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Trunk Bubbles

Review: X-O Manowar

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Trunk Bubbles Review: X-O Manowar (Vol 5) #1

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum

Art: Emilio Laiso

Colors: Ruth Redmond

Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Published By: Valiant Entertainment

Cover Price: $3.99

Super quick recap if you don’t know who X-O Manowar is:

Visigoth warrior prince Aric of Dacia was abducted, along with several members of his clan by a race of plant-like aliens called The Vine, hundreds of years ago. After several years of captivity, Aric manages to escape and steal The Vine’s most powerful weapon: a legendary suit of armor called Shanhara. Chaos ensues due to Aric’s inexperience with Shanhara’s powers and rocketed back to earth. However, there was a problem. Time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y wime-y stuff, therefore, the Earth he left is not the same he returns to, since hundreds of years had passed. As a result, we now have a very interesting dichotomy: an ancient, warrior-minded Visigoth prince, wearing a super powered high-tech alien armor, bent on destroying his enemies and trying to reclaim the land that was his by royal right. Think of him as a mixture of Captain America (a man out of time), Thor (deity of a warrior race) and Iron Man.

Now, outside of the pages, X-O’s publication history has been a bit chaotic. Originally created by legendary authors Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith for Valiant Comics, the character and title have had their fair share of revamps, leading up to its most recent iteration in the third volume of X-O Manowar published by the company now called Valiant Entertainment.

This first issue puts our hero and the reader in the middle of a space battle, wasting no time with introductions or recaps, but instead using expository dialogue between Aric and Shanhara as a way to introduce the character and his world to new and seasoned readers alike. I have to admit I missed most of the previous volume of the series, and I was surprised by the fact that Aric and Shanhara now have actual conversations, since in previous volumes Shanhara was sentient, yes, but silent. These interactions will help both Aric and the reader to get through the rest of the story, providing information and character development.

Another thing that surprised me was Aric´s behavior as a “lost in the present” hero, which might work for the character and the story, if you forget the fact that Aric has been around in our time for a while, and already has had lot of contact with other people, fought against other heroes and villains from the Valiant Universe – like Ninjak and Toyo Harada, for example- and was even part of a superhero team himself in the pages of Unity; and there isn’t any indication that this is a complete or soft reboot for the character. However, if you are new to X-O Manowar, you might catch up really quick and still enjoy the book, since the writing is solid and the characters have a distinctive voice.

The artwork is good and uses a clear, traditional super hero narrative with overlaid panels, splash pages and character that break the boundaries of the panel to emphasize action and drama when needed, and resorts to cleaner panel layouts for conversations and interactions between Aric and the rest of the regular human cast of the book.

Although this first issue was released on March 2020, you are still on time to grab a copy –physical or digital – and wait a couple of months for #2, which was scheduled for an April release, but has been pushed back for November due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. And in the meantime, you can also look for previous volumes of the series, available in affordable trade paperbacks, deluxe hardbacks or convenient digital collections published by Valiant Entertainment.

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Sit and Spin

William Elliott Whitmore’s My Mind Can Be Cruel to Me

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Song Title: My Mind Can Be Cruel to Me

Single Sentence Singles Review: With eight full-length albums under his belt, Whitmore redefines the mind’s self-destructive ways with refined songwriting, creating a feeling that places you on a stool with a cold beer in front of you… and in a head space that is all too relatable.

Beyond The Track: What’s the song all about? Here is what Whitmore had to say about it.
Our memories and thoughts can be torturous at times. Mark Twain called it the ‘devil’s race track’, when a line of thought and worry goes around and around in a circle inside our brains. Is the mind a separate entity from the body? At what point does it feel as though our brains are actually betraying us?”

And that’s why…

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Trunk Gaming

Fortnite: Nexus War

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Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 4: Nexus War

Initial Release Date: August 27, 2020

Developer: Epic Games

Publisher: Epic Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertanment

Designer: Darren Sugg

Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Android, Microsoft Windows, Classic Mac OS, iOS

Genre: Battle Royale, Survival, Sandbox

Why We’re Playing It: TrunkSpace is filled with pop culture goodness, and it doesn’t get more random and pop culture-esque than watching John Wick, Batman, Deadpool and She Hulk battle it out fist-to-guns while using trending social media dance moves to taunt each other!

What It’s All About: At its core, Fortnite is a battle royale-style shooter, but it has more layers than a never-ending gobstopper! This season Fortnite has teamed up with Marvel to weave the two worlds together in the Nexus War. Marvel has even released a series of crossover covers this month to commemorate the event.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: Just when you think you might be burnt out or over the last season of Fortnite, they go and do something like drop the Avengers right in the middle of their already overflowing roster of playable skins. This season offers up the chance to actually harness not just a power-up but a SUPER power. You can wield Dr. Doom’s gauntlets, Groots bramble shield, Silver Surfer’s board, and more that have yet to be revealed.

Bonus Level: Whether you’re a marvel fan or not, you will enjoy this season, but if you are a Marvel fan… you’re going to enjoy it WAY more, getting to visit locations like Doom’s Domain or the Sentinel Graveyard where you can use their severed arms to blast yourself across the map. Fornite has truly out-Fortnited themselves with this season, and we can’t wait to see what’s next!

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Sit and Spin

Levi Rowan’s Let It Go

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Song Title: Let It Go

Single Sentence Singles Review: Calling something “infectious” may not be the smartest move in 2020, but Levi Rowan is getting us all nostalgic for the word as this latest track is as hot as a fever and is not that easy to shake – unless of course you’re shaking along with the contagious end-of-summer anthem.

Beyond The Track: What’s the song all about? Here is what Rowan had to say about it.

