Activity Volume 3 by Nathan Edmondson
View book: Activity Volume 3
Team Omaha, an elite group of investigators, embarks on a thrilling, globe-trotting journey from Ft. Belvoir to Fallujah. Their mission? To relentlessly pursue and uncover the intricate web of secrets behind a major conspiracy orchestrated by one of the United States’ most prominent adversaries.
Double Feature: Nathan Edmondson and Mike Carey, featuring The Activity and The Dream Merchant.
Hi, guys! Welcome back to Kapow! I’m Sonia and I’m really excited to be back here at King’s Comics. How have you been?
Oh, not bad. You know, read some comics, bought some new jeans.
Hey, did you have time to read this week’s comics?
Spent two days in a bamboo cage hung over a chasm.
Okay, great. So, you had some downtime because we have a lot of stuff to get through today. We are doing a bit of a double feature episode with a look at two titles each from two of our favorite writers, Nathan Edmondson and Mike Carey. Anything else?
Oh yeah, actually we’re also doing an “Ask Kapow” and Rey’s coming in also doing the double feature thing. He’s looking at two fantastic Magneto statues. Any questions?
Two? Oh, that works. One, can I get rabies from monkey bites and two, do we have any band-aids?
You know what, let’s just dope up real good. Okay, we’ve come to know writer Nathan Edmondson from his taught spy thrillers like “Dancer” and “Who is Jake Ellis?” really grabbing our attention. But he’s just recently started a new series that kind of goes down a very different path. Of course, rather than just looking at issue one of “The Dream Merchant,” we’ve decided to also have a look at volume one of his ongoing title “The Activity.” And why, you ask? Well, it’s a thinly veiled excuse to read more comics if I’m honest, and there is nothing wrong with that.
So, volume one of “The Activity” introduces us to a five-member team in an ultra-secret group called the Intelligence Support Activity, a department that gets called in only on the most difficult missions, often to clean up the mess left behind by other intelligence officers.
Yeah, now there’s a good mix of characters in this story, but they do all play their cards extremely close to the chest, which can make it a little difficult to empathize with them at times. But even that does lend an air of authenticity to the story. I mean, these guys are clearly consummate professionals.
Indeed, and if there is a factor that defines this series, it is that sense of authenticity; from the high-tech gadgets to the grim jobs they sometimes have to do, to the foreign language dialogue that appears without translation. You get the feeling of being a fly on the wall during a genuine clandestine operation. Even military colloquialisms like “kat voor” find their way into the text. But luckily, there is a glossary at the back for the uninitiated.
Indeed. I also think this kind of realism is held together by Mitch Gerard’s artwork. Absolutely! I mean, it seemed a bit rough and sketchy for me to start with, but it grew on me as I saw how it lent itself to the story style. I did really enjoy this. I mean, although I could have done with a bit more character development, it is still a buy from me. Look, it’s a buy from me as well. I didn’t mind the fact that the personalities aren’t really gone into because it’s all about the mission and this. And I think that’s what volume two will be, so I really love this. Tort spy thrillers do not get any torta. Moving on? Yes, moving on to “The Dream Merchant.” Quite a beat change from the other Edmondson titles we’ve looked at. It revolves around a young man named Winslow who has trouble telling his recurring dream from reality. Even more trouble when elements of the dream seem to be making their way into the real world. Now, obviously we’ve seen other writers tackling this concept before, most notably with Neil Gaiman and his “Sandman” series. But in this one, there’s a bit of an intriguing angle that’s being used that I’m quite excited about.
I’m a bit confused. I don’t know where this story is going, largely because it’s a bit of a slow starter. But that works in terms of introducing the hazy, half-awake world that Winslow moves through. It’s not until quite a ways into this first double-sized issue that things start kicking off as the walls between dream and reality start falling down. I’ve got to say though, although there is some good dialogue and some good character development as well, the real star in this for me has to be Constantine Novozelov’s artwork. Absolutely! It’s fantastic work, isn’t it? And quite fantastical. Yes, it really is. The set pieces are excellent, and the character models are fascinating and diverse. I think the artwork is only going to be more impressive as we delve further into the mystery behind Winslow’s recurring dream. I’m giving this one a buy. Look, I’m always on the lookout for a new and interesting miniseries, and this one really hits the mark. It’s definitely going to make its way into my buying rotation. It is a buy from me as well. Excellent.
