Sith Myths

 Posted by on February 27, 2013
Feb 272013

The announcement back in October that Disney was acquiring LucasFilm for a paltry sum of $4 billion dollars was completely drowned out by a collective ‘geek-gasim’ heard around the world following their second surprise of the day. A new hope had sprung to life within us all when the studio dropped the bomb that they plan to continue on with the original “Star Wars” trilogy, starting with Episode VII in 2015. When I first heard that someone other than Lucas would have control of the reins over the project, I have to admit I thought it was some sort of sick twisted early Halloween ‘trick.’ Possibly perpetrated by a group like “Anonymous,” or those Chinese cyber hackers who keep messing with the D.O.J. When reality finally did set in, I (like many of you I’m sure) began to feel equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. I think we’re all still a little scarred and gun shy from the prequel atrocities, am I right? Does meeeza have to explainzza? (Yeah, that’s right. I went there.)


As an avid reader of comics, and Darkhorse’s “Star Wars” titles in particular, my biggest issue with the acquisition and the subsequent revamping of the extended universe is encapsulated in the dilemma of the following question: Does this mean that all the hard work of many gifted graphic artists and writers, who contributed to what was once considered cannon, now null and void? I’m going to have to table that discussion for the time being, definitely a soapbox for another day.

sw4Since the announcement, the internet rumor mill has been working harder than a ‘man-scaping’ wookie, and conjecture is the current name of the game. And speaking of names, the exclusivity for a director shuffled through anyone who has ever had any interest in sci-fi what-so-ever, or has looked through the correct end of a camera. Every movie site was batting around names like; Jon Favreau, to Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, David Yates, to Zack Snyder, Brad Bird, Mathew Vaughn, Joss Whedon, to the obvious candidate of Lucas’ bestest frenemy Steven Spielberg… you get the idea. Of course we now know that the resuscitator of the “Star Trek” franchise himself, J.J. Abrams (Hey J.J., why no call back for the sequel? I’m so not feeling the love.), is set to direct a script written by Oscar winner Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3″/”Little Miss Sunshine”). That’s just the beginning though, with casting and major plot points still up in the air –  crazy kooks like Super Shadow are going to continue to litter the web with inaccurate or out-and-out false information leading up to the very first trailer of the film and beyond. So let’s see if we can sift through the endless barrage of “bantha poo-doo” speculation, and separate the Sith Myths from the Force Facts.

Continue reading »

Oct 132011

Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts LA Premiere Screening and Q&A
November 15th at 9:30pm
Doors at 9:15

Be there for the LA premiere of Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, a feature length documentary that examines the life, work and ideas of comic book writer and cyberpunk philosopher, Warren Ellis. The film features extensive interviews with Warren himself, as well as friends and collaborators like Joss Whedon, Helen Mirren, Wil Wheaton, Patton Oswalt and many more.

Catch the film hot off its premiere at the Napa Valley Film Festival and stick around afterwards for a Q&A with the film’s director, Patrick Meaney and a TBA special guest!

Tix available HERE

Dark Horse moves into the Dollhouse!

 Posted by on October 27, 2010
Oct 272010

As you flip around the television looking for something to watch, do you find yourself missing the days of Joss Whedon’s cool Dollhouse on FOX?  Yeah, us, too… but cheer up, Meltheads, because Dollhouse lives on in our favorite medium!  Dark Horse Publishing and the little marketing elves at FOX came up with a great plan and a new, limited edition comic entitled “Epitaphs” is being exclusively packaged with the Dollhouse Season 2 DVD.

But wait, there’s more!  “Epitaphs” is written by none other than Dollhouse series writers Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen who also wrote the key epilogue episodes of the series, Epitaph 1 and 2.  And yes, Jed and Maurissa are two of the brains behind the genius “Dr. Horrible” musical.  In both the series and the comic, the “Epitaphs “stories tell how the destructive Dollhouse technology went from being just used on Actives to going global and destroying the world.  The comic, like the show, features the popular characters of “Mag” (Felicia Day) and “Zone” (Zack Ward.)

