Four Letter Nerd

Category - Comics

4LN Comic Review: Redneck #1

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Series: Redneck
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Dee Cunniffe
Colorist: Lisandro Estherren

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Summary from Comixology: “The Bowmans are VAMPIRES who have quietly run the local barbecue joint in their small town for years, living off cow’s blood. Their peaceful coexistence ends as generations of hate, fear, and bad blood bubble to the surface–making it impossible to separate man from monster! Critically acclaimed writer DONNY CATES (GOD COUNTRY) and artist LISANDRO ESTHERREN serve up the tale of a DIFFERENT kind of family just trying to get by, deep in the heart of Texas.”

I am a huge fan of vampires. Of all the horror characters, and classic monsters, vampires have always been my favorite. I think that may have something to do with the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing movie. Once I saw that, I became fascinated with the bloodsuckers. I absolutely loved True Blood, I shamefully read Twilight, and Scott Snyder’s American Vampire is a comic I am constantly recommending to new readers. I used to play Magic; The Gathering almost daily, and I had a mono black vampire deck that almost ruined friendships. When I heard that there was a new vampire comic coming out from the same guy who did God Country, I knew I would instantly love the series. And I do.

Living in the south, this comic was almost instantly relatable for me. The characters we are introduced to might be vampires but they could easily be your next door neighbors or friends you run into while grabbing groceries. Our main vampire in the story is named Bartlett Bowman and he was born the same day in the same year as the state of Texas declared its independence, December 29th, 1845. Barlett was at The Alamo, he was in the civil war, and he was everywhere between then and now. His family has lived in the town of Sulphur Spring since before it was even a town, and Bartlett believes that he’ll still be around long after the town is razed from the earth. Sticking with the southern feel of the book, Bartlett has a family feud with another local family named The Landrys; Think Hatfields & McCoys, but Vampires & Mortals.

I think my personal favorite thing about this comic is how it’s only issue #1, and it’s already painfully bleak. The artwork by Dee Cunniffe is dark and full of dark tones, and the use of a lot of blacks and dark blues. Cunniffe does a great job bringing this east Texas town to life, and it feels like a real place that you would want to drive through as quick as possible. Along with the town, Cunniffe, and Estherren do a great job with the character appearances as well as the main fight scene. In the fight, we don’t see much, but we can tell that major shit is about to go down, and it felt similar to the build up of the border crossing scene in Sicario. Along those lines, it was fantastic to see what happens to the vampires in sunlight and, unlike Twilight, they aren’t sparkling.

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If you love Vampires or just a good dirty, southern crime story, then this IS the book for you. Be sure to head to your LCS and grab this before it’s gone. I saw in a Facebook group that this is a hot book and going quick, so don’t sleep on this, you will regret it! Redneck is full of edge of your seat suspense that will leave you thirsty for more. It’s rare to find the first issue of a comic that grabbed my interest as much as Redneck.

 

Music Pairing:

Hunting Humans by The Misfits, because of obvious reasons. (Writers note: Misfits blow without Danzig. All hail Danzig!)

8 Valiant Comics and Bands You Need To Check Out Before Warped Tour 2017

Warped Valiant

About a month and a half ago, Valiant Entertainment and Warped Tour announced that they’ve partnered up on Warped Tour’s 2017 promotional artwork and marketing. Essentially, that means Valiant characters are promoting Warped Tour. And that’s f**king cool.

Valiant has put out some absolutely incredible series, and I honestly believe that no publisher has more respect and appreciation for their readers than they do.

If you are not familiar with Valiant, but you’re interested in checking them out, we’ve thrown together a list of some current ongoing books that you should pick up before Warped Tour kicks off this summer. Most, if not all, of these series are already available in trade collections so you can head down to your local comic shop and pick up a couple for pretty cheap. If you don’t have a comic shop nearby then click the Comixology link under each series below to get them digitally.

Along with the reading recommendations, you’ll also find some listening suggestions featuring bands who are playing on this years Warped Tour.

Enjoy!

X-O Manowar

X-O Manowar (2017) #1

Summary from Comixology: “Born under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire, Aric of Dacia learned warfare at an early age. It was amid such violence that he was abducted by an alien race. Forced into slavery, he survived where others perished. His escape would come from bonding with a weapon of immeasurable power: the X-O Manowar armor. With it, he returned to Earth…only to find himself stranded in the modern day. But that was a lifetime ago.

“Now, far from home on a strange and primitive new world, Aric has begun a new life. Liberated from his past, he tends to his crops. Free from war. Free from violence. Free from the armor.

“But the machinery of death marches his way once again. Conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, the fury inside him finds voice as he is forced to embrace the armor once more. With it, he will decimate armies, topple empires and incite interplanetary warfare as he rises from SOLDIER to GENERAL to EMPEROR to VISIGOTH. They wanted a weapon. He will give them war!”

Listen to this while you read it!

Hundredth

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Faith

Faith #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

Summary from Comixology: “Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws into her harms way!

