Four Letter Nerd

Category - Comics

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

 

 

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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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4LN Comic Review – The Unworthy Thor #1

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Series – The Unworthy Thor
Writer – Jason Aaron
Art – Olivier Coipel, with recap by Russell Dauterman
Color Artist – Matthew Wilson
Publisher – Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “The Odinson’s desperate search to regain his worthiness has taken him out into the cosmos, where he’s learned of the existence of a mysterious other Mjolnir. This weapon of unimaginable power, a relic from a dead universe, is the key to Odinson’s redemption — but some of the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe are now anxious to get their hands on it as well. Can The Odinson reclaim his honor, or will the power of thunder be wielded for evil? The quest for the hammer begins here.”

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So Jason Aaron’s God of Thunder run is one of my all time favorite series.  It not only reawakened my love for comics, but cemented Thor as one of my favorite heroes.  Everything about it – from the villain, to plot, to the art (especially Esad Ribic’s) just clicked on every level.  When my local shop put up their poster for The Unworthy Thor, my interest was piqued.  I mean, Aaron just gets the character of Odinson (the god previously known as Thor), so I was looking forward to another series centering on the Thor from God of Thunder.

Let’s just say that Aaron knocks this book out of the park.  I haven’t been following the most recent Thor series, but I’ve kept up with the overall story.  This book opens with Odinson in a Sisyphean struggle to regain a Mjolnir (I say a Mjolnir because the cover shows the hammer carried by the Ultimates Thor), before going back three months to show us how he got in this predicament.  Both the recap and the main story have that sense of epicness that I felt was lost when the title transitioned away from Odinson.  I am not saying the other Thor was not good, just that Odinson has that extra mythological oomph that really pulls me in.

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Aaron is not the only Thor alum on this creative team either.  Olivier Coipel worked on several issues of J. Michael Straczynski’s run – the one that features Asgardia hovering over Broxton, Oklahoma.  This little geographical tidbit endears me to that title.  Because my family is from Oklahoma, and I love that fact that some podunk town in the Midwest had the gods of Asgard living alongside them.  Seriously though, I was reading that series while visiting my family in Oklahoma and thought about going to Broxton just for fun, but Google Maps showed nothing but farmland.  I didn’t even see a small-town diner.  Aaaanyway, it’s really awesome to have Coipel back in action.  I loved to see his take on this new version of Thor, and it’s fantastic.  There is a lot more realism in the art this time around, which is a necessity with the overall style, and Coipel just nails it.  The fight scenes are visceral, and the moonscape is damn near mythological in scope.

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The art team also includes Russell Dauterman who is responsible for the pages in the preview.  His art is freaking beautiful.  The small battle scene that opens the book is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself.  In a lot of ways, his art reminds me of a less stylized Juan Jose Ryp, and I love his art too.

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When it’s all said and done, The Unworthy Thor #1 is a great start to a new series.  There have only been a few books that immediately grabbed me and had me texting my comic shop owner to add it to my pull before the pages have shut.  Kudos to Aaron and the rest of the creative team for bringing the thunder in Thor’s continued quest to regain his hammer.

 

Music Pairing:
I am not as well versed in music as my fellow 4LNers Stephen and Bill, but I did find listening to Immediate’s Trailerhead:Saga a good fit for the mythic scope of this title.

Scumdogs of the Multiverse: An Interview with GWAR Comics Writer Matt Miner

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I’m a huge GWAR fan. The first time I ever heard them was on the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack, when I was like 15. My dad took me to see the movie and afterwards we went looking for the soundtrack. Once we found it I noticed a few bands that I was sort of familiar with, like Megadeth and Anthrax, but most of them I didn’t really know. I grew up in a “religious” household so R-rated movies and heavy metal weren’t a part of my life until my teen years (which, come to think about it, might actually still be normal even for kids who didn’t grow up in church), and so this was a real turning point for me. After listening to the whole CD a few times I found a couple songs that I really gravitated toward. One was “Crush ‘Em” by Megadeth, and the other was “Sadam A Go-Go“, by GWAR. There was just something about it that I loved so much. I started buying GWAR albums every time I got allowance money, and I’ve been a “Bohab” ever since.

As you all probably already know, earlier this week it was announced that The Scumdogs of the Universe themselves, the unholy GWAR, would be putting out their very own comic! A Kickstarter was launched, and mass pandemonium ensued. Here at 4LN, we were lucky enough to get ahold of Mr. Matt Miner, who has assembled the creative team and is handling writing duties on GWAR the Comic, AKA “Orgasmageddon”, and we asked him about his career, how this gore-tastic project came to be, and coffee. Check out our convo below!

 

 

4LN: When did you first get into comics? Was it something you discovered as a kid, or later on in life?