But wait, there’s still more!  While the first issue of the Dollhouse comic series is featured with the DVD, the good folks at Dark Horse will also be releasing a one-shot follow up and later down the line, a mini-series of the title.  So, to get a little more info on it all, Jason and I went straight to the source – Jed and Maurissa themselves.

S – While the show was in production, was there a plan for a DH comic?

J&M – Originally, a Dollhouse comic was out of the question.  As a new show, we were already off to a rough start… Joss didn’t want to complicate issues by adding anything to his already packed plate.  And with Dollhouse’s intricate premise, it was a bit challenging to envision it in a comic book format.  But as the series progressed and we discovered the apocalyptic world of the Epitaphs, the idea began to appeal to us.  Slowly but surely.

S – Who approached you to write it?  Joss?

J&M – Scott Allie at Dark Horse always kept the idea for the comic alive.  So pushy, that Scott!  But good on him, because here we are.  We started brainstorming together, presented our ideas to Joss, and he gave us the go ahead.

S – Is any of the story to come something we would have seen in a season 3 of the series?

J&M – Possibly.  The very mention of a Season Three is giving us the giggles.  Giggles that are suppressing our tears.

J – How many of the DH characters will make an appearance or have an arc?

J&M – Some of the main characters established in the series will appear in the comics.  And we’ll introduce some new faces as well.

J – How many issues of this run are planned?

J&M – Six altogether, including the issue that was featured in the Season Two dvd.

J – Now that you’re officially comic writers, any plans for original titles?

J&M -Doing an original title would be fun, but we have a lot of TV writing keeping us busy right now…

S – Aside from the DH comic, what other projects are you working on?

J&M – We’re currently writing on the prequel and Season Two of Spartacus on Starz.  We’re also working on a few feature and pilot ideas that we’ve been wanting to conquer for a while now.  And of course we’re always working on material for Dr. Horrible 2.  Joss has a few songs that he’s going to play for us some point soon, but his schedule is a kind of tight right now.  He’s writing some indie feature called “Avengers”?  We’re always like, “Joss, do your career a favor and think bigger.  Reach higher.”  But he doesn’t listen.

We want to thank Jed and Maurissa for giving us a little insight into the upcoming DH series.  These are definitely two writers to keep your eyes on as they continue to build upon their impressive credits.  We’ll be watching Spartacus, and like most of the free world, be eagerly awaiting a follow-up to “Dr. Horrible.”  Can’t wait to see what projects are coming up next!

Follow us on twitter: Stacey – @TVStaceyLevin; Jason – @GoTodash.

A Day With Felicia

 Posted by on April 29, 2010
Apr 292010

Hey gang, Jason and Stacey here with a pop quiz for all of you internet savvy guys and gals out there. Who’s the one person every woman at a comic convention (who may or may not be wearing a costume that’s a little too tight for propriety) wants to be, and every carpal tunnel-suffering, ventrilo-chatting dude wants to date?  Well, it’s none other than the online sensation and “Whedon-verse” media darling, Felicia Day.  Stacey and I were fortunate enough (and by “fortunate enough,” I mean hounded until she finally gave in for pity’s sake) to sit down with the always congenial and extremely funny Ms. Day over mochas and blueberry muffins at “Milk” in West Hollywood where she regaled us with stories about “The Guild,” her new series from Dark Horse based on the award-winning webisode series.

Photo by: Bui Brothers

Q: Let’s talk about the evolution of “The Guild.”  Did it start simply as an actress vehicle, or were you in this because you had this idea to create a full on series?