“Well, at least she thought it would… When she’s not typing up listicals about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels’ own leading superhero – the sky-soaring Zephyr!

“But flying solo is going to be tougher than Zephyr ever thought when she uncovers a deep-rooted alien conspiracy. Two-bit burglars and car thieves are one thing, but when the world needs a hero to stave off a full-blown extraterrestrial invasion, will Faith find herself in over her head…or ready for her biggest challenge yet?”

Listen to this while you read it!

Tillie

PLAYING Warped 7.26 – 8.6

 

Generation Zero

Generation Zero Vol. 1

Summary from Comixology: Listen to this while you read it! “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.”

Listen to this while you read it!

New Years Day

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Savage 

Savage #1

Summary from Comixology: 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.”

Listen to this while you read it!

Knocked Loose

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Britannia

Britannia

Summary from Comixology: “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 in Valiant’s latest magnum opus.”

Listen to this while you read it!

Fire From The Gods

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Bloodshot: Reborn

Bloodshot Reborn #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

Summary from Comixology: “Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit – a private contractor trafficking in violence – very well.

“Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving headlong into the violence that nearly destroyed him.”

Listen to this while you read it!

Bad Omens

PLAYING Warped 7.4 – 7.24

 

Ninjak

Ninjak (2015- ) #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

Summary from Comixology: “For the first time, Ninjak’s past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Rai, Mind MGMT) and superstar artists Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) and Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics)!

“Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.

“Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.”

Listen to this while you read it!

I Prevail

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong

A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

Summary from Comixology: “GET SMASHED…OR BE SMASHED! Meet Armstrong: Since the ancient city of Ur, this immortal adventurer has spent the last 7,000 years drinking and carousing his way through history alongside some of the greatest merrymakers the world has ever known.

“Meet Archer: A sheltered teenage martial arts master and expert marksman that was raised for a single purpose – to kill the devil incarnate. Little did he know that this undying evil was actually Armstrong (he’s actually a pretty good guy…once you get to know him) and, since hitting the road together, the two have become great friends and even better partners.

“Now: Archer is about to set off on his most dangerous mission yet – a quest into the mystic reaches of Armstrong’s bottomless satchel to liberate his friend and comrade from the clutches of the mad god Bacchus! (Okay, so, Armstrong went into the satchel himself to get a bottle of whiskey that he kinda misplaced and got stuck. It’s like the Amazon warehouse of arcane treasures in there…and he doesn’t exactly have a maid service.)

“Imprisoned in Armstrong’s satchel for centuries, Bacchus now commands a legion of monsters, goblins and golems bent on escaping back into the world of man and enacting revenge on their captor… Can Archer single-handedly combat the godly embodiment of intoxication himself – and rescue his best buddy – without becoming lost amongst Armstrong’s endless repository of bizarre artifacts and historical oddities in the process?”

Listen to this while you read it!

Valient Thorr

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

I Am The Villain Behind Marvel’s Sales Slump

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What you are reading is an admission of guilt.  I take responsibility for my actions and, with sound mind and clarity present myself to you with no prejudice and no pre-conceived master plan. I am responsible for MARVEL’s slump of comic book sales, and MARVEL has no one but themselves to blame.

I take no pleasure in revealing myself as the villain.  I thought about it long and hard before I decided to make my actions known to the world.  In fact, I woke up this morning and had pretty much come to the personal realization that this would be something I would just keep to myself until I shuffled off this lowly plane of existence.  However, I have seen an increase in articles written by people who claim to be experts in this industry, with their 5K Twitter followers or the reach of their audience through one of the plethora<h3 “”=”” id=”yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1491345529012_2727″> I Am The Villain Behind Marvel’s Sales Slump of comic book news websites, podcasts, forums or Facebook groups.  Even as you read this, you may think this is a clever piece written by a staff writer who wanted to take a fresh angle on a subject that everyone thinks they know.

All posers, amateurs and false.

This is the true story, and I share it, along with who I am and why I did what I did, with you today.

I am an average, unassuming middle age comic reader and collector.  In fact, short of my love for comics and the comic book industry as a whole, I’m quite boring.  If you are a comic retailer, I am both the man who comes into your store who has a pullbox with you out of loyalty or the man who wanders in off the street to spend money in your shop simply to help support it.  I will cherry pick your $1 boxes for that 1:25 variant you couldn’t sell and put it in the hands of a collector across the country.  I listen to your conversations, critique, and complaints in casual conversations and chime in with ease.  You’ll even find my name in the SPECIAL THANKS section of some MARVEL COMICS.  I have been both comic customer and retailer.  I am everyone and no one and where I once bought 20-30 MARVEL comics a month.  Now I don’t buy MARVEL at all, and I don’t sing MARVEL’s praises like I used to.