Okay, you guessed it. It’s time for another “Ask Kapow.” David asks, “Which DC storyline that has neither Superman nor Batman would you choose for a DC animated film?” Now, obviously most of the films coming out of DC Warner Studios have one or both of these guys, so it’s kind of an interesting concept to think who may have been overlooked. Now, my first instinct was a series called “When in Rome” by Tim Sale and Jeff Loeb. It sees Catwoman in Rome doing a heist, lots of Gotham villains popping up for cameo appearances, and it may just happen to be one of my favorite storylines, and I think it would be awesome animated. Okay, but honestly, I think that’s probably cheating. I think the “no Batman” rule has to be extended to cover all your varied Gothamites. So, I think we need to look a little bit further out of the box. If I’m honest, I’d like to see an animated version of one of the Hellblazer series, possibly “Dangerous Habits.” Look, I can see that. That would work, but I don’t know whether it would get past the censors. I mean, DC Warner has shown that they’re willing to go a little bit darker with “Dark Knight Returns Part 2,” sure, but I don’t think they’re quite ready to animate a Garth Ennis storyline. I mean, could you imagine an animated “Preacher”? Oh, God, that would be terrifying. Generations of scarred children everywhere. No, we don’t want that. No, okay, so what else have we got? Oh, well, I actually think that the New 52 “Dial H” would also make an awesome animated film. Okay, yup, no, I can see where you’re going. Random crazy superheroes. There’s certainly a lot of scope for the visual deliciousness there. But I gotta say, again, may not have enough broad appeal, and it’s also unlikely, given that DC has cancelled “Dial H”. Yes, unimpressed faces right here. I’m not happy about that. Okay, okay, so we want an animated film that doesn’t have Bruce or Supes in it, that isn’t so dark that it won’t get past the censors, but it’s still really awesome. So, why don’t we delve a little bit further into the Vertigo catalog? Sure, so in that case, I put my hand up for “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from Fables. I think that would be really, really cool, and you’d have an opportunity to create other stories within Fabletown. It’d be awesome animated. I can see how that would be very cool, actually. I mean, there’s still some content there that might be a little worrying to the censors, but that could be worked around. I think that could work quite well. Yeah, okay, well, that’s just a few ideas from our fevered imaginations. But what do you guys think? I mean, have we been too abstract? Is there a leaguer who isn’t ready for a film to be made of his life and story? From The Flash, maybe? Or is there someone from further back in the canon that we’ve completely forgotten about? One of the little guys? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube comments because I’d love to get into this a little bit more. I think it’s a really cool concept. And also, if you have any other questions for us, Kapow, we’re always happy to take those on board. So again, get on the social networking and let us know. Hello, Rey. Hello, Sonia. It is actually me. Yeah, okay. Allegedly it is. I’m back. I’m telling you. It’s just me. Yeah, sure. I believe you. Thousands wouldn’t, though. Well, we’ve started to see a few images from Days of Future Past, and to stay in theme with our double-hitters, I thought we’d compare two exceptional Magneto statues. Firstly, Kotobuki’s Marvel Magneto Fine Art Statue. It’s inspired by one of the most iconic poses by Jim Lee and stands at 14 inches tall. Secondly, we have a Magneto action statue by Bowen. Another comic-inspired piece which stands at 19 inches tall and even has a slight difference in the size of these two statues. They’re both within the sixth-scale category. Cool. Now, you actually own one of these statues, don’t you, Rey? Yes, I do. But I don’t want to reveal which one I own just yet. Yes, but I know, I know, I know, I want to try and have an unbiased opinion here. Okay, well, the Kotobukiya is by Eric Sosa. He’s a superb talent. He has a huge list of sculpting credits to his name. And the Bowen is by Jason Smith. He’s the senior artist at Direwolf Digital. He’s a video game designer and also a fantastic digital artist as you can see. Both men are very talented. Absolutely, but let’s start from the bottom. Let’s start with their bases. I love the base on the Bowen. The final outstretched hand of the fallen sentinel looks amazing and sets the scene immediately. Small details like the broken fingers are a really great choice. Well, look, both bases tell a story. The Kotobukiya depicts Magneto above the ruins of the Xavier School, but the Bowen is a far more interesting choice. The detail of the battle damage is awesome, and I love how you can see little glimpses of the sentinel mechanics. Now, onto the poses themselves. Both depict an elevated Magneto. The idea itself is superb and breaks from that static, neutral stance which, in my opinion, simply isn’t Magneto. The Kotobukiya is a little more understated. Is he coming to rest or is he launching another attack? I love the tension in his muscles, and I thought it was a really clever idea to add the debris around him to signify his power. Yeah, with the cape simply flicking around behind him like a wily little cat. Whereas with the Bowen cape, it’s at full stretch like giant wings. This explosive power, demonstrated with the arms outstretched, looming forward, shows Magneto at the