A: No, I created it as an actor vehicle, ‘cause I wanted to write a part for me that no one would write in Hollywood or ever let me play.  Codex is kind of a geeky girl and she’s very introverted, everything you don’t see in T.V. unless it’s a very tangential character.  So, I just did it – really as an exercise.  I didn’t have any idea that it would ever get made.  I just had this idea that I would do it as a half-hour comedy because it’s a nice format. And it was just a sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished the end that it was worth the whole exercise, and the fact that anything happened after that is kind of a miracle.

Q: So you had no idea that you were tapping into this incredibly embroiled fan base that would just grab hold of this?

A:  Initially we did, but it became way more than that when we started production.  I’ve never produced anything before and it was so much fun.  We did everything… I would drive out to Sylmar at 7:00 am because someone posted they had free computer monitors, so it was me getting into the car to get that set dressing.  There’s a painting on Tink’s wall that, in fact, is a piece of wrapping paper ‘cause I wanted something colorful behind her head and I couldn’t afford to buy anything.  Even a print was too expensive because we were completely out of pocket.  So we bought a two dollar piece of wallpaper and then my boyfriend and I downloaded some tattoo art off the internet and drew it with a sharpie.  And still it’s the thing we use.  That’s just what it is if you don’t have any money and you just make it work.

Photo by: Angie Riemersma

Thankfully we have enough film making know-how: we were on set, so we knew the director’s experience; our experience as actors, and my co-producer Kim Evey had already done a bunch of web videos so she kind of had tips about how to make the video pop and make it more polished. Our combined small pieces of knowledge about filmmaking helped make it look more polished than the average web series at the time – this was just 2007 and people weren’t doing web series very much at all.  So then we just put it up, and I’m a very focused person, so it became this mission in life to get as many people to watch the thing ‘cause I really believed it was brilliant. Guess you have to believe your stuff is brilliant in order to go on.

Q: You’ve seemed to figure out something most major studios have yet to wrap their heads around, and you’ve already gotten a sponsor.  Have you figured out how to make The Guild profitable?  Did you promise to make money and then people jumped on board?

A: We are now able to make some money off “The Guild,” which is good because it’s been our 24/7 job for three years now and we’re just kind of getting there.  The first two episodes were out of our pocket, almost no money, and then we put a paypal button up because we couldn’t afford to do the show ourselves.  We were able to tap into a niche audience who was very passionate about our show and willing to donate five dollars in order to participate in the show.  From Indonesia, England, we had donors all over the world and it really brought a community together who were able to share in the pleasure of making a film together without having all of these layers of crap and junk.

So then we wanted to pay back our crew, because we didn’t pay them at first.  The donations just paid for cost, so we were like ‘let’s make a DVD.’  We had no clue about how to make a DVD, it’s too many processes for you and me to appreciate, but we had to do it on our own because we didn’t have money to pay people who knew what they were doing.  So we made a lot of mistakes, and we continue to make a lot of mistakes, but I have to say it is the most valuable way to learn.  And we‘ve learned a lot of things along the way:  we self-publish the DVD, we package them out of my kitchen – thousands of them and it was a horrible experience because order fulfillment was not what I got into, but that’s what we had to do.  We did have some volunteers come help us, but at the end of the day it was me and Kim doing all this stuff.

Photo by: Angie Riemersma

We did have a lot of studios and producers want the show after season one.  And the way Hollywood works is that you just add layers that would just soak up money in between.  We knew the internet better than they did, so we couldn’t see the value they would add, especially for the money they were offering us.  I was like: ‘so wait, let me get this straight.  You’re going to pay me not very much money to take my show and the property, and not even guarantee our attachment at this point, and you’re going to have creative input, but you don’t actually use the internet?’  I was very protective ‘cause I felt like this does not just belong to me, it belongs to everyone who donated to this show, too.

So we started doing season two on DVD money and before our cameras rolled, Microsoft came in and said, ‘We want this. We’re going to develop independent content and we’re ok with you owning it.’  They were able to bring Sprint on board as an overall sponsor when most studios at the time couldn’t get sponsorship attached to a webseries.  Now it’s more common, but it’s more branded entertainment.   This year Sprint is just saying basically ‘Presented by Sprint,’ which is the old T.V. model from the fifties.   I think it’s a testament to how their trust in us has grown.  Also, I think they’re smarter because people identify and see value in their product versus seeing their logo everywhere.