First reason:  MARVEL EVENTS.  I’m sick of them.  They have inconsistent artwork and are used as nothing more than a rinse-and-repeat cash grab.  They also often begin or end with the death of a long-time classic MARVEL character that I grew up with and have invested years of time and money of my life in coming to know.  They’re confusing, often unnecessary, sometimes late and numerous.  Back in the day, it might be a year between Events.  Now it might be every 3-6 months, and they bleed over, making it hard to tell when one ends and another begins.  So instead of not buying the crossover books and just buying the event limited series…now I don’t buy events at all.  I also echo this opinion to the friends in my network.

Second reason:  DIVERSITY.  I attended a MARVEL RETAILER SUMMIT at NYCC a couple years back, and Marvel was both praised and were praising themselves over diversity in comics.  And yes, MARVEL should be applauded for their progressive and aggressive stance on this issue.  BUT I feel it was too much too soon, and it’s not thought out well.  While characters like KAMALA KHAN and MILES MORALES are exceptional gems, MARVEL is slowing replacing (not adding, replacing) their cast with fresh characters that I have little personal investment in.  When DC relaunched their books under the NEW 52 banner, I stopped buying DC (except BATMAN…I don’t know anyone who dropped BATMAN) for the very same reason.  THESE WEREN’T MY CHARACTERS.  MARVEL was unique to DC because of their focus on down-to-earth, regular, every-day, conflicted alter-egos.  Now, I would be buying TOTALLY AWESOME HULK just because I love the HULK.  No.  I love BRUCE BANNER, who happens to BE the HULK.  Basically, I support the idea of characters who broaden religion, sex or ethnicity.  But it’s getting to where we’re seeing an “All-New, All-Different” line-up isn’t speaking to me as a long-time reader.  You took the chance that the prospect of having new, fresh faces in the shops to become readers would be more than the current readership.  That chance doesn’t seem to be working very well.  This hip, fresh approach isn’t appealing to old fogeys like me…and our opinions matter to other readers, both new and old.

Third reason:  VARIANT OVERLOAD.  What once was a fun and casual twist to collecting has now become the bane of a collector’s existence.  I now have short boxes that hold single titles due to the number of variations this company pumps out.  You can spend thousands of dollars as a collector just buying the same book over and over and over again…which I don’t think this gimmick was meant for that.  GWENPOOL, VENOMIZED, ACTION FIGURE, BABY, 1:1000s…there is no end in sight to the bottomless pit of money a collector or shop can lose.

Also, as a retailer, while these variants can be a way to make an insane amount of money, that only happens if DIAMOND doesn’t muck it up.   Case in point:  a few years ago, I ran a comic shop a few years ago and ordered 300 copies of a comic to qualify for a single 1:300 variant that I knew would sell.  When the book came out, DIAMOND didn’t ship the book.  When they were able to fulfill it, the window of hype and opportunity closed and cost the shop hundreds of dollars.  I blame MARVEL and DIAMOND for that.  So instead of buying new books…I spend my time wandering like a zombie into different stores just looking to buy a copy of a book I already have because I would rather have a 1:75 variant than take several $4 chances on books that might not be any good.  MARVEL’S STAR WARS #1 has over 100 different covers via MARVEL or various retailers all over the country.  I’ve seen comic shops with entire boxes of unsold product that were simply variations of the same comic.  You can browse MARVEL’s CLOSEOUT LIST sent to retailers every few months, and it will be littered with variants for a buck.  Everyone remember what happened to HASTINGS?  This is where the market is going if it continues.

Fourth Reason:  INCONSISTENT CREATIVE TEAMS.  I guess I’m old school, but I miss the days when a comic might have the same writer and artist on a title for years.  If I want that, I need to go to IMAGE.  That’s not a huge sticking point, but some of my friends still buy comics for art.

Fifth Reason:  CONSTANT REBOOTS and RELAUNCHES.  Retailers and collectors LOVE #1 issues.  It looks like a jumping on point.  But it’s not.  It’s just a way to sell more books.  Some MARVEL books even have a large “#1” printed that is larger than the actual issue number.  This is misleading.  Stop relaunching titles with new #1s.  It waters down the collectability and confuses readers.

Sixth Reason:  STAN LEE.  Marvel needs another Stan Lee.  Joe Quesada is a cool guy who knows comics and is an extremely talented man.  But he’s no Stan Lee.  As a kid, Stan made me feel good about every dollar I spent on a Marvel Comic.  When Stan would speak to me in the comics, that’s what it felt like.  He was speaking directly to me as if he and I, publisher and reader, connected on a personal level.  That kind of marketing is rare.  IDW, BOOM! and VALIANT seem to be the publishers that have figured this out…putting emphasis on the reader and making you feel good about the book you read.  That builds personal investment.  MARVEL has gotten a little lazy in this regard in the last few years, and Stan has evolved far beyond Marvel into a brand of his own.  Someone needs to come forward, step up and tell people WHY they need to buy Marvel and how that $4-$10 they are spending on a comic is a $10 well spent.

Joe Q:  we love you.  Step up, sir.