Matt Miner: Like I presume is true with most comic readers, it’s something I got into as a kid. I was that quintessential bullied young kid who escaped into a world of comics, punk and heavy metal, cartoons, computers (before they were cool), D&D, and pretty much every other nerdy thing I could find.

 

4LN: How did you initially get started writing comics professionally?

Matt: A few years ago. I kind of had an epiphany that was like “hey, dummy, you’ve always wanted to write professionally and you love comics, so why the Hell aren’t you writing comics?” I bought a bunch of books on comic writing, comic art, screenwriting, etc – I went and took a class from Scott Snyder – I took it seriously and went all in.

 

4LN: Your newest project has set the internet all abuzz since it was announced. You’ve partnered with the almighty GWAR for a Kickstarter project that would see them spill their brutality into the comic book world. I’m dying to know how this collaboration came to be.

Matt: Well, remember when I said I was a bullied kid who was into nerdy shit? Enter my love of GWAR that has remained for more than half my life, now. Back when I got into comics I had this idea that I wanted to do GWAR comics some day, if there was any possible way. I knew I was too new in the comics world back then, but after a few years in and several series under my belt I decided the time was right to approach them. I went down to Richmond and a mutual friend made the intros and we went from there.

 

Issue 1 standard cover - art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, color by Josh Jensen

 

4LN: The preview pages look incredible, and those #1 variants are amazing. Can you tell us a little about the rest of the creative team you’re working with on “Orgasmageddon”?

Matt: Sure! Jonathan Brandon Sawyer is a buddy who worked with me on Critical Hit, a book we did at Black Mask. He’s a punk and metal guy and when I started getting serious about pitching a GWAR book to the band, I went to him first. I love working with him and I think we make good comics together. When looking for colorists in my circle of friends, my first question was “are you a GWAR fan?” before I’d continue – I wanted to be sure most everyone working on the book is a fan who “gets it.” Lo and behold, Marissa Louise digs GWAR and man, her colors are just something else, especially on Jonathan’s lines. Taylor Esposito is a pal and a hell talented letterer who’s working with me on another book right now and he brought some really cool stylistic choices to the GWAR pages to give folks like Sawborg Destructo and Mr. Perfect a really unique looking voice. The only person who wasn’t already a fan was the editor Brendan Wright, but that choice was by design. It’s important that people who aren’t familiar with the band, and are just fans of good comics, can jump right into these books and have a great time. I knew from his work editing Archie vs. Predator and the Grindhouse books that he’d understand the spirit of the GWAR books and be a great fit on the team.

 

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4LN: It seems like more bands and musicians are jumping into the comics world these days. Four Year Strong and The Devil Wears Prada both produced comics to go along with projects they put out, Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) basically runs his own imprint at DC, and even Slayer have jumped into the game with a comic based on their album “Repentless” coming out later this year. Not to mention, your “Liberator” project with hardcore legends Earth Crisis from a couple of years ago. What do you think has caused this shift in the landscape for music and comics that has opened both mediums up for more collaborative pursuits?

Matt: A friend of mine nailed this down the other day – right now we’re at a time when punk rock and comics are kind of overlapping, and the people who were spiky haired punks in their youth are creating comics now. The venn diagram of comics fans and punk and metal fans is overlapping a lot and I love it. There’s not a lot I’m more passionate about than dog rescue, writing, and punk rock and metal music.

 

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4LN: This next set of questions is our Lightning Round (short, mostly random questions; gut answers) Well I obviously have to ask, what’s your favorite GWAR Album? (I have to go with “Violence Has Arrived“, personally.)
Matt: Mine’s still “Scumdogs of the Universe” though I really love “Battle Maximus”. Their sound evolves but stays true to its roots.

4LN: What current comic should people definitely be reading?
Matt: Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol is one that comes to mind right away. I like Gerard, I like his comics.

4LN: I couldn’t think of a good enough question to work them in, but do you remember Caninus?
Matt: More dogs in bands, please. Woof.

4LN: Who actually has “The World’s Best Cup Of Coffee”?
Matt: I make a pretty great cup, myself. In fact, it’s about that time.

4LN: What was the last horror movie you watched?
Matt: Last one was Wes Craven’s Shocker, but last new one was probably The Witch or Conjuring 2. Most fun I’ve had with a horror movie lately is Deathgasm, hands down. Any GWAR fan would love that one.

4LN: Finally, After having worked with both Earth Crisis and GWAR, if you had your choice of band to collaborate on a comic with who would you choose?
Matt: Iron Maiden. Right? Right.

 

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to Matt for chatting with us! Click that Kickstarter link up at the top of the page to support “Orgasmageddon” and help make GWAR comics a reality!

