Four Letter Nerd

Author - Cam Clark

4LN Advanced Comic Review – Bloodshot Reborn #14 (New Arc)

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Series: BLOODSHOT REBORN
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

ALL-NEW ARC! ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! Welcome to “BLOODSHOT ISLAND”!

Stranded on a mysterious desert island, Bloodshot is running for his life! But as he tries to make sense of his surroundings, he’s quickly discovering that this is no ordinary tropical getaway… Surrounded by decommissioned relics of the same bloodstained project that created him – World War II Bloodshot, Cold War Bloodshot, Vietnam Bloodshot, and other antiquated experiments – Bloodshot is about to find out where Project Rising Spirit sends it old soldiers to die. Can this seasoned band of killers trust each other long enough to survive the threats that lie in the jungle around them…and unlock the secret at the heart of the island’s existence before they’re each permanently retired? And who or what is the sinister force called DEATHMATE that now hunts them at every turn?

This summer, superstar creators Jeff Lemire (Extraordinary X-Men) and Mico Suayan (BLOODSHOT REBORN) send Bloodshot screaming into his most action-packed adventure yet as “BLOODSHOT ISLAND” ups the ante for the Valiant Universe’s most formidable soldier!

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This book has been on almost every Valiant fan’s radar since they announced it a while back.  They teased us with images of more Bloodshots (one looking like a mix between Bloodshot and Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder) which was like throwing chum in the water for fans.  Needless to say there was a lot of hype leading up to this book.  For many people, that much hype can lead to unrealistic expectations and ultimately being let down by the very thing that you loved most….  Was that too much?  Anyway, worry not Jeff Lemire and Co. will not let you down.  This book is phenomenal.  What follows is a spoiler-free look at BLOODSHOT REBORN #14 “BLOODSHOT ISLAND.”

As you might have guess by the description above, this plot is reminiscent of The Most Dangerous Game… except exponentially more dangerous because there is a mysterious new character that shares a name with a particularly infamous crossover event from the 90’s, and she’s powerful enough to hunt multiple Bloodshots.

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Yes, as shown in the previews, BLOODSHOT ISLAND is full of multiple Bloodshots that hail from multiple periods of conflict (Vietnam, Gulf War, etc), and they have their own canine side-kick appropriately named Bloodhound (before reading this issue, I was hoping that was the name of the dog… that or Bloodspot).  And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

Jeff Lemire is setting up a plot that is brilliant as it is terrifying.  This particular issue plays out like a science-fiction, horror film, with a some mind-blowing action sequences beautifully illustrated by the talented Mico Suayan.  His art is insanely good.  Every panel is packed with detail, and all of the character designs are perfect.  I was kind of worried because on the cover, the villain has ENORMOUS hands.  Luckily within these pages, her design is great, and seeing her in action is awe inspiring.  Mico also treates us to a two page splash where we get our first look at the Squad and it is is mesmerizing!

I was fortunate enough to read this book early, but I still can’t wait for Wednesday so I can see how it looks on the actual page.  For new readers, this is a good jumping, but be warned – Valiant is addicting.  BLOODSHOT REBORN #14 is a mind-bending 5 out of 5, and needs to be in your hands this Wednesday.

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4LN Comic Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation #1 (of 5)

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Series: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation
Writer: Chuck Wendig
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology:

It’s true—all of it! The biggest movie of the year jumps from the big screen to the comic book page! It’s been three decades since the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star and toppled the Galactic Empire…but now, on the remote planet of Jakku…there is a stirring in the Force. A young scavenger named Rey…a deserting stormtrooper named Finn…an ace pilot name Poe…and a dark apprentice named Kylo Ren…Their lives are about to collide as the awakening begins.

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When I was a kid, my dad took me to a comic book shop in Nashville.  It was an awesome store on Broadway that was full of old comics, records, collectibles, and all sorts of riff-raff.  While I was digging through the long boxes (not really sure what I was doing), I happened upon a random copy of Marvel’s official comic adaptation of “Return of the Jedi.”  I was so excited that I had bought a piece of the story with my own allowance.  Come to think of it, that might have been my first comic book purchase.  This was in my formative fanboy years of my love for Star Wars, and I read through that part of the story multiple times, just reliving the movie (which I could’ve easily just watched on VHS).

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Personally, that is one thing that drew me to this book.  It was like reliving that moment when I was eight digging through boxes, but I also enjoy what this book is.  It allows the reader to view one of their favorite stories in a different medium.  It lets you linger on an image, flip back and forth, and just absorb more than you would simply watching the film with a group of friends.  Trust me, people get really annoyed when you skip back a few scenes to catch a piece of dialogue again.  I did the same thing with the book adaptation.  You just catch different things viewing a story from a different perspective.

All of that baggage aside, this book is solid in its own right.  It’s written by Chuck Wendig, who previously penned Star Wars: Aftermath – a novel that was a part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens.”  I wasn’t a huge fan of his brusque style in Aftermath.  Don’t get me wrong, his writing is great, as was the story, it just wasn’t my particular taste.  That being said, his ability to give a lot of information if very few words works out well in this book.