Q: When did you get the idea to expand from a web series to the video (“Do you want to Date my Avatar?” music video) and the comic book?

A: I would love to take credit like I’m some sort of visionary.  We usually owe an extra video, like a holiday video, for Microsoft.  It was twelve episodes and an extra video, that’s what they requested.  So I had to come up with an extra video and there was this weird timing issue where I didn’t know what to do as the extra video.  I got the idea when I was writing and listening to “Joyride” by Roxette.   And we had some scanned art sent in so we were really inspired by the fans.  We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we had our own Avatar costumes?’  And it just steam- rolled from there.  ‘Oh Jed [Whedon], do you want to do this with me?  I know you won’t because it’s too weird…’  And then he said yes!  I called him as a lark and asked him to direct because he had never directed anything before.  And it came out just brilliant!  So, every single step of the way that was something – I’ll release it here and here and here, and I’ll do this on the launch date… There was this list of things I wanted to do and hoped the fans would support and like it.  It’s all not an accident, there’s a lot of work that goes behind it, but it is sort of just following creative inspiration in a way that’s not allowed through traditional means.

With the comic, I knew Scott Allie [editor of The Guild] from working with Joss on “Dr. Horrible.”  He wanted to do a comic right away and I waited a year before I said yes because I didn’t have time and I didn’t think the show was developed enough to deserve a comic.   Then I came up with the idea, but I had no idea what I was getting into.  And that’s how Felicia operates.  Unless you do stuff that scares you, then you’re not pushing your limits and you’re not going to learn how to do new things.  So with the comic, it was this huge endeavor that I really didn’t know at the time since I put it off as much as I did. At the end I was extremely happy, but the process was much more challenging than I had imagined.  Now I respect comic book writers a hell of a lot more!

Q: How did you find your artist Jim Rugg?

Jim is great!  I met him through the “Penny” comic, and that was initially the reason why I wasn’t sure if we should use him.  I love his style, but was a little wary because he had already done me as Penny.  And then he sent some samples, as if he was looking through a webcam and I knew the style was completely different.   In my mind, the whole underlying tone is independent.  Some artists that had done demos for the book were too comedic for my taste.  And especially for this character – if I was going to do another character’s point of view, then a quirky or cartoony style might work better.  But for Sid specifically, I wanted to explore the real underlying emotions of why someone would get into finding satisfaction from an online community in a real way versus a real community.  She’s kind of a sad person, that’s her character, and I didn’t want to desecrate that by making everything so slapstick early on.  Jim’s indy style is just so perfect!  I’m very happy with the way they came out.

This seems to be a good place as any to take a break.  Don’t miss our next column for the second part of Felicia’s interview.  And since we know you don’t need any incentive ‘cause she’s so cool, it’s probably just a waste of our time to mention that we’ll be holding a contest for an autographed copy of “The Guild” #1. Be back next time for details on how to win!!!

Follow us on twitter: Jason -@GoTodash; Stacey – TVStaceyLevin

Mar 022010

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Meltdown Comics, Jason and Stacey are proud to present the winners of the first annual “Meltdown Comic Awards!”   And like our awards show brethren, the MCA’s do not disappoint in the statue department because each and every one of our illustrious winners will be the recipient of Meltdown’s very own version of a “No-Prize,” wait for it… that’s right, it’s a virtual “Golden Melty” award!  Woo hoo!  Yeah, we know what “virtual” means – the big budget version of these awards are still in the works.  But for the meantime, please welcome the “Golden Melty” to the awards show line up.

We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote in this year’s festivities.  All of the nominees were chosen from the Diamond Comic Distributors Top 100 Selling Books of 2009, but it takes real comic fans to be able to decide the winners.  And now, without further adieu, may we have the envelopes please?

