Four Letter Nerd

Category - Comics

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.

4LN Comic Review: Darth Vader #25

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Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Page Count: 46
Price: $5.99

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Summary from Comixology: “It has all built up to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids! All comes to fruition in an ending you can’t miss!” (Not from Comixology but should be stated immediately, that cover is f*cking awesome.)

Darth Vader has been my favorite of all the Star Wars books since it’s release in February of last year. Darth Vader #25 is the perfect end to one of the best books being published. This book is a lot like Breaking Bad, I’m saddened that it had to come to an end, but I’m glad it didn’t drag out and become a chore to keep up with (*cough* Son’s Of Anarchy *cough*). Kieron Gillen understood the character of Darth Vader so well that he makes it completely unbelievable that Hayden Christensen could become the Sith Lord.

This issue was full of perfect conclusions for a 25 issue long story. My fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew and I agree that Vader Down had one of the most BRUTAL comic book lines in a long time, but I now believe that the most brutal line of Darth Vader was said in this final issue. There are two moments in this book that left my jaw literally hanging open because I just couldn’t believe how ruthless Darth Vader truly is. I want to go into detail, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers that will take away from the experience of reading this issue.

From beginning to end, Salvador Larroca’s art has been absolutely prepossessing and captures the grandness of space and Star Wars. From epic outer space light saber battles to intimate character designs, Larroca has thoroughly brought Darth Vader back to life in comics. When it comes to writing a villain, Kieron Gillen is truly one of the best writers for that bracket of characters. Gillen does a fantastic job of writing part of a story that we all know (I.E. Vader can’t die yet because we aren’t at Return Of The Jedi yet), but still leaving suspense and wonder with what will happen with all characters involved. Looking back on this book now that it’s over, I couldn’t think of a better creative team for it. Gillen and Larroca truly worked elegantly together.

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From issue one to twenty-five, Darth Vader has been one hell of a roller-coaster and full of surprises. I am really disappointed to see my preferred Star Wars book come to an end, but I’m also excited for whatever becomes the next on-going Star Wars book (crossing my fingers for Boba Fett or Kylo Ren).

(Writer’s Note: This review was written before the announcement that Doctor Aphra would be landing her own SW ongoing title)

Thanks for 25 distinguished issues of Darth Vader Salvador Larroca & Kieron Gillen. If you haven’t been reading Darth Vader, now is not the best jumping on point, since this is the epic conclusion; but, you will not be disappointed if you hunt down the previous issues (or trades) because they will be entirely worth the price. In my honest unabashedly biased opinion, this is one of the best final issues from Marvel. Ever.

Also, the book is $5.99 which really blows, but it is more pages than a typical issue, and part of that is an epic mini issue in the back about Darth Vader slaughtering Tusken Raiders while killing time on Tattooine waiting for a couple bounty hunters. Made it worth the extra couple dollars.

Music Pairing:
John Williams, like all Star Wars book reviews.

4LN Comic Review – The Chimera Brigade #1

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Series: The Chimera Brigade
Written by: Serge Lehman & Fabrice Colin
Art by: Gess, with Colors by Celine Bessonneau
Publisher: Titans Comics

Summary from Comixology: “Is the time for morality lessons truly over? The year is 1938, and a new generation of super-humans, born as a side effect of secret chemical weapons, have taken control of the capital cities of Europe… The Age of Super-science has arrived. A stunning period cross between The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planetary and B.P.R.D. Beliefs can be as powerful as super-science – and just as deadly!”

The Chimera Brigade #1

 

Chimera Brigade is a new book from Titan Comics that is set in 1938, which, for you non history buffs, is the year before World War 2. It is a comic about several people who have gotten superpowers from science during The Great War (World War 1) like X-rays, poisonous gases, and radium. Without giving the book away, it follows a character who is the daughter of a scientist who researched and treated these super humans. She goes into a special meeting in an underground facility with all of the other super humans from around the globe trying to figure out who this Dr. M character is and his plans. Of course crap hits the fan because duh it’s what happens in comics! Some of the super powers that were shown in this issue were super speed, metamorphosis, seeing in the dark, and there’s a mysterious American who no one knows his powers. If you are a fan of spies, espionage, super powers, and history this book is for you. I really enjoy reading history and it was pretty awesome seeing a new take on it with some secret superheroes! This issue is out today (10/12/16) and I implore all of you comic loving super hero history buffs to pick this one up and try it out! If you can’t make it down to your local comic shop then get it digitally by clicking the Comixology link at the top of the page. Check out a few preview pages below, and if you read it let us know what you thought down in the comments!

 

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(Editor’s Note: This review was written by guest contributor, Tyler Haines. Make sure to check out his YouTube Channel!)

4LN Comic Review: Cannibal #1

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Series- Cannibal
Written by Jennifer Young & Brian Buccellato
Art by Matias Bergara
Publisher- Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “A BRAND NEW SERIES! From New York Times bestselling writer BRIAN BUCCELLATO & JENNIFER YOUNG, CANNIBAL is about the denizens of a small Everglades town desperately trying to hold onto their everyday lives at the dawn of a cannibal pandemic. With no cure in sight, the region has become split over what to do with the victims, though for Cash and Grady Hansen the answer is simple: Kill them. But all of that changes when the virus begins to infect people they love.”

Cannibal #1

Brian Buccellato is probably most well known for his amazing color work in comics (which he graces the pages of Cannibal with as well), but he’s also a brilliant writer & storyteller as well, tackling series’ like The Flash and Detective Comics. Probably… no, DEFINITELY, my favorite thing he’s ever done is Sons of the Devil, which is also published by Image. There’s a really gritty vibe to it, and the 70’s era flashbacks give it this The Omen/The Exorcist feel which I just can’t get enough of. Cannibal is a different beast altogether. It maintains a similar family-at-the-center vibe, but it’s much more expanded in its overall tone. Where the urgency in SOTD mostly only effects a focused-on group of individuals, Cannibal’s setting is one where everyone has been affected by an urgency, but as the readers we’re only seeing the story that revolves around a focused-on group of individuals.

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I have family all strewn about in small Florida towns, so there’s a lot for me to relate to in Cannibal’s setting. The ornery southern attitudes and alcohol soaked temperaments of the characters is almost comforting. Not that comparison’s are always an effective way to describe something, but… if I *were* to compare Cannibal to other comics, I would probably say that it feels like Southern Bastards meets The Walking Dead. Down-home country folk, stubborn as a pack of mules, trying to navigate through the new way the world is but mostly refusing to accept reality.

Sharing in the writing duties, with Brian, is Jennifer Young. She was an editor on SOTD, but, as far as I can, tell this seems to be her first time out as a creator. The two share a creative dynamic that melds seamlessly, because there’s nothing, at least not in this first issue, that makes you feel like the book is torn in different directions.

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As I mentioned above, Brian does the color work on Cannibal, but all the pencils and inks are done by Matias Bergara, whose previously comic experience