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Since this is an adaptation it is basically the key moments of The Force Awakens, with minimal introductions by the writer.  His main job is making sure the lines from the movie make a good transition from screen to panel, and it matches up perfectly.  This particular issue starts with Poe on Jakku kneeling before Kylo Ren, and ends right before the heroes jump in the Millennium Falcon to escape the planet.

One thing that really stood out to me was Frank Martin’s color art.  They are just so vibrant and really pop off the page.  Luke Ross’ characters match their onscreen counterparts.  It did seem that sometimes the artist paid more attention to the details in the environment and vehicles than he did the characters faces, which leads to some of the panels having simplistic caricatures, but overall he is spot on.  Another thing I noticed is that Hux is depicted as a little more manly than Mr. Weasley portrays him, not that it matters either way, he just has a more intimidating presence under the hand of Luke Ross than in the film.  Oh, and can we just talk about how awesome Esad Ribic’s cover is?  Sweet Maker, that thing is pretty.

Like I said earlier, this book will appeal to fans of the film, Star Wars in general, and comic lovers.  It is always fun to see something in a different art form, and this book didn’t feel like a cheap adaptation for a quick buck.  They took their time, really found the meat of the story, and adapted it to a new medium.  I give this book 4 and a half severed limbs out of 5.  Make sure you head down to your shop and grab yours today!

 

Music Pairing: The Force Awakens Official Soundtrack

Or at least the first part of it.

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Chance Butler, Valiant Cover Artist

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If you haven’t been reading Valiant’s 4001 A.D. event, you really need to. It has been spectacular thus far, and the hits just keep on coming.  Each main issue has a plethora of fantastic covers, and one in particular has been gaining some attention.  I am speaking, of course, about the 4001 A.D. Action Figure variants designed by our good pal Chance Butler from ComicCollectorLive.com.  We were lucky enough to sit down with Chance to talk about where he gets his love of comics, what it’s like to have his cover art published by Valiant Comics, and what goes into creating the fantastic Action Figure variants.  Enjoy!

 

4LN – When did you first get into comics?

Chance Butler – Well, my dad has always been a collector so it was pretty much decided for me at birth! Before I could read I would flip through his Amazing Spider-Man collection and look at the pictures. I always thought it was interesting. As I got older I started reading and started collecting my own comics. I really liked to collect Ben Reilly when I was young… I think it was that sweet costume.

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4001 A.D. #1 CCL Variant

 

4LN – Do you recall any specific moment that you realized you had a talent for art?

CB – I do actually! I remember grabbing a Star Wars coloring book and a blank sheet of paper and trying to draw Yoda just like the coloring book had him printed. I finished my (somewhat crude but good for a 6 year old) Yoda drawing and proudly presented it to my parents who then hung it up on the fridge for everyone to admire (pretend to like).

4LN – Was comic book art something you were always interested in doing?

CB – Well, as I got older comics stuck with me. I would spend my time in school doodling superheroes and working on anatomy instead of paying attention. That didn’t really help my game in high school much. Turns out girls don’t like drawings of Spider-Man… but now I’m just rambling.

I certainly loved drawing comic characters. I never really anticipated being able to draw for an actual publisher, it was just something I did in my free time. I always wanted to be a graphic designer so it was really cool to get to do these action figure variants. I got to kind of merge my graphic design and art skills.

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4001 A.D. #2 CCL Variant

 

4LN – The covers you’ve designed for the Comic Collector Live variants of Valiant Comics’ “4001 A.D.” are the first time you’ve worked with a major publisher. What has that experience been like for you?

CB – It’s definitely been a positive experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that Comic Collector Live gave me. Working with Valiant is awesome, they’re a bunch of geeks and you can tell they really care about their fans and the content they produce. Discussing ideas with them is very akin to a bunch of guys sitting in a living room eating pizza and talking about how awesome it would be for X-O Manowar to be a deluxe giant sized figure in a big box. And then someone’s mom walks in and asks us to please put our drinks on coasters for like, the fourth time. And she just stands there while we remain silent because we don’t want her to call us lame for talking about action figures. At least that’s how I imagined it in my head when we were emailing back and forth.

4LN – What kind of effort has gone into designing the covers? Have you had to re-familiarize yourself with any of the Valiant characters for inspiration?

CB – The covers are a two-step process really. Half of it is trying to create a realistic looking action figure box, and the other half is producing the art to go in/on that box. The most effort goes into the portraits. I learned something new with each one, and this fourth one sure is puuurty!

You know, I’ve been a big Rai fan for a while now so I was pretty confident with him as the first cover, but X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and Eternal Warrior are new to me! I enjoyed researching the characters and learning their quirks. I have to say, since doing these covers I have become a pretty big Bloodshot fan!

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4001 A.D. #3 CCL Variant

 

4LN – Two of your “4001 A.D.” covers are officially out, the third one will drop in July, and the final cover will hit comic shop stands in August. Do you have other work on the horizon we should be on the lookout for?

At the moment, no. But I don’t think you’ll be seeing the last of me just yet! Do keep an eye out for my ad for Comic Collector Live. It’s in every DC title for the month of June!