(Click any of the pics below for a larger view.)

1. Best Indie Series: KICK-ASS (Icon)

What do you get when you cross an Eisner Award winning artist with the writer/creator of the bullet-dodging series “Wanted”?  You get one hell of a kick-ass title, that’s what you get.  (I wonder how many times that joke has been used.)  Seriously, if you haven’t read this funny, brutal, and somehow weirdly grounded (in a Tarantino sort of way) superhero story, I strongly recommend that you do – if only to say you’ve read the source material for the upcoming, sure-to-be-a-hit movie based on it.  John Romita Jr. and Mark Millar have given us a story founded in a question I think almost every kid asks themselves at some point in their childhood, myself included: “What if real people could be superheroes?”  It’s such a simple idea that it’s stupefying as to why someone hasn’t thought of it before.  Of course, there’ve been realistic-type superhero stories in the past, but Millar places his characters in a world which so closely mirrors our own, very little suspension of disbelief is required to be sucked in by the narrative.  Romita’s art is fully on par with that of his award-winning run on “Amazing Spiderman.”  The winner of “Best Indie Series” this year is entrenched with stereotypes and riddled with comic book clichés, but by the end of the first issue, you’re so sold on the concept, you could totally overlook an inexplicable appearance of say, Wolverine. (He’s in every book, right?)

2. Best Series: BATWOMAN – Detective Comics (DC)

For me, “Batwoman” winning this category is a no brainer!  The re-introduction of Kate Kane has been almost three years in the making as this series marks her first appearance since Detective Comics #52.  Well, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams did not disappoint.  With practically no history of Batwoman in place, Rucka was able to write this series as a clean slate and has successfully baited fans with each issue leaving them wanting more.  While the first few issues showed us what Batwoman, the superhero, can do and what formidable enemies she’ll be facing at every turn, the issues following gave us insight into what makes Kate Kane tick… and it ain’t a pretty picture.  She wears her “bat” like a badge of honor and her painful past is woven into every move she makes.  I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.  And I’m happy to see the Meltdown Comics readers agree.

3. Hero of the Year: GREEN LANTERN (DC)

For a superhero with arguably the silliest weakness (um, the color yellow, for crying out loud), the Green Lantern, or more notably Hal Jordan, has raced back from a third tier hero and title choice to become one of the most popular books on the shelves today.  All of this is due in large part to one man, Geoff Johns, writer of “Green Lantern: Rebirth” and his current brainchild “Blackest Night” which is going on in the D.C.U.  Over the past couple of years, Johns has flawlessly crafted Green Lantern into a cornerstone of the D.C. universe, and more often than not, written a must-have book beating the likes of  Batman and Superman, especially in recent story arc events.  So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Green Lantern is this year’s “Hero of the Year.”

4. Villain of the Year: NORMAN OSBORN (Marvel)

Originally created by Stan “The Man” Lee and Steve Ditko as an arch nemesis for the old web-head, Norman Osborn has been a main stay in the Spiderman cannon since 64’.  But it wasn’t until Warren Ellis’ run on the “Thunderbolts” followed by Brian Michael Bendis’ “Secret Invasion” event that Osborn was brought to the forefront of the Marvel universe as a heavy hitter.  Through his genius, albeit evil, machinations, Osborn has ended up effectively turning the Marvel universe on its head.  In the aftermath of the Secret Invasion, Osborn positioned himself into a seat of power orchestrating the downfall of all the heroes, while legitimizing any villain he could keep under his thumb. With the addition of a Stark Tech suit of armor, Osborn rules the country with an iron fist as the… well… Iron Patriot.  I can’t think of another more frightening, corrupt, all powerful C.E.O. to be our ‘Villain of the Year’ than him. (Well, with the exception of Martha Stewart, of course.)

