not drink straight from the milk jug
(unless no one is looking)

Feed the ducks, cause they got to eat too!

Make you laugh!

(if you don't think we are funny, don't worry. It isn't us. It's  you.)

(a.k.a. the bribe)
1. Winners choice from the Sheep Swag Store + Swag pack!
 Also have mouse pads and mug with the sheep logo.
2. Alpha Diner pen + swag pack
3. 4 swag packs
That is 6 winners in all!!! So start drinking the Kool-Aid... we have all the cool flavors ;)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Comic Review: To Hell You Ride #2 (5)

To Hell You Ride #2 
Writer: Lance Henriksen, Joseph Maddrey 
Artist: Tom Mandrake
Colorist: Cris Peter
Cover Artist:Tom Mandrake
Genre: Horror
Publication Date: January 09, 2013
Format: FC, 32 pages
Price: $3.99
UPC: 7 61568 21220 4 00211
The townsfolk’s chemical efforts to bring snow lead to a horrifying nightmare as mad science mixes with mother nature to release a curse buried for a hundred years in rock—the results will melt flesh from bones in the small Colorado town.

* Written by horror movie icon Lance Henriksen (Millennium,Aliens, Near Dark)!

"The Alchemy of Snow" begins with a glimpse at the tumultuous childhood of Two-Dogs, specifically the suicide of his father, then picks up where the first issue left off: with Two-Dogs in a jail cell.

After his drunken escapade from the night before, Two-Dogs is released by the town sheriff (incidentally the same man who cared for him as a boy after his father's suicide) to find the town being prepared for the ski season. But the town carries a five-year curse of no snow, which is pretty catastrophic for a resort town. So, the inimical mayor orchestrates a chemical experiment to bring snow, but what comes with the snow is something no one could have known--except maybe Two-Dogs.

The first issue of this series pulled me in, but this second issue hooked me. The stakes are coming into view and it's a little clearer what path Two-Dogs is being led on and it seems pretty clear he's going to have to make some tough choices, as far as the town and his own life are concerned. Mayor Cubby Boyer is a bit of a well-worn character, as the avarice politician, but the scene where Two-Dogs confronts him in his own special way after getting out of jail was too hilariously enjoyable.

With an even stronger blend of crime, fantasy, and horror, To Hell You Ride is quickly shaping up as a stand-out for 2013 in the eyes of his genre mutt. Hopefully, Henriksen, Maddrey, and Mandrake can keep the momentum going with this series. 

Also check out Gef's review of To Hell You Ride #1

4 1/2 stars

Guest reviewer: Gef Fox
Wag The Fox: a den for dark fiction