 

Lightning Round:

4LN – What is your favorite single issue of a comic?

CB – Uncanny X-Force 35. That whole run was great but that one issue gets me.

4LN – What is your dream mode of transportation?

CB -Flight! But not the lame plane kind, the cool “I have wings” kind!

4LN – What’s your favorite way to kill time?

CB -PC gaming!

4LN – Star Wars or Star Trek?

CB -Star Trek. The Holodeck is way too cool for this world.

4LN – Finally, if you could own any movie prop, what would it be?

CB – Gotta go with the Deadpool movie mask. Animated eyes and all.

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4001 A.D. #4 CCL Variant

 

I’d like to personally thank Chance for taking the time to chat with us.  You can find his Action Figure variants here!

Comic Bento: Is It Worth It? (+ Unboxing Video!)

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If you are anything like me, which you would have to be for this generalization to work, you might occasionally see an advertisement on Facebook for a subscription service called Comic Bento.  For $20 plus shipping and handling (less if you get the three-month or twelve month plans), Comic Bento provides an assortment of graphic novels that revolve around a certain theme.  This boxes theme is “Rewriting History.”  Below we will list out the items we got in the box, and the price you can purchase them for on Amazon.

Mankind: The Story of All of Us – $14.99

Writer: Various  Artist: Various

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I like watching the History Channel, especially when I am laying in bed at night.  MANKIND: THE STORY OF ALL OF US is a series of short stories detailing major events in human history from post-Ice Age through the Crusades.

Summary from Comixology: “From the producers of America the Story of Us comes the epic tale of the rise of civilization. The 12-hour series spans the first flourishing of civilization in Mesopotamia through the discovery of America. Groundbreaking production techniques bring to life the greatest landmarks and milestones of human achievement. CGI rebuilds lost worlds; large scale reenactments replay critical battles; innovative use of interactive maps dynamically illustrates the key factors that gave rise to civilization across the globe. MANKIND: The Story of All of Us emphasizes the simultaneity of the human adventure — how ancient Egypt thrived while Stonehenge was being built; China was at its zenith while Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages. HISTORY captures the danger, action, struggle, heroism, and adrenaline of MANKIND: The Story of All of Us!”

 

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol Volume 1 – $16.46

Writer: Stuart Jennett  Artist: Stuart Jennett

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The back of this book shows Albert Einstein firing a machine gun, and flipping through I saw a dinosaur eating what looked like Nazi’s.  Sold.

Summary from Comixology: “Nazis, dinosaurs, and a war for all time!

When the Nazis develop time travel technology, only the Sarge and his misfit band of Chronos Commandos can stand against them – with the Cretaceous as their battleground!

Fearsome raptors, giant spiders, and a towering Nazi nemesis: the commandos face many foes in the fight for the future. The body count is high – and few will make it back alive!

This collection of the stunning first series is packed with exclusive features – including declassified files, unseen sketches, and blueprints.”

 

Ivar, Timewalker Volume 1 – $9.99

Writer: Fred Van Lente  Artist: Clayton Henry

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This is a fantastic series.  It’s definitely my favorite out of the books in this box.  Make sure to check out our interview with Mr. Van Lente about his work on IVAR, TIMEWALKER and ARCHER & ARMSTRONG.

Summary from Comixology: “From the dawn of the dinosaurs…to the Battle of Trafalgar…to the end of time itself…the first century-spanning adventure of IVAR, TIMEWALKER starts here!

At this very moment in Geneva, Switzerland, history is being made. A thousand meters underground inside the Large Hadron Collider, researcher Neela Sethi is about to discover time travel – and jeopardize her life in the process. But she doesn’t know that yet. Ten minutes from now, every deadbeat chrononaut, wannabe conqueror, and misguided protector of the timestream will be banging down her door. Good thing that the legendary Ivar, Timewalker, got there first… right? Now it’s down to history’s most jaded, most tempestuous time traveler to stop the worst of everything that is, was, and will be… before time runs out!

New York Times best-selling creators Fred Van Lente (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, Amazing Spider-Man) and Clayton Henry (HARBINGER, Incredible Hercules) begin a clock-stopping odyssey into the distant past, far future, and every moment in between right here with the first volume of Valiant’s latest epic – intro-priced at just $9.99 for new readers!”

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past – $12.09

Writer: Chris Clairemont  Artist: John Byrne

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This is probably the biggest book in the box.  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is a classic that has been around since the Reagan administration.  Summary from Comixology: “Collects Uncanny X-Men #138-143. Re-live the legendary first journey into the dystopian future of 2013 – where Sentinels stalk the Earth, and the X-Men are humanity’s only hope…until they die! Also featuring an appearance by Alpha Flight and the return of the Wendigo.”

Well there you have it.  For $20 plus shipping and handling you get over $40 worth of books, so financially it is worth it.  Here’s the thing, I know that you can do a lot of leg work, hit a bunch of comic stores, and probably walk away with the same four books at about the same price, but that’s not what makes subscription boxes so fun.  The biggest selling point of the Comic Bento service is the randomness of the books provided.  It’s a lot of fun opening the box and seeing what books they curated for you.  Make sure to check out our unboxing video below!