Who Should Direct Deadpool 2?

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It was recently announced that Tim Miller, the director of Deadpool, had left the film’s sequel due to the commonly used explanation of “creative differences.” Apparently there just happened to be so many people simultaneously trying not to do any work, or pay attention to their loved ones, and therefore this seemingly innocuous news sent the internet into eruption! “MY GOD HOW WILL WE GO ON!” I myself wasn’t immune to the uproar. I believe my initial reaction, without having all the details, was mostly a barrage of expletive-laced insults aimed at the FOX executives. Then upon hearing that it was actually “creative differences” with Deadpool star, and all-around great guy, Ryan Reynolds my insults redirected from FOX execs and took aim at Miller himself. I’m #TeamReynolds all the way and I will not stand for that s**t. Finally, I ate a Snickers, calmed my tits, and reminded myself that this is all just business and there’s no cause for alarm. Tim Miller did a phenomenal job on Deadpool, but the extent of his involvement on the sequel, at this point anyway, was script work. He hadn’t actually signed on to direct yet anyway, so it’s not quite as crucial as myself, and all the other bored neckbeards made it out to be.

(Side note: There are also rumors that his departure could have been due to a disagreement with FOX over what the budget of the film should be.)

Then came the petition… Apparently, some asshat thought it would be a good idea to get people all riled up over the possibility of Quentin Tarantino taking on directing duties for Deadpool 2. First: sit the f**k down, Tarantino wouldn’t do this in a million years, or for any amount of money that FOX could possibly afford. Second: His style is so different from the tone of Deadpool that it would never feel right. Just because someone is a good film-maker doesn’t mean that they should do everything you want them too. I love The Witch, but it wouldn’t be a good idea for the director, Robert Eggers, to take on a Spider-Man film, because what he’s great at and what the nature of that character requires are two completely different things. (Although, I will say, I bet he could direct the s**t out of a Morbius short film. Get at me, Rob. I gots some ideas fo ya.)

Apparently, people are also throwing out names like Mathew Vaughn, Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright (OK this one I could actually see working out), and even Seth Rogen & Adam Goldberg. Plus, there’s people out there who are clearly great at action-comedies, like Paul Feig and Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Again, all great people who have done great work, but none of them have quite the right… Je Ne Sais Quoi… to capture what Deadpool requires.

So where does that leave us… Well, just who would be qualified to direct Deadpool 2? Deadpool was Tim Miller’s first time directing. That was a gamble with a YUGE payoff in the end. For the sequel you want someone who has at least a couple projects under their belt; someone with a fresh perspective, who has proven that they can at least maintain the tone of the first film but also add their own special touch and expand beyond what we’ve already seen. They also need to be able to sync well with Ryan  Reynolds, because the man IS Deadpool. He rightly deserves to have at least half of the creative input for the character since he’s the man under the mask. Plus, Deadpool 2 has to be literally the funniest f**king movie on the planet.

I have scoured my brain to bring you a list of “up-and-comers” and some established filmmakers who I believe have the ability and vision to take Wade by his tiny baby hand and walk with him into the world of “Successful Sequels That Are At Least Comparable The First.” (We’re still working on that label name.) The list in no particular order is as follows:

 

Tommy Wirkola

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Wirkola would be most known for writing and directing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. A film that, while didn’t garner much critical acclaim, was received decently by audiences, as it made over $225 million off of a budget of about $50 million. What you may not know is that he’s also responsible for the cult hits Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. Both films have been massive critical successes. Wirkola knows how to make a funny movie with an balanced level of action and fright. Not that Deadpool 2 would need the added fear-factor, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to have someone around who has a knack for it, especially if they wanted to introduce lesser known villains like Black Talon or Slayback.

 

Eli Craig

Craig started out acting in films like The Rage: Carrie 2, and Space Cowboys, where he played the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ character Hawk. He went on to make the brilliant and hilarious Tucker and Dale vs Evil in 2010. After that film turned out to be a critical hit he was tapped to helm the pilot for the Zombieland TV show. That wasn’t quite as well received. I maintain that this is in no way a misstep on Craig’s part. Look, SOMEBODY was gonna make that show. He gave it his absolute best and there are some quality jokes in there, but recreating the dynamic of that phenomenal cast with actors you can pay a whole lot less was always gonna be a problem, and there was nothing he could’ve done about that. (He’s currently shooting a film titled Little Evil, with Evangeline Lily and Adam Scott, that not much is known about.) T&D is one of the funniest horror-comedies that’s ever been made, and I think Craig absolutely has what it takes to keep Deadpool’s middle-school sense of humor feeling fresh while capturing intense, smaller scale action sequences.