Let It Go is an extremely personal track because it’s basically my origin story. Through multiple instances, I detail negative situations that have influenced me to see the world through an at times frustrating lens. This song was made to lift that off of my shoulders. It’s also a message to everyone not to judge a kid before you know them, it’s really easy to deem someone a bad apple off hearsay before you know what seeds they’ve been grown from. Growing up and trying to find your place in this world is difficult, hopefully, this song will help people take a breath.”

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Trunk Bubbles

Review: Big Girls #1

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GOING BIG WITH JASON HOWARD: BIG GIRLS #1

Story and Art: Jason Howard
Letters: Fonografiks
Published By: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

We, comic book fans are no stranger to certain “rituals”, unique to our geekdom, such as keeping and treasuring hundreds of pollybaged floppies in long boxes – all of which might or might not be read ever again – or getting multiple copies of our favorite books in a myriad of formats. But perhaps, one of the most enjoyable of those rituals is picking up a #1 issue of a book we’ve never heard of before at our friendly LCS (Local Comicbook Shop). And it gets even better when said #1 issue is as good as the debut of BIG GIRLS, the first solo project of renowned artist Jason Howard (Trees, Astounding Wolfman).

Released a couple of weeks back by Image Comics, Big Girls is set sometime in the future, years after an incident – of which we only get a few clues in this first issue – detonated a genetic disease that affected both men and women alike, but with a big (pun intended) twist: men could grow into giant, kaiju-like, mindless monsters, while women simply grew several stories high, retaining their intelligence and human appearance.

While not every human is affected by this mysterious disease, this situation is already part of the culture and everyday life of this world´s society. Pregnancy registration became mandatory, in order to monitor any potential anomaly, and safe zones were put in place for regular citizens to live in. However, constant male monster attacks call for a special team dedicated to fight them back and keep people safe. A team of – wait for it – BIG GIRLS.

Although this is Jason’s first project as a full author, and despite carrying a good heap of exposition in the first issue, the book flows with a comfortable rhythm through the panels, using every available page to tell the story. And when I say every available page, I really mean it: even the usual credit page in almost every Image book is used as an establishing shot to kick start the story.

Jason is doing every part of the artwork: layouts, pencils, inks and colors, helped only by Fonografiks with the lettering. His art in BIG GIRLS has much more in common with his previous work in Trees than with his other longest-running book in Image Comics: Astounding Wolfman. Like in Trees, his inks are rougher and edgier, and he uses crosshatching to add depth to both characters and backgrounds. To some readers this stylistic choice could make them think that the artwork is a bit “dirty”, but it fits nicely with the world the characters live in and the situations they have to face on a daily basis.

His composition and storytelling are very clear and easy to follow, and his character’s designs allows the reader to fully identify who´s who in the panels. Manga and anime aficionados will immediately recognize certain influences in the creatures ‘design, the clothes and equipment of Ember –our main character so far- and the composition of certain shots, used both in classic franchises such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and modern day favorites like Attack On Titan.

All in all, BIG GIRLS # 1 is a solid debut for a new regular series, and I strongly recommend you to grab a copy at your friendly LCS or digital comic store of your choosing (Comixology, Google Play and Apple Books).

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Sit and Spin

dad sports’ name & place

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Single Cover Art By: Adam Elkhadem

Song Title: name & place

Single Sentence Singles Review: If we were coming of age all over again, we would imagine it would sound a lot like this whimsical lo-fi single, which is the dog days of summer translated into song and then amplified for the purpose of creating memories.

Beyond The Track: Hailing from Ottawa, dad sports just signed to Grand Jury Music, an independent record label out of New York.

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Listen Up

Meg Smith’s Cross My Heart I Hope U Die

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Song Title: Cross My Heart I Hope U Die

Single Sentence Singles Review: With a delectably-venomous title to set the table, Smith serves up an audible feast that is both the saltiest and sweetest earworm you’ll ingest all year!

Beyond The Track: “Cross My Heart I Hope U Die” will be featured on Smith’s debut EP, due later this year. As for what she hoped to accomplish with the track? “It came to a point where I decided to totally forget all my preconceived notions about what my music should sound like. So I went into the session and I was like ‘Today I want to write the spookiest song ever.’”

And that means…

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Sit and Spin

Pete Kronowitt’s Roly Poly

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Song Title: Roly Poly

Single Sentence Singles Review: Music is an escape, but it can also carry a message, and in “Roly Poly” Kronowitt reminds us all that we can either be part of the problem or the solution, and he does it while entertaining – not haranguing.

Beyond The Track: Kronowitt’s latest album, Do Something Now (pictured left), is available September 25.

And that means…

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Sit and Spin

Lorenzo Mohr’s Harry Wants To Be Free

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Song Title: Harry Wants to Be Free

Single Sentence Singles Review: With a smooth and playful voice reminiscent of Elton John, Mohr provides a spark of energy to our burned out 2020 brains, setting the table for an anticipated self-titled debut that we can’t wait to lay our ears on!

Beyond The Track: What does the song mean? Let’s hear from Mohr directly on that. “It talks about breaking free from the constant presence of digital technology in our lives. It tells the story of Harry, a character who is tired of being constantly surveilled and monitored, a person dreaming of reuniting with nature and a reality that is truer and more alive.”

And that means…

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Sit and Spin

Lydia Loveless’ Wringer

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Song Title: Wringer

Single Sentence Singles Review: Previewing her first album in four years, “Wringer” prickles with the pain of divorce and remains on brand with the open book approach to Loveless’ songwriting that we have never been able to get enough of.

Beyond The Track: The upcoming album Daughter (art pictured left) will be released on her new label, Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late Records, on September 25.

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