I’m sure there are a few others that I didn’t touch on here, but it really doesn’t matter.  MARVEL is scratching their heads and wondering “WHY?  We’re MARVEL!”  but the answer is in their own question.  Marvel made it easy NOT to buy them with inconsistent story-telling, false market buzz, self-hype and changing too much too soon…making it easier for me to plant seeds into the minds of my peers as to why they shouldn’t buy MARVEL anymore.  Beyond this sentence, I’ve made no reference to the MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE either, so the movies play little factor in my piece.

If it’s any consolation, this has come with a price.  I don’t sleep as well anymore knowing that I have been responsible for the woes of a company who has brought so much joy in my life.  Marvel can fill a room with retailers, send out press releases and fill the shelves with new #1 issues every Wednesday until the Badoon Invasion but until they decide to attack the issue on the reader level and not just on the retail one, this will continue to happen.  I don’t know if I have the answer as to how this can be reversed.  The ball is rolling so fast now that it might just need to play out on a grand scale and see where MARVEL lands in the big picture.  On my end, dropping $20-$30 bucks a week on MARVEL COMICS now seems like a waste of money to me and that’s terribly sad.

I wish I knew how much money I’ve spent on MARVEL COMICS my whole life.

Those days are gone.

*(rubs hands together)* You’re welcome.

 

(Editor’s note: this was written by a guest contributor who wishes to remain anonymous)

4LN Comic Review: X-O Manowar (2017) #1

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Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Tomás Giorello and Diego Rodriguez
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology:

Born under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire, Aric of Dacia learned warfare at an early age. It was amid such violence that he was abducted by an alien race. Forced into slavery, he survived where others perished. His escape would come from bonding with a weapon of immeasurable power: the X-O Manowar armor. With it, he returned to Earth…only to find himself stranded in the modern day. But that was a lifetime ago.

Now, far from home on a strange and primitive new world, Aric has begun a new life. Liberated from his past, he tends to his crops. Free from war. Free from violence. Free from the armor.

But the machinery of death marches his way once again. Conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, the fury inside him finds voice as he is forced to embrace the armor once more. With it, he will decimate armies, topple empires and incite interplanetary warfare as he rises from SOLDIER to GENERAL to EMPEROR to VISIGOTH. They wanted a weapon. He will give them war!

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Robert Venditti’s X-O MANOWAR (2012) was the title that helped Valiant Entertainment launch itself into the modern era.   His take on X-O Manowar was poignant, and over the course of its fifty issue run, he transformed the raucous, Visigoth warrior into a king and peacemaker.  It was a fun journey, with all sorts of twists and turns, memorable villains and memorable fights.  After Venditti stepped away, I was slightly worried about who would eventually step in and take the reins of Valiant’s flagship character.  Lucky for us, Valiant superstar Matt Kindt was announced as the heir to the throne.

If you put all of the Valiant titles up on a wall and threw a dart at them, the chances of your dart landing on an issue Kindt worked on is fairly high.  During his time at Valiant Comics, Kindt has written UNITY, which happened to feature X-O Manowar, RAI, NINJAK, THE VALIANT with Jeff Lemire, and DIVINITY.  What I am trying to say is Matt Kindt is Valiant’s cleanup hitter.

In X-O MANOWAR #1 we find a more stoic Aric.  Tired of war and death, Aric left Earth behind and found another habitable planet where he could live in peace.  After burying his X-O armor, he finds solace tending the land and growing a sweet beard.  Unfortunately, war finds him even here, and he is forced to serve as cannon fodder in a war he has no interest in.

To me, X-O MANOWAR #1 feels like a mixture of RAI and the fantastic western “The Quick and the Dead”, with Aric playing the role of retired gunslinger forced to fight.  Matt Kindt, like we’ve come to expect from his work on RAI, tells an epic science-fiction tale, with plenty of good dialogue and just enough backstory to get you headed in the right direction without bogging you down.

Another high point in this debut is the art.  I can’t think of another book off the top of my head that looks quite like what this art team pulls off.  It sort of reminds me of the kind of art that in on the cover of old pulp science-fiction novels, and I love it.  The line work and colors just mesh together in a really cool way that matches the epic nature of the story.

Ultimately, X-O MANOWAR #1 is one of the most action packed debuts I’ve seen.  After the first few pages, the action picks up and keeps on going till the last page.  Kindt’s epic story-telling ability is on point, and this art team is just killer.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read a single Valiant comic before, this book is spectacular – a definite 5 out of 5.

X-O MANOWAR #1 hits the stands March 22, 2017, and you need it in your life.  Now here are some preview pages:

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4LN Comic Review: Green Arrow #16

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Series: Green Arrow
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist and Colorist: Otto Schmidt
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Summary from comixology: “EMERALD OUTLAW” part five! Implicated in the killing of several high profile Seattleites, besieged by a murderous cabal of crooked cops and demonized by a mayoral candidate willing to tear the city apart to get what he wants, all seems lost for Green Arrow. That is, until help arrives in the form of a long-lost ally. It’s the return of Emiko Queen!