 

Rawson Marshall Thurber

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Not only is Thurber a handsome bastard the will steal not only your girlfriend but your sister, mom, cute aunt, ugly aunt, AND gam-gam, he’s also a seasoned writer and director with films like We’re The Millers and Central Intelligence in his repertoire. Oh yeah, and a little movie called DODGEBALL. Ever heard of it? Of course you’ve f***ing heard of it. It’s the actual definition of awesome. It solidified Vince Vaughn’s place as a comedy juggernaut, gave us the closest thing we’d ever get to Ben Stiller replaying Tony Perkis, and might be one of Rip Torn’s all-time best performances ever. Central Intelligence came out earlier this year and has already secured a spot as one of the best action-comedies this decade. Even We’re The Millers was a massive financial success, making $270 million off of a budget of $37 million. The guy knows funny, plus he’s proven he can craft an action film, AND who wouldn’t want to see that dapper fella standing next to Ryan Reynolds on the red carpet…?

 

David Gordon Green

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Green is easily the most experienced of this bunch. He’s produced several comedy series, including Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, and he directed Pineapple Express, which has some of the best lines Danny McBride has ever delivered on screen, and is also responsible (alongside Hot Fuzz and Tropic Thunder) for reigniting the R-rated Action/Comedy craze we’ve been enjoying. He’s also the brains behind the movie Joe, from a few years ago, which saw Nic Cage give his best performance since… hell, I don’t know… Adaptation? If he can do THAT, he can do ANYTHING. Green is a master of making funnier things either remain as funny or be funnier, plus he has an understanding of how to apply action movie dynamics to that formula. He also, however, knows how to make a dramatic film with tension, and Wade has some things in his past, some very emotionally heavy things, that would be brutal to see explored on screen alongside all the brain-exploding-headshots and fart jokes. It’s all about balance, people.

 

Christopher Landon

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You’re looking at that name and you’re all, “Landon… Landon… that sounds so familiar.” Well, you’re right. Chris is the son of Bonanza‘s own “Little Joe”, Michael Landon. Hollywood heritage aside, Christopher is an extremely talented writer and director. He wrote Disturbia (No, not that one. This one.), as well as many of the Paranormal Activity films, and he even directed Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The main reason he makes my list, though, is Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. That movie made made me laugh so hard, and it had some really incredible small-medium scale stunts that I think show he’s capable of taking on bigger ones. The humor of that flick though, man, it almost dead on matches the humor of Deadpool, which is just basically just grown-ups making middle school style jokes with adult content, and Scouts is high-schoolers making middle school style jokes with adult content, so… I think you catch my drift.

 

Jason Lei Howden

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Howden isn’t just the final name on my list chronologically, he was actually a last minute addition entirely. While I was researching some other films mentioned above I was reminded of his directorial debut Deathgasm, and decided to look into his past work more. Now, Deathgasm is probably one of my favorite movies of the last few years, and not just because it revolves around dudes who play in a black/death metal band (I’m a HUGE metalhead), or because it’s one of the most beautifully gruesome horror movies to grace the screen in years. Well… OK, maybe it’s entirely because of both of those things. But once I began researching Howden’s career I instantly realized why he’d be perfect to take on Deadpool 2. See, Howden was a part of the visual effects teams on films such as Man of SteelGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, and The Wolverine; as well as Prometheus, and all 3 Hobbit films. I mean… right? Say what you will about some of these flicks, but it’s 100% undeniable that they are all massive visual accomplishments. Tim Miller also had visual effects work in his background before taking on Deadpool. (He worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and was the second-unit director on Thor: The Dark World.) When you think back to that car chase/crash sequence, or the ending where the “helicarrier” comes crashing down and all the insanity of that, and what must’ve gone into visualizing those scene… It starts to make sense that someone with that skill set would be a perfect choice. Plus, much like with Scouts Guide, Howden proves in Deathgasm that he can capture “lewd” humor in way that doesn’t feel like you’re just hearing the same 4 dick and fart jokes over and over, which is something Deadpool also easily achieved. Plus again, I just really like the idea of the director of Deadpool 2 being a metalhead so that there’s a possibility for a Cryptopsy cameo. (They’re Canadian just like Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool! THIS HAS TO HAPPEN.)

 

Look, I get that at this point there may seem like no perfect choice. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t even have complete faith in *all* of my picks. There was no way of knowing how it would work out with Miller on the original though, and I think that risk is what made Deadpool so exciting and such a success. They threw caution to the wind and made a bat-s**t-crazy flick with outlandish humor and excessive violence and now it’s, among many other accolades, the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. So let’s just all try to agree that a lower-profile director provides us the best chance at risky film-making which in turn provides us the biggest opportunity for a grand payoff. Or, I guess, it also provides us the best chance for a massive failure… huh. S**t.