4LN Comic Review – 4001 A.D.: Bloodshot

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Series: 4001 A.D.: Bloodshot
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doug Braithwaite, with Brian Reber on Colors
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

“Once upon a time…in the year 4001 A.D…

Centuries ago, Bloodshot was the man called Ray Garrison. Now, in the year 4001 A.D., Ray Garrison is no more…but the nanites that once thrived inside him endure still. With their master long since gone, the microscopic machines that once drove Bloodshot through every firefight, healed every wound, and calculated every outcome have one final directive left to execute…but what could it possibly be? And how will the forces of the future react when the infamous man-turned-machine called Bloodshot returns to fight another day?

The future starts now as New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) bring Bloodshot barreling into the 41st century of the Valiant Universe with an all-new, standalone tale at the epicenter of 4001 A.D.!”

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Overview:  The 4001 A.D. event has been incredible thus far.  If there is one thing Valiant knows, it’s how to pull off a great summer event, that is neither contrived or money grabbing.  Lemire’s 400l A.D. BLOODSHOT continues this tradition.

I’m not going to lie, when I first saw the new look for Bloodshot I was a little hesitant.  The amorphous, nanite body with the Bloodshot head seemed a little far-fetched, even in a world with timewalkers, hive-mind aliens, and beings with the power to manipulate time, space, and matter.  After reading it though, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cool.  Lemire’s story is great, frequently pulling scenes directly out his work on BLOODSHOT REBORN and last years BOOK OF DEATH: FALL OF BLOODSHOT book, and even providing a sense of closure after what happened at the end of FALL OF BLOODSHOT.  As far as the art is concerned, Doug Brathwaite and Brian Reber pull off some KILLER panels throughout the course of this book.  There were several pages where I just stared at the page taking in every little detail – and there is a LOT of detail.

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Bloodshot is just such a cool character, possibly even one of the greatest in Valiant’s pantheon of heroes, and Lemire has him dialed in.  His stories are frequently introspective, which is hard to pull off with a character who’s primary purpose is murdering people to death in a variety of ways.  His run on BLOODSHOT REBORN shows us a more subdued Ray Garrison, who is still trying to find his place, and 4001 A.D.: BLOODSHOT gives this fantastic hero both closure, and a possible new beginning.

If you are a fan of Bloodshot, sci-fi, or stories about artificial intelligence, then this is the book for you.  Not that it is a contest, but I liked this one-shot even better than X-O Manowar’s, and that book was also fantastic in its own right.  Make sure you head over to a comic shop (or Comixology if you prefer digital comics) and pick up 4001 A.D.: BLOODSHOT (out June 8), as well as the rest of the 4001 A.D. event books.

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The Valiant Summit 2016

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From Valiant Comics:

As revealed today during the #ValiantSummit 2016 event live from New York City’s renowned UCB Theatre, Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” – an all-new wave of ongoing series, prestige format projects and standalone events from a star-studded roster of some of comics’ most visionary talents. Beginning in July with the first, much-demanded ongoing series for the breakout hero of the year, FAITH, “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” will extend throughout 2016 with a total of seven epic series – each introducing an innovative array of new concepts and characters…and firmly establishing Valiant’s place as the premier publisher of creative storytelling in comics today:
  • FAITH #1 by Jody Houser, Pere Perez & Marguerite Sauvage in July
  • GENERATION ZERO #1 by Fred Van Lente & Francis Portela in August
  • BRITANNIA #1 (of 4) by Peter Milligan & Juan Jose Ryp in September
  • BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4) by Jeff Lemire & Doug Braithwaite in October
  • HARBINGER RENEGADES #1 by Rafer Roberts & Darick Roberston in November
  • SAVAGE #1 (of 4) by B. Clay Moore, Clayton Henry & Lewis LaRosa in November
  • DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE #1 (of 4) by Matt Kindt & Trevor Hairsine in December

“With ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ Valiant is entering an ambitious new phase – one that will challenge not only the size and scale of the stories we choose to tell, but even the very notion of what a Valiant comic can be,” said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “In just a short time, Valiant has established itself as the industry’s best reviewed publisher and a creative force to be reckoned with. Now, with ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ we’re taking the mission of creating the best comics possible even further, and expanding with astonishing new concepts, a bold line-up of new characters, and one of the most talented rosters of creative talent working anywhere today.”

“Within the past year alone, Valiant has made unprecedented strides by bringing some of comics’ most celebrated characters to the fore. But DIVINITY and FAITH were just the first salvos,” said Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons. “In ‘THE FUTURE OF VALIANT,’ we’re about to witness the next great Valiant heroes of tomorrow come roaring out of the gate with GENERATION ZERO, BRITANNIA, and SAVAGE. And we haven’t even revealed the full extent of what’s coming for BLOODSHOT U.S.A. and HARBINGER RENEGADES, let alone the universe of new ideas that is DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE… For new fans or old, this is a phenomenal time to find out why Valiant has succeeded in building the most acclaimed and accessible line of comics on the shelves.”