Green Arrow by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt has easily been the most consistently great series to come out of Rebirth. Batman, Trinity, and Wonder Woman have all been awesome (in my opinion), but Green Arrow is the only one that hasn’t had a low point or an issue that I thought to myself, “This isn’t necessary…” Percey is just one of those writers that instantly captures that tone and nature of the character. Like Scott Snyder with Batman, Jason Aaron with Thor, or James Robinson with ANY Golden Age character. I honestly think Percy will easily go down as one of the best Green Arrow writers.

Since the very first issue of this series, Oliver Queen has been a Social Justice Warrior, and that had some controversy around it because even the term itself tends to be viewed, for some bizarre reason, negatively, and is often used sarcastically. But, as I said in my Green Arrow #1 review, Ollie has always, and should always, be a Social Justice Warrior. It just fits his nature. The great thing about this issue (and series) is that it tackles political issues head on and without remorse. Hell, the alternative villain, the mayor-to-be of Seattle who ran his campaign based on fear and hate, is the spitting image of Donald J. Trump. I have to give respect to Percy for guiding the story to a place so relevant to today’s topics.

When it comes to art, Otto Schmidt is one of my favorite artist working with DC Comics. The more that these guys put out, the better the work gets and it’s already fantastic work. Schmidt does a incredible job with the colors and line work on every page. In the intense fight scenes, everything is clearly defined and easy to locate. I personally love the uses of dark colors such as blues, oranges, and greens. Schmidt does a great job using the color scheme to capture the tone of the book. Along with colors, Schmidt also does a great job with the facial characteristics and body language of everyone in the book.

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As I said above, Percy and  Schmidt have done amazing things with Green Arrow, and are only 16 issues into what I hope is a very long run on the character. They have re-imagined Oliver Queen as an modern-day SJW (and it works) and they are tackling real issues in a fantasy world. If you haven’t read any of their run, you are truly missing out. The first trade just came out, and this is only the 5th issue of the Emerald Outlaw story arc. So, do yourself a favor and head down to your LCS and pick up issues 12-16 and enjoy this great series as much as I do.

 

Music Pairing:

You’ll want something fairly political and fairly heavy. And for that I recommend the great Stick To Your Guns. Check out the song No Tolerance of the EP Better Dust Than Ash. And, if you dig them, check out our interview with their drummer, George Schmitz.

4LN Comic Review: Darth Maul #1

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Series: Darth Maul
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard

462191._SX360_QL80_TTD_Summary from Comixology: “Bred on hate, fear, and anger…steeped in the ways of darkness…and trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge. From writer Cullen Bunn (DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, WOLVERINE) and artist Luke Ross (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, HERCULES) comes a tale of rage unleashed as Darth Maul prepares for his first encounter with the Jedi.”

I remember being six when Star Wars Episode I: The Phanom Menace first came out, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever (I know… I know…). The movie starred a young kid, my age, podracing, and one bad ass Sith. From the minute I saw Darth Maul, I was intimidated. The black and red face, the horns, the double-edged lightsaber, and the fact that Darth Maul was extremely quiet just added to his brooding nature.

If any writer was born to write Darth Maul, it’s Cullen Bunn. Bunn is just one of those writers that just does a great job with a villainous and anti-hero characters. He’s written Sinestro and Lobo for DC, and he has worked on Magneto and Deadpool for Marvel. He just has a natural ability with capturing the darker and more brooding characters. In the Phantom Menace, Darth Maul doesn’t say much; but, in the first issue of the mini-series he has quite a bit of dialogue. Darth Maul struggles with some inner demons and frustration directed at Darth Sidious, since he feels Maul is not ready to complete his apprenticeship.

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When it comes to the art in this book it tends to, at times, look a little more cartoony than the rest of the Star Wars books (not including Princes Leia)  have looked, and I certainly don’t mean that in a negative context. The cartoon feel actually adds a great amount of depth to the book and makes some of the scenes all that more bad ass. The book actually starts with Darth Maul hunting two of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy, Rathtars(space octopus eyeball looking things). Darth Maul takes two of these beasts down in a couple swings of an ax, and its a great start to the series and helps show vicious Maul truly is. Luke Ross does an incredible job with the character designs for the leader of the Trade Federation, and also background characters on Coruscant.

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Bunn and Ross make a fantastic team, and this is leading up to be one of my favorite Star Wars mini-series. As I mentioned before Bunn does a fantastic job capturing a villain and, with a character that so little is known about, this is his time to shine with the ability to be able to add more lore around Darth Maul. Ross’s art really fits the book and I definitely look forward to seeing this creative team run off with Darth Maul.

My only downside to the book is Marvel sticking a $4.99 price tag on the book. Yes, it’s a #1, and yes there is a small bonus story by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire but I really think the $5 price will turn people away. If I wasn’t pulling EVERY Star Wars book, I would have probably passed on this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. And despite the $5 charge, I think you’ll greatly enjoy it too.