5. Most Horrific Death: ARES – Head split in two with an axe – Wonder Woman #33 (DC)

I admittedly have never been much of a Wonder Woman fan, but according to Wikipedia Ares is “Based upon the Greek mythological figure of the same name, he is the God of War and the major adversary of Wonder Woman.  He first appeared in Wonder Woman #1, volume 1, published in the summer of 1942, written by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston.”  Apparently the character was changed to the Roman God of war Mars, and then recently back to the Greek version during a modern reboot of the title. Sounds to me as if Ares has been a bit of a thorn in Wonder Woman’s side since her inception, so I’m assuming he deserved the splitting headache he received from the Amazon.  So, since everyone seems to like a good bloody axe to the head, I give you the following picture for your sickly viewing pleasure, you twisted freaks you.

6. Best Return From The Dead: CAPTAIN AMERICA – Captain America: Reborn (Marvel)

The return of Steve Rogers has been three years in the making and thank God, because Captain America has been a favorite character of mine since I was a kid.  Not that Bucky Barnes sucked as Cap because he doesn’t, but the return of Steve Rogers was always the plan.  So why the wait?  Why the grand re-introduction?  The “Reborn” series has given Marvel the chance to initiate a whole new audience to Captain America and educate them on who Steve Rogers is, how he came to be the original Captain and what makes him a hero.  With the current set-up of having two Captains, there’s so much more story to tell and “Reborn” is a unique way of telling it.  I’m thrilled to see Steve back from the dead and really grateful he’s not all zombied out.  Whew.

7. Best Cover: SCALPED #30 – Cover by Mark “Jock” Simpson (Vertigo)

Ok, here’s the truth – I haven’t read most of the Scalped issues and I still think this is one of the coolest, most haunted covers ever.  Glad to see you all agree.  Using muted colors and grey tones gives this art a creepy tone reminiscent of classic horror movie posters – especially with the one bright splash of red to emphasize the brutality of this intense crime story.  And without featuring any of the main characters or any of the series’ core story points, Jock’s disturbing imagery gives way for the readers’ imagination to run away with ideas of what’s to come.

8. Best Spin Off Series: BATMAN & ROBIN – by Grant Morrison (DC)

The Dynamic Duo is back! … well, sort-of.  It’s not quite the Batman and Robin you grew up with, nor the Caped Crusaders everyone has been used to for the past 70-odd years. With Bruce dead, the mantle of the Bat has finally been passed to its rightful heir, Dick Grayson, the first Robin.  Robin, you don’t say?  “Just who is that young upstart” you ask?  Well, it’s none other than Damien Wayne, the offspring of Bruce Wayne and Ra’s ah Ghul’s daughter Talia. (He must have forgotten to use the Bat-condom).  With so much history behind these two characters, it’s hard to come up with original ideas to keep it fresh, but Grant Morrison takes his time to hit a number of familiar Batman notes (a brand spanking new flying Batmobile, for one) and subtly spotlight what makes this duo different from previous incarnations. Whether we’re watching Dick’s unique style of fighting compared to Bruce’s, his hesitance to step into his mentor’s shoes, Damien’s eagerness to prove himself as his father’s rightful replacement, or the different ways each hero interacts with the ever dependable Alfred, Morrison conveys each personality with a beautiful level of emotional depth.  The series is not quite as highbrow as previous Morrison projects, but that’s also one of the many aspects of “B&R” that makes it such a fun read.  With that said, I suggest you sit back and enjoy the “SMACK,” “BAM”, and “KA-POW”-filled ride as you watch these two high-kicking detectives wipe the floor with some of Gotham’s worst in what has been deemed the “Best Spin Off Series of the Year.”