Rewatch all of “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT” announcements on Twitch HERE with an exclusive live stream of today’s #ValiantSummit 2016 event, or find complete details on each series individually below:

FAITH #1
Written by JODY HOUSER
Art by PERE PEREZ and MARGUERITE SAUVAGE
Cover by KEVIN WADA
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING JULY 2016

AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! The high-flying hero that captured the imagination of the world is back with a colossal new comics milestone!In a city under siege by robots, aliens, monsters and even worse… celebrities, there is only one woman the people of Los Angeles can count on: the stratospheric superhero called Faith! Aspiring reporter by day and dedicated crime-fighter by night, Faith has tackled every obstacle in her path with confidence – like those crushing deadlines at work, the long-distance boyfriend half a world away, and the missing back issues that plague her comics collection! But, unbeknownst to her, Faith is about to collide with the one force she never saw coming: an up-and-coming super-villain bent on snuffing her out once and for all! But who is lurking behind the mask of her new foe…and could they just be the one person capable of rendering Faith powerless?

Jump on board now to find out why Valiant’s one-of-a-kind hero is inspiring a whole new generation! Be here as FAITH moves from her sold-out mini-series…and into the history-making debut of her first-ever ongoing series!

GENERATION ZERO #1
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA
Cover by STEPHEN MOONEY
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING AUGUST 2016

Because you demanded it! Exploding out of the pages of HARBINGER WARS comes AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES starring GENERATION ZERO from New York Times best-selling writer Fred Van Lente (IVAR, TIMEWALKER) and blockbuster artist Francis Portela (FAITH)!If you have a problem… If your parents won’t help… And if your cause is worthy… Log onto network #ZERO…because Generation Zero is listening.

Years ago, the children of the experimental strike team known as Generation Zero were taken from their families by Project Rising Spirit, a private weapons contractor, and raised to be psychic soldiers. After years of taking orders, they have fought for and won their freedom. Now, the world’s most wanted teenagers have pledged to protect each other tooth and claw, while using their extraordinary abilities to right wrongs for a generation without a future… To fight for kids, just like them.

One of those kids is Keisha Sherman, whose boyfriend just turned up dead after a suspicious car crash in Rook, Michigan – a newly booming tech town that sprang from rags to super-riches seemingly overnight. When Keisha makes a desperate plea into her webcam, the local high school suddenly finds itself with several unusual new students… But as word of Generation Zero’s presence spreads rapidly through the halls, this volatile band of teenage upstarts is about to discover that they’re far from the most extraordinary thing lurking behind Rook’s stainless-steel facade..


BRITANNIA #1 (of 4)
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by JUAN JOSE RYP
Cover by CARY NORD
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 2016

On the fringes of civilization, the world’s first detective is about to make an unholy discovery…Ruled by the Fates. Manipulated by the Gods. Commanded by Caesar. In the year 65 A.D., one’s destiny was not his own. At the height of Nero’s reign, a veteran of Rome’s imperial war machine has been dispatched to the farthest reaches of the colonies to investigate unnatural happenings… In the remote outpost of Britannia, Antonius Axia – the First Detective – will become Rome’s only hope to reassert control over the empire’s most barbaric frontier…and keep the monsters that bridge the line between myth and mystery at bay…

From comics mastermind Peter Milligan (X-Statix, Shade the Changing Man) and incendiary artist Juan Jose Ryp (NINJAK, Clone) comes a psychological journey into terror, temptation, and bloodshed – presented in an all-new prestige format limited series!

BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4)
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover by KANO
STANDALONE EVENT SERIES | BEGINNING OCTOBER 2016

In Bloodshot we trust! Project Rising Spirit – America’s greatest exporter of classified weapons technology – has achieved a breakthrough: a contagious, airborne nanite dispersion prototype that can turn the population of any city into an army of indestructible soldiers. A doomsday virus capable of destroying an enemy nation from the inside out. A machine-made pathogen that can completely rewrite human physiology…and hardcode every man, woman, and child with the same cutting-edge technology that created their greatest weapon: Bloodshot.

But now…Project Rising Spirit’s top-secret contagion has been released onto the streets of America’s greatest metropolis: New York City. As mayhem engulfs Manhattan, Bloodshot must lead the most dangerous invasion ever waged on American soil and keep a runaway pandemic from toppling armies and governments…and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

In the tradition of THE VALIANT, the Big Apple turns blood red in pivotal new standalone comics event from New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN, Extraordinary X-Men) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS, Justice)!

HARBINGER RENEGADES #1
Written by RAFER ROBERTS
Art & Cover by DARICK ROBERTSON
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING NOVEMBER 2016

Anyone you know could become a psionically powered “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. Your neighbor. Your boss. Your best friend. Your kids. Six months ago, a secret team of renegade whistleblowers leaked the existence of these extraordinarily dangerous individuals to a stunned world. Today, all across the country, crude, DIY psiot activation attempts have left hundreds brain damaged…or worse. The emergence of a new psiot in a community often leads to riots and mass violence. Gun sales are through the roof.