 

Music Paring:

Duel Of The Fates by John Williams. Because, duh.

4LN Comic Review: Planet Of The Apes/Green Lantern #1

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Series: Planet of The Apes/Green Lantern
Story: Robbie Thompson
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Barnaby  Bagenda

 

 

Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1

 

Summary from Boom: BOOM! Studios and DC Comics are proud to bring together two classic properties in a historic crossover event. When Taylor goes missing, Cornelius investigates and discovers an ancient ring, unlike anything the universe has ever seen.As its power echoes through the stars, the Guardians of the Universe must reveal to their Lanterns a secret they had hoped would remain buried. With the Green Lantern Corps, led by Hal Jordan, racing to get to the source of this power before Sinestro can get his hands on it, they will discover a truth that will change them forever on…THE PLANET OF THE APES.

 

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This has been one of the few comics that I have eagerly been waiting for. I absolutely loved “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes“, and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is one of my all time favorite Sci-Fi movies. Plus, with the Green Lantern being one of my favorite superheroes, how could I not love this?


This first issue is mostly world building due to setting up the rest of the 6 issues in the mini series. However, they do a fantastic job with characters such as Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and the infamous Sinestro. Bringing in Justin Jordan to work on this project was a great move for Boom/DC since he’s previously worked with a majority of these characters during his time on DC Comics New Guardians during the New 52.

 

I mentioned my love for the new franchise, but this book includes a few beloved characters from the original Planet of The Apes. Cornelius and Nova are the main apes, in this issue at least, and the story seems to take place sometime after the original movie ends. Cornelius ends sup finding some type of ring inside a crater and this ring just happened to once belong to the notorious Larfleeze. With the uses of Sinestro and Larfleeze this is already building up to be an epic story involving two beloved franchises.

 

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Barnaby Bagenda worked with Tom King during his run on the DC series The Omega Men and also worked on Evil Dead 2 by Space Goat Productions. Bagenda does a superb job with the art in this issues and makes it truly look at times like a watercolor painting but is still able to have a great amount of focus in the detail. Only one issue in and I am already itching for more of his art. I personally think that Bagenda and Jordan make a fantastic team, and I can’t wait to see what type of constructs and images these guys come up with.

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Justin Jordan does a fantastic job tying these two properties together, Bagenda’s artwork is phenomenal, and this has turned out to be the crossover I never knew I wanted. I literally couldn’t be more happy for it! If you are at your LCS this week and you see this book on the shelf, be sure to pick it up, especially if you are a fan of either franchise. Let us know in the comments below if you picked this series up and if you enjoyed it or not.

 

Music Pairing:

The Get Up Kids are a great band for this style of a comic, and their song Like A Man Possessed is a perfect pairing for this book. I would dare say Cornelius is a man possessed after this issue. I’m sorry, that was a terrible dad joke, but whatever. I made it and I don’t care.

4LN Comic Review – MARCH: Book One

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There aren’t a lot of comics that you *need* to read. There are a lot of comics that you *want* to read, and love to read, but most of those comics ultimately have no genuine impact on your life other than giving you something to talk about with your comic reading friends who (surprise, surprise) also already loved them. Most of the time you’ll forget those comics within days of having read them. Rarely does a comic, or graphic novel, come along that you *need*, I mean really, for the sake of your own social and cultural betterment, NEED to read. The ones you need to read are the ones that have a lasting impact beyond briefly being mentioned in those comic Facebook groups you’re in. MARCH is one of those “need” books. In fact, and this is quite a big claim, it might be the most “need” comic/graphic novel of all-time.

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The first entry in a trilogy of graphic novels, MARCH: Book One tells the life-story of Congressman John Lewis, with a focus on his childhood and his journey to becoming a leading fighter on the front lines of the civil rights movement. The story unfolds as Rep. Lewis is telling two kids from his district about how he got to where he is, and the setting is Jan. 20th, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated.

The opening of the book is a depiction of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, where Lewis walked side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as about 600 other marchers, in a peaceful protest, but they were blocked by state troopers and consequently attacked and beaten. It’s important that the narrative begin here because this was an pinnacle moment in Rep. Lewis’ life, and in the civil rights movement overall. The incident in Selma was broadcast all over television and shed a national light on the type of inhumane cruelty the black community had been suffering.

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Rep. Lewis lead a fascinating life. MARCH shows us what he was like as a young man, in his own words, and how even as a young boy he had a deep, intuitive understanding of the how precious life is, and how mistreating it can’t be justified.

Also, as someone who resides in a suburb of Nashville, it was bittersweet for me to see how our city is so closely tied to the fight for civil rights. Much of this volume of the story focuses on the peaceful sit-ins that Lewis helped organize at diners right here in the Tennessee capitol. I honestly had no idea that ever happened just outside my own backyard, and I, admittedly, felt a little shame that it wasn’t taught to me when I was in school, and that I hadn’t taken the time on my own to learn about it.