height of his terror. But I don’t like the face so much on the Bowen statue. It’s something about his open, toothy roar coupled with the arms and cape that makes it slightly comical. The Magneto surprise, the gritted teeth and intention of the Kotobukiya is stronger to slightly mask that humor. I’d consider putting two other figures in the foreground and have Magneto rising behind to really harden that image. He’d look badass. Now, it’s interesting that Smith decided to make the little emblem on the helmet purple and the shoulder brace for the cape round. Aesthetically, I like the rounded edge more, although I’m not so fussed on the purple of the emblem. And the square version on the Kotobukiya is more traditional. Yes, Sosa is working hard to maintain that Jim Lee image. Totally. You know what? I feel the same way about the belt across the waist. The Kotobukiya looks a bit more like a sumo belt, and it isn’t as flattering. But it’s exactly how Jim Lee portrayed him. I think we should give our verdict, Sonia. Well, I don’t know whether it’s Kotobukiya or Sosa who decided on this one to make the cape blue. It kind of throws me a little bit. Look, I think it’s Kotobukiya’s choice, actually. They like to make their designs have a little edge, something that signifies their brand. I find it breaks the color scheme, actually, and it looks pretty good. I also love the electric red of the suit over the Bowen. Yeah, that I do like. Look, overall, I think I tend towards the Bowen statue more. Just weighing up all the pros and cons; bases, color work, faces. You know, gotta do these things. Okay, I think Bowen just pips Kotobukiya at the post. Having said that, though, they are both amazing statues, beautifully made, and they’re both a buy from me. Great! Well, yes, I can understand it’s a very tough decision. You’ve got one that’s slightly more modern and grand, and the other one that’s slightly more traditional and understated. The Kotobukiya does come with an alternate display, it’s Magneto without his helmet, and it’s closer to the original artwork that it was based on. But look, I’m gonna give them both a buy as well. Yeah, but you’re not actually gonna reveal which one is yours, are you, Rey?
No, no, no. I’m not because I want our viewers at home to tell us which one they would choose and see if they can pick which one I chose.
Alright, well, I’m not Al. I’m Sonia. I’m telling you, I just get confused all the time. I don’t even know anymore.
Next on the slate for our double feature episode, it’s a look at the work of Mr. Mike Carey. Now, the new series that he’s brought out through Boom! Studios is a twist on the superhero genre called “Suicide Risk.” But what else are we looking at?
We should be taking a look at volume one of his long-running series, “The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity.”
Excellent. Now, I first started reading Mike Carey’s work with his outstanding run on “Hellblazer.” How about you?
It was actually a standalone called “God Save the Queen,” which is still one of my favorite books. And then I went on to the “Sandman” spin-off, “Lucifer,” which is awesome. But enough, enough, enough! We are talking about “The Unwritten.”
That’s right. It’s hard to know where to start with this one, though, because the plot is rather complicated. It revolves around a young man named Tom Taylor, who is an unwilling celebrity due to his father creating an insanely popular series of books about a boy wizard called Tommy Taylor. The reference to the Harry Potter books is obvious, but the literary references are only just beginning.
Yeah, even Tom being co-opted into literature by his father is a reference to A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and his own son, Christopher Robin. In the end, “The Unwritten” is a story about the power of stories and the people who manipulate them for their own gain. Not just in a figurative way, characters and magical items from literature start to make their way into the real world, and Tom Taylor’s life spins completely out of control. It would probably be a waste of time to try and summarize the high concept awesomeness that is “The Unwritten” in a short review, but suffice to say that it traipses through just about every literary landscape you can imagine. And artwork by Peter Gross keeps perfect pace.
Yeah, it looks great, doesn’t it? It transitions perfectly when the story goes to other times or to other realities. There are echoes of other titles within this, like “Fables,” but it still has a very unique voice. “The Unwritten” is an incredibly clever story and comes highly recommended. It’s a buy from me.
Yeah, I definitely want to see these characters throw down again. That’s going to be awesome. And you know what? Even if Leo did cast caution to the wind a little too readily for our liking, he is still an engaging character and I want to see where this goes. It’s a buy from me as well. Awesome.
And with that, we come to the end of another episode of Kapow. My painkillers are rapidly fading, but it is really nice to be home.
You keep complaining, but at least you got to have a bit of a break. That must have been nice.
I think I have malaria.
Okay, but you know, a change of climate is always nice. I nearly lost a toe. Yikes!
Okay, guys, remember you can jump on over to SFTV.com.edu, where this week we’re looking at the first issues of “Chin Music” and “Dream Thief.” So that’s great.
I can smell almonds.
That’s not good. Let’s go get you fixed up. We’ll see you next week, guys.
No, no, no. There’s no monkeys. You’re fine.