America is terrified of what could happen next.

With this revolutionary upheaval now in motion, Kris Hathaway, John “Torque” Torkelson, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Peter Stanchek are about to discover their calling. Together, the HARBINGER RENEGADES are moving from town to town, building their ranks, and subverting authority one mind at a time…and setting out to prove once and for all that behind their power, there has always been a purpose.

This November, the most fearless superteam in comics is going underground for AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES from rising star Rafer Roberts (A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (Happy!, The Boys)!

SAVAGE #1 (of 4)
Written by B. CLAY MOORE
Art by CLAYTON HENRY and LEWIS LAROSA
Cover by LEWIS LAROSA
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING NOVEMBER 2016

Fifteen years ago, the world’s most famous soccer star and his former supermodel wife – pregnant with their unborn child – disappeared without a trace. The world believes they are dead… But, in reality, their private jet crash-landed on a mysterious, unknown island ruled by by prehistoric creatures from another time…This is the story of how they lost their humanity.

This November, acclaimed writer B. Clay Moore (Hawaiian Dick) and explosive artists Clayton Henry (HARBINGER WARS) and Lewis LaRosa (BLOODSHOT REBORN) present a relentless epic of survival in a cold-blooded land ruled by instinct alone as SAVAGE makes his brutal entrance into the Valiant Universe!


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Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
Cover by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING DECEMBER 2016
Earth has a new god. The world you know is gone. Welcome to the Stalinverse, comrade.
So there you have it folks! All the great new Valiant series’ to get excited about through the end of the year and beyond! Most of these series were teased in the Valiant 2016 Free Comic Book Day preview comic, but there are two significant absences… Psi-Lords, and Shadowman. Both were also teased with full page ads in the FCBD issue but were not mentioned during the summit so I guess we’ll just have to keep a lookout for info on those in the future. There’s still much to be enthused about with what was announced though, so let us know in the comments below which newly announced Valiant series you’re most excited about! ¡Viva la Valiant!

Wrath of the Eternal Writer – An Interview with Robert Venditti

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Since its relaunch in in 2012, Valiant Entertainment has built one hell of a bullpen.  Robert Venditti was one of the small handful of writers tasked with relaunching the Valiant universe after Dinesh Shamdasani brought it back from the void.  As of this writing, Venditti has written 46 issues of X-O Manowar (plus several other issues centered on the X-Overse), which is coming to a close with the 50th issue. He also wrote last years incredibly popular BOOK OF DEATH crossover event, and has recently taken the reins of my personal favorite character with WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Robert Venditti fanboy. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Mr. Venditti about life, the universe, and everything – or at least about his work with Valiant. Enjoy!

picture courtesy of USA Today

 

 

4LN – Now that X-O MANOWAR is coming to an end, what’s it like reflecting back on the series that broke ground for the relaunch of Valiant Entertainment and became its flagship title?

Robert Venditti – It was the first title when Valiant launched, but there were really four books that were in the first Summer of Valiant. I don’t want to say that this one book launched the Valiant Universe, because the Summer of Valiant was much bigger than that. Looking back on it, I’m really happy with it. I feel fortunate to have been able to stay with one character for this long; that’s not a common thing in any case, but even less so in the modern comics market. The opportunity to do one long-form arc of development that spans over four years is something I’m really happy with.

4LN – Looking back, are there any particular moments writing X-O that stand out in your mind as being particularly special (example: favorite kill, favorite panel, favorite issue, etc.)?

RV – There’s a variety of those things. If you’re talking favorite kill, the one that certainly became well known with Valiant fans was in issue #5 when Aric punches a grenade into a mercenary’s chest and blows him apart from the inside. I remember writing it and laughing about how crazy it was to be typing things like that into a panel description. People still come up and talk to me about to this day. But the stuff that I enjoy the most, as a writer, are the quieter moments. I really like what we were able to do with the flashback scenes of Aric, showing him as a child with his family. I’m very proud of issue #0, which I think put a different spin on his background than readers were probably expecting. There are others things I’m proud of as well.

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4LN – You are also currently writing WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR – what are some major differences and/or similarities between Gilad and Aric?

RV – I think people commonly correlate Aric to Gilad. They’re both characters that are sort of men out of time, if you want to put it that way. But I see them as exact opposites. Aric is a character who was abducted by aliens in the 5th Century and transported to the modern day, so he didn’t have the benefit of living all the days and years between. Gilad, however, is somebody who has lived every single one of those days and years. It informs them very differently in terms of worldview.

If you look the “Homeland” storyline in X-O Manowar, when Aric first comes back to Earth with the freed Visigoths and tries to conquer Romania. I think that’s a classic case of how different these two individuals are, and the difference in way in which they approach things. Gilad would have understood the modern geo-political landscape and that you can’t just plop down in a country and take it over, especially not when it’s on Russia’s doorstep. But Aric has no knowledge of those things, because he just leapt over all of that and found himself in the modern day.

4LN – In the first arc of WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR, Gilad fights through some sort of afterlife to return to the present. Is there a difference between this place and the Deadside?