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Luckily for us, we have movies like Selma and The Butler to help us understand what life was like for the people paving the way for civil rights, and what life was like during that era, but there’s only so much a 2 hour movie can show you, and then on top of that they’re being told by artists. MARCH is an opportunity for you to see and hear what was going on through the eyes and words of a man who was actually there, fighting at the forefront of the movement. Sometimes it’s hard to witness, to see what they were enduring, but it is a historical part of this great country of ours, and one we need to be reminded of.

Recently, the trilogy set of MARCH has begun to sell out, so tracking down a physical copy of that might be tough, but it looks you can get a copy of Book One, as well as Book Two & Book Three (the first comic to win a National Book Award), through Amazon, and I’m sure places like Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million might have them as well. You can also check with your local comic shop to see if they have any in stock. If you can’t get a physical copy, all three are available in Amazon’s Kindle format, and through Comixology.

I want to strongly recommend that you get this and read it, and I even urge you to consider getting it for any kid in your life (son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.) from middle-school-age on. I believe it could teach them a lot about a time period in the U.S. that they may struggle to comprehend otherwise.

In addition to the crucial historical information, Rep. Lewis’ life is immensely inspiring, from his wise maturity at a young age through his firm resolve to fight for desegregation. At 76 years old he continues to be a man of strong determination and action. His story will open your eyes and give you hope. Get a hold of MARCH, by any means necessary, and let it move you, but more than that… let it motivate you.

4LN Comic Review: Motor Crush #1

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Series: Motor Crush
Written by: Cameron Stewart, Brendan Flecher, Babs Tarr
Art by: Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “The team behind the critically acclaimed revamp of Batgirl returns with an exciting sci-fiaction-adventure series! By day, Domino Swift competes for fame and fortune in a worldwide motorcycle racing league. By night, she cracks heads of rival gangs in brutal bike wars to gain possession of a rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush.”

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Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr are probably most well known for their critically acclaimed reworking of Batgirl which brought a fresh narrative, youthfulness, and a sense of quirky modernity to the character. Originally received with tentative optimism, what was intended as a six issue jaunt became a full fifteen issue run. The trio’s collaborative effort seems to have acted as a bit of a watershed moment in the world of comics by shining a light on younger female readers who’d been looking for themselves in the pages, and finally saw a heroine they could relate to. That, combined with the integration of technology in it’s everyday glory and not just as the means to another gadget, the quippy lingo, and the overall brightness of the thing was, for this reader at least, to comics what Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to the TV “supers” of the late 90’s. I didn’t just want to be Batgirl of Burnside, I wanted to be her friend. So, needless to say, the dynamic trio (Tarr, Stewart, Fletcher) have their work cut out for them in attempting to win over the same audience with a new female heroine in a completely different genre. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous to dive in…

First things first, this cover is fantastic. The colors are far more muted than we’ve come to expect from Tarr, but all of the sass remains. The story takes place in a tech driven, reality TV heavy future, and centers around motorcycle racer Domino Swift, who is training for The World Grand Prix. Although the narrative focuses entirely on Dom’s personal experience, you get the feel of a Black Mirror: Fifteen Million Merits, or Hunger Games-like future where everyone’s lives revolve around televised events. The intrusiveness of the media is used to great effect. You really feel the omnipresence of the cameras, and the seeming lack of anything personal in this world. I love the way the panels become like screen grabs. It literally makes you a part of the audience, and serves to make the reader’s intrusion into the quiet moments feel almost jarring. The entire issue is a really great balance of contrasts.

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I grew up surrounded by cars and motorcycles. My dad was an amateur race car driver for a time, and a self taught mechanic, as are both of my brothers. I’ve seen my fair share of races in my day, and the comic does an amazing job of capturing the tension, crazy characters, and bravado that surround these events. The page listing the contenders and stats at a shady underground race is probably my favorite. I’m a sucker for names, tidbits, and perfect characterization. These panels really capture the individuals. That one rectangle tells you everything you need to know about who you’re dealing with. It’s just so well done. And look at the diversity! You have women, men, black, white, and muppet all on one page. It really is a step in the right direction for muppet equality!

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In an interesting twist, in this reality it’s not only people, but machines as well who can be addicts. We discover that Domino has been racing with the aid of Crush, an additive or “machine narcotic” that can give an engine extra power but that, like most drugs, can be lethal in large doses. She participates in the legit televised events to gain fame and notoriety, but she runs anonymously in the brawlers to win ampules of Crush. Exactly how and why she uses the Crush is what makes her so intriguing. As the issue unfolds, we get hints that we’re not just dealing with an average badass motorcycle riding, attitude having teenage rebel. But hints are all we get. She uses an inhaler. She’s really great at what she does. Like, really great. She needs Crush. She’s a fighter, but not a killer. And then there’s that brief glimpse of a pink light…

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…so very brief. It’s a pretty audacious first issue that tells you little to nothing about the protagonist. But they did it, and it works.