9. Coolest Costume: BATWOMAN – J. H. Williams III (DC)

Again, no surprise that I’m the one doing this write up since, well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a little obsessed with the coolness that is Batwoman.  The lady kicks ass and that’s the bottom line.  Now she has a costume to match the ‘tude.  While the basic design of the costume hasn’t changed, the updates and additions all have a specific and important purpose.  For example, her belt is no longer loose fitting and contains pouches to conceal weapons; her mask wraps all the way around her head and fits snugly under her hair to offer more protection; her bracer points detach and can become weapons.  That’s all practical and great, but, ok, I’m going to be a typical girl for a minute and talk about how much I love the look and color.  OMG, people!  (You must read that with a “valley girl” accent.)  I love the striking red emblem, boots and cape that match her fiery red hair… even if some of it is a wig because Kate’s hair is on the shorter side these days.  I’m also digging the sharp edges of her cape and arm braces – this chick means business.  And, as I learned from J.H. Williams’ style sheet, the cape comes to five points at the bottom which form a “clearly stylized red bat design when completely unfurled.”  One word: awesome.

10. Best Graphic Novel: ASTERIOS POLYP – by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)

The story of an aging architect, Asterios, who witnesses all of his worldly possessions go up in a puff of smoke after a freak lightening strike burns down his building, is honestly the most emotionally introspective story I read all year.  After losing all he owns, our self possessed protagonist takes a random job in a small town as an auto mechanic while exploring his past, which includes his childhood (several scenes are narrated by his stillborn twin brother, Ignazio), the slow dissolution of his marriage, and his need for redemption.  David Mazzucchelli, best known for the critically-acclaimed “Daredevil: Born Again” story arc, masterfully uses expressionist techniques to invest every panel with added depth and emotion that raises this book from the halls of ‘comicdom’ to that of high art.  If you haven’t read the best graphic novel of the year, “Asterios Polyp,” what are you waiting for?

11. Best Writer: BRIAN K. VAUGHAN – Ex Machina (Vertigo)

As a born and raised New Yorker, “Ex Machina” has always struck a cord with me, and I have Vaughan’s exemplary storytelling skills to thank for it.  Few writers have the ability to take a life altering event like 9/11 and make it an acceptable backdrop for a compelling and topical story like “Ex Machina,” but Vaughan has done just that in his creation of Mitchell Hundred.  As his alter ego, the superhero Great Machine, Hundred saves the second tower from crumbling on that fateful morning when terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers.  After a daring rescue like that, he finds the race to the Mayor of New York’s office an easy one.  Now serving in the job, Hundred is faced with balancing his new role in politics with his old one as Great Machine which seems to have been a blessing and a curse at the same time.  Vaughan artfully uses the medium of comics to tackle current issues like gay marriage, racial profiling, and drug legalization in a post 9/11 world where everyone’s perception of what is safe and true has been changed forever.  If only we could vote for Mayor Hundred in the real world…

12. Best Artist: JOHN CASSADAY – Planetary (Wildstorm); Astonishing X-men (Marvel)

Former Eisner winner for both “Planetary” and “Astonishing X-Men,” Cassaday is the rock star among comic book artists.  Few artists are as versatile as Cassaday who manages to inject his own style into every drawing while still evoking the classic look and feel of the time honored characters he’s drawing.  Cassaday’s “Planetary” journey with Warren Ellis has been years in the making and finally came to a close with a much anticipated bang in issue #27.  Although he’s recently concentrated on cover art, Cassaday made a rare return to interior art for the close of the series and did not disappoint with his stunning visual homage to past issues in both the style of the characters and use of colors.  And Cassaday’s continuing partnership with Joss Whedon on “Astonishing X-Men” has produced some of the coolest renditions of comics’ most iconic characters like Wolverine.  Now that he’s turned his artistic eye to the screen, who knows what’s in store for one of the best comic artists of our time.

13. Best Celebrity Made TitleJOSS WHEDON – Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight (Dark Horse)

Ok, I’m a little biased when it comes to all things Joss and Buffy because I’ve had the privilege of knowing Joss for years through work and was the publicist for the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” television series.  In my eyes, Joss is a genius and he can do no wrong, and the comic series by Dark Horse is no exception.  But forget about my professional ties to Buffy, as a loyal viewer who watched long before ever working on it, I’m still mourning the loss of that series.  Thank God the good peeps at Darkhorse were as well and saw the brilliance of continuing it through comics.  “Season Eight” is just that – the next season of the series that picks up where the show left off.  Under Joss’ supervision and with him writing so many of the individual issues, the “Buffy” comics are a perfect complement to the show in style, tone and storyline.  And further bolstering the comic series are all of the “Buffy” series writers who have written issues along the way including Jane Espenson, Drew Greenburg, Doug Petrie, Drew Goddard and Steven DeKnight.  When season seven ended, Buffy put into motion several things that would have consequences down the line and “Season Eight” has been all about showing them.  At the heart of every issue and arc still lies the angst Buffy and her friends carry with them while they’re charged with having to save the world over and over again.  In a way that only Joss can, he weaves that angst and the very real feelings behind it into the fantastical world Buffy lives in where slaying vampires and mutilating monsters is, like, totally normal.  And what gives the comics an edge over their television brethren is that there’s no limit to the imagination… nor the  budget so Joss can now afford to create an even more expansive sandbox for the Scooby gang to play in.

14. Best Event of the Year: DARK REIGN (Marvel)

Cap’s dead, Tony Stark is an invalid, the Green Goblin is the head of the Avengers, and all of the world’s heroes are on the run as outlaws.  Sounds like an issue of “What If?”, right?  But it’s actually the current reality going on at Marvel with their ongoing “Dark Reign” event.  After the Superhero Registration Act sets off the Civil War, and with the shocking conclusion to the Secret Invasion, we saw a huge shake-up in the Marvel Universe.  In broad strokes, for those of you who haven’t been keeping up, “Dark Reign” is about Norman Osborn’s (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) rise to power as Tony Stark’s replacement as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (an espionage and law-enforcement agency) which Osborn immediately disbands to create his own organization H.A.M.M.E.R.  Through his actions, and his reputation as the villainous Green Goblin, a number of outlawed heroes decide to take Osborn down, by force if necessary.  I, for one, like the change in the status quo, and apparently all of you do as well.  Should be every interesting to see how this all plays out, but with the recent resurrection of Captain America, I think we’re soon about to witness the end of our favorite event of the year.  And that leads us to our last category….

15. Best W.T.F. Moment of the Year: CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN

Not really much to say here.  Anyone that reads Marvel on any kind of regular basis will know what I’m talking about when I say that ‘the guy’ was running around in four different titles before he was actually resurrected.  I know all about deadlines and push backs, scheduling conflicts, etc, but come on… how do you drop the ball on bringing back your flagship (pun intended) character?  I think I even saw him in the swan hatch on “Lost” before the last issue of “Captain America: Reborn” hit the stands.  *sigh*

And that concludes the list of winners for the first annual Meltdown Comic Awards compiled from votes we received posted to the website and through tweets and emails.  Yes, folks, extremely scientific.  Next year we’ll be bringing on the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche (not really) to secretly count the votes as well as expand to paper ballots in the store and in the weekly pulls (that one is true.)  And, as if our amazing commentary wasn’t enough (wink, wink), stay tuned for some expert analysis from Meltdown’s own staffers.  Now, Stacey and Jason would like to thank the following for making the MCA’s possible: well, God, of course, ‘cause there always has to be some “God” in a thank you speech; the guys at Meltdown for – well, that’s an obvious one, right?; Melty, for so graciously agreeing to his new gold-tone attire; all of the tweeters who tweeted the hell out of these awards; James Cameron, just cause he was nominated a gazillion times this season, so what the hell; um, sniff, hang on, we’re getting a little teary here…  no, wait, don’t start the music yet! —

Follow us on twitter: Jason -@GoTodash; Stacey – TVStaceyLevin