RV – To be revealed! I think we’ve seen various aspects of the afterlife—or the Deadside, or whatever you want to call it—in the Valiant Universe. Whether it was in Shadowman, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, Dr. Mirage, or various other places, there is a larger plan in place linking these things together. But it isn’t anything that I’m able to talk about.

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4LN – We just finished the “Prelude to the Labyrinth” where you worked with Juan José Ryp, and next you jump in the Labyrinth story and are back with your regular Wrath partner Raul Allen. What’s in been like working with these two incredible talented artists?

RV – It has been a real highlight of my career. They’re both phenomenally talented, but very different stylistically. Juan is more detailed and use larger images. Raul is more into paneling, page breakdowns, and has a different kind of approach to the way the story gets told. Both are extremely talented guys, and I really tried to write for them specifically with the storylines that they were going to be on. To have #5 and #6 be a really huge, widescreen action set of issues that dealt with Gilad storming an entire city by himself, it seemed uniquely suited for what Juan does. On the other side of the coin, to do a story like we are doing now, where the whole thing is set in a labyrinth, seems uniquely suited to Raul’s style. I couldn’t be happier than working with those two guys, and I certainly hope I get to cross paths with them again.

4LN – Lastly, can you give us any clues about what we can expect to see in the upcoming “Labyrinth” story?

RV – We’re going to put a new spin on a classic Valiant antagonist, somebody who was key to Gilad’s history in the original Valiant Universe. Not just update it and modernize it, but put some twists in there that the readers won’t necessarily expect. At the same time, we’re going to have some big reveals for Gilad in terms of his estranged relationship with his first-born son Kalam. What he learns in the labyrinth is going to propel us into the series’ next arc. These fourteen issues are meant to be a long-form arc about a father and a son, how they became estranged, and whether or not they can reconcile. Gilad is about to take a big step in that journey.

 

I would like to thank Robert for taking time out of his day to chat comics with us.  WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #7, which kicks off a brand new story-arc, and X-O MANOWAR ANNUAL #1 are out this coming Wednesday so plan to head out to your local comic shops to get them, and make sure you check out the finale to X-O Manowar this fall!

4LN Comic Review – Darth Vader #20

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Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca, with Edgar Delgado on Colors
Publisher: Marvel

Summary from Comixology – “New Story Arc! “END OF GAMES” begins this issue! Inspector Thanoth returns with some startling information. Vader may have passed his master’s tests…but will his own schemes prove his undoing? PLUS: A bonus tale of Triple-Zero and Beetee!”

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Marvel’s STAR WARS titles have, for the most part, been phenomenal, with STAR WARS and DARTH VADER being the best of the bunch.  Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca continue the streak with issue #20, which kicks off the “End of Games” story-line.

When I initially started reading this issue, I wasn’t planning on writing a review of it, but I just loved it.  There were so many reasons fans of STAR WARS might be interested in this issue, even if they haven’t been reading this series regularly.  First and foremost, we get to see the Super Star Destroyer “The Executor” under construction at the Kuat Drive Yards, which is Darth Vader’s capital ship as seen in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.  I’m not going to lie, I nerded out for a while staring at that panel.  I mean, Larroca’s artwork on that two-page spread was worth the price of admission alone.

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Most of the issue is centered on a one-sided conversation between Darth Vader and Emperor Sheev Palpatine.  Sheev details how he rose to power and purged the galaxy of weakness, destroyed the Jedi, and how he forced a traitor to overplay their hand in order for Vader to cut him down.  Despite having very little action (other than the short story in the back, which I will get into later) Gillen, and the rest of the creative team, are so good they make a conversation about political subterfuge entertaining.

I was also really impressed with Larroca’s ability to depict the Emperor’s most popular, facial expressions.  The way his piercing eyes stood in contrast to his simple, black robes was unnerving, and there were several expressions that were pulled right out of the films.  Oh, and if you are a fan of Triple Zero and Beetee, this issue includes a solo story featuring the two murderbots as well.  It’s always fun to see Triple Zero and Beetee since they are the antithesis of of Threepio and Artoo.

This issue was one of the best issues in Marvel’s modern STAR WARS titles.  Despite having almost no action, and practically running solely on dialog, I loved every second of it.  Gillen and Larroca make a great team, and they get it.  They aren’t heavy handed with their references, but add just enough to keep STAR WARS devotees excited.  Make sure you pick this issue up.  It’s not imperative that you read issues 1-19 to understand what’s going on, and it just might make a believer out of you.

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4LN Comic Review – 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar

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Series: 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Clayton Henry, with Brian Reber on Colors
Color Art: Brian Reber with Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology: “ROCKETING OUT OF THE PAGES OF 4001 A.D…the present and future of Valiant’s #1 hero come together for an essential standalone chapter at the heart of the summer’s blockbuster comics event!

How did the rise of Earth’s most powerful hero lead to humanity’s ultimate destruction? Just what was the War of the X-O Manowars…and how did its catastrophic fallout bring ruination and despair to a besieged planet? And why is the sacred extraterrestrial armor called Shanhara the one weapon Father fears more than any other?