Motor Crush #1 is at times bleak and harsh, but it still manages to maintain the sharp wit and overall sense of fun at which this trio of artists excels. I have a really hard time with bleak. It has been a long running problem for me with comics in general. I’m finding this new wave of artists that understand how to simultaneously take themselves 100% seriously, and yet maintain a sense of self deprecation in their characters, and whimsy in their worlds incredibly novel. In Motor Crush I also see the promise of a strong African American female heroine who is not exceptional because of her race or her gender, but is extraordinary in her own super-heroic right. There is, in this first issue at least, no indication that her presence in the racing world is anything other than accepted. It is that simple acceptance, that could make Domino and Motor Crush so exceptional. The complete lack of focus by other characters on her gender or her race is quietly revolutionary, and I like it. I like it a lot.

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Overall, what really stands out in my mind is the adept handling of contrasts. It is brilliantly subtle. The character design is succinct and and yet perfectly descriptive. The world is so well defined, from the intrusion of the catball cameras, down to the artistic choice to make it somehow simultaneously washed out and riot of color. The action sequences make your heart race, but the still moments are beautifully captured as well. It even manages relevant social commentary through lack of commentary. Finally, there’s the fact that there is only the slightest hint that Domino may be anything other than a normal human, all the while showing us just how gifted she is in seemingly normal ways. There’s an overall trust in the intelligence of the reader to pick up on the nuance and come along for the ride (pun absolutely intended), and it is really refreshing. As far as first reads go, I call it a success. I’m invested. I’ll worry about Dom until I’m able to join her again. I believe in the world that Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr have created, and I believe in Domino Swift’s potential to be a genre bending heroine in this very bendy modern world. But you don’t have to take my word for it…

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(Editor’s Note: This review was written by Melody Dobbins. Melody is a lifelong book nerd with a particular passion for Tolkien, Joseph Campbell, and comparative religion. When she’s not trapped in her own head, re-watching the Whedonverse, or crafting, she’s a freelance author, artist and illustrator, and proud mama to the two brightest geekletts in all the world. Her favorite graphic novel is Blankets by Craig Thompson, she speaks fluent R2D2, and she’s standing right behind you.)

4LN Comic Review – Harbinger Renegade #1

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Series – Harbinger Renegade
Writer – Rafer Roberts
Art – Darick Robertson, Juan José Ryp, and Raúl Allén
Color Artist –Diego Rodriguez, and and Frankie D’Armata
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

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 Harvey Award nominated writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan,The Boys)!

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Harbinger Renegade has to be one of my most anticipated books of the year. Ever since the book was teased, my internal clock has been ticking down the days until it hits the stands. The previous 25 issue run of Harbinger was a terrific story with great characters, and it appears the superteams reemergence is going to pick up the torch and run with it.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the book, let’s start off with the cons: there aren’t any. This is one of the strongest debut issues I’ve read in a while. I really like Rafer Roberts and his work on A&A has been really fun, but the tones of these two series are vastly different. I was curious to see how his writing style would adapt to the darker tone of the Renegades.

Well worry not Valianteers, this issue was awesome.

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Roberts gets each member of the Renegades right, and the cult leader, Enfuego (because he has fire powers), is sufficiently crazed. I really enjoyed seeing how the now-disbanded Renegades deal with the less-than-stellar consequences at the end of the first series. It certainly wasn’t a storybook ending, and each member is dealing with it differently. As we’ve seen in Jody Houser’s Faith on-going, Faith is one of the only Renegades still wearing the superhero mantle, while Torque and Kris are each handling it inline with the personalities of the characters (which shows that Rafer did his homework and is staying true to the characters).  Oh, and there is a new villain on the block, and I am interested to see how he challenges both the Renegades and Valiant’s original big bad Toyo Harada.

Now lets talk about the art. This issue has a several creative teams, and all of them are terrific.  The book opens with a cool minimalist looking introduction by Raúl Allen, who has been doing some great work on Valiant’s Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.  The introduction gives a quick recap of the original run to get the reader up to speed on the main players and terms of Harbinger.  Then Juan José Ryp gives us a brief look at Harada trying to take down his mysterious competition.  Like all of his work, Ryp’s art is strong and visceral.  Finally, the main story is illustrated by Darrick Robertson, who has a cool style vaguely reminiscent of 90’s art to my untrained, casual comic reader eye.  His panel breakdowns on each page are really interesting, and the last few panels in space are just beautiful.

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Like I said, I have been waiting on this book since it was first teased last year.  A lot of times, the anticipation can lead to a sense of being let-down since you kind of over-sell the idea of the book to yourself BUT Rafer Roberts and company deliver on every level.  Make sure you head down to your local comic store and pick up Harbinger Renegade today!

PS. make sure to save the coupons in this series to mail in and get a copy of Harbinger Wars 2 #0!.

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