The answers to the pivotal questions behind Valiant’s planet-shaking summer event arrive here as New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (BOOK OF DEATH) and acclaimed artist Clayton Henry (IVAR, TIMEWALKER) blast two thousand years into the future of the Valiant Universe to reveal the never-before-told history of New Japan’s dominion over Earth…and the doomed role that the X-O Manowar armor was forever fated to play in the coming war for liberation!”

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Last week Valiant kicked off it’s much anticipated summer event, and the first issue was fantastic.  In his 4001 A.D. #1 review, my fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew said, “Valiant is the archetype for modern comic events,” and he’s absolutely spot on.   As with BOOK OF DEATH, last year’s event, 4001 A.D. will have four one-shots that show how some of their most popular characters are affected by the events in 4001.  The first one-shot focuses on how X-O Manowar’s legacy leads to a pivotal moment in last weeks issue (which I won’t spoil here in case you have let your self down by not reading it yet).

4001 A.D.: X-O MANOWAR was a great read made all the better by Robert Venditti’s terrific writing. It features everything from giant mech-suits to terrifying AI, or, as I liked to call it, damn good sci-fi.  Despite not being dialog heavy, this one-shot manages to fit in a LOT of setup into the previously mentioned pivotal moment of 4001. A.D. and the ending is just superb, in an unsettling sort of way.  I also enjoyed Clayton Henry’s artwork on this issue.  His art style is very clean, with some pretty great angles, and helps lighten the tone of what otherwise would have been an even more ominous story.

The Rai universe is fascinating, but it is so far ahead in the timeline that I jump at any chance to glimpse the world in between around now and, you know, 4001.  I am also not one to turn down some sweet, sci-fi action.  Plus, Robert Venditti just gets it.  He’s been in the Valiant universe longer than anyone, and his grasp of the content is prevalent in pretty much every book he writes for the company.

So far, we are only two issues into Valiant’s summer event, and it’s already been a hell of a ride.  We don’t generally give out star ratings, but this book is definitely a ★★★★★ issue.  Check out the preview below, and head out to your local comic shop this Wednesday and pick one up for yourself.

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4LN Comic Review: Divinity II #1

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Series: Divinity II
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

The much-anticipated follow-up to the five-time sold-out series that The Onion/A.V. Club calls the “Best New Superhero of 2015” is here! The acclaimed creative team returns for a perfect new jumping-on point into the expansive sci-fi saga that shook the world!

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent three cosmonauts farther than anyone has gone before or since. Handpicked orphans with no connections to Earth, trained as devout Communists, and restricted from having families, they became lost in the stars and encountered something Unknown… Something that changed them.

Long thought lost and erased from the history books, Abram Adams was the first to return. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. But, even with limitless powers, he is concerned only with the secret love he hid away from his superiors and the unborn child he never met.

Now, Miska, the female co-pilot of the group, has also returned to Earth…but, unlike Abram she had no secret family. Unlike Abram, she still believes in the Communist ideal. And, unlike Abram, she intends to play a very real role in the return of Soviet glory.

Earth is about to meet a new god. And she’s a Communist. How long can it be before the nations of Earth bend before DIVINITY?

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In the first DIVINITY, Abram Adams, a Russian cosmonaut, reaches the end of the known universe and is basically imbued with powers that establish him as a sort of benevolent god who can control space and time.  In the end, love for his family (that he wasn’t supposed to have) outweighed his love of Mother Russia, and he abandoned the other two cosmonauts and returns to Earth where he ultimately enters a self-imposed isolation after a brief run in with Unity.

DIVINITY II #1 provides an interesting antithesis to that story.  Unlike Adams, Mishka puts nothing above the Soviet Union.  She sees Adams abandonment as treason against the USSR.  In her return to Earth she discovers that the Soviet Union has fallen, and decides to use her considerable powers to help restore the Motherland to its former glory.

I’m not going to lie… I had a hard time understanding the first DIVINITY.  I think if I had read it all at one time, it probably would’ve made more sense to me.  Matt Kindt is a brilliant writer and is simply much, MUCH smarter than me – and that’s okay.  With that being said, DIVINITY II made more sense to me in the context of the first one.  The world had already been built.  Instead of trying to comprehend the mind-bending journey that lead to Abram Adams extraordinary powers, I am asked to understand absolute loyalty to one’s ideals and the feeling of betrayal.  This book was really good.  The DIVINITY books have always been on the trippier side, and this one is no exception, as you will see from the previews below.  The art team, consisting of Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron, pulls off some insane panels and makes it look easy, while Matt Kindt, as always, writes a strong, character driven story.

It will definitely be interesting to see where this series goes.  I love the idea that Adams is this benevolent deity that just wants to keep to himself, while Mishka wants to help Putin rebuild the USSR.  Her belief that Abrams is a traitor also sets up an interesting confrontation between two incredibly powerful Russian-cosmonauts-turned-deities.  One thing is for sure, Valiant is putting together the best shared universe in comics, and the introduction of DIVINITY II adds another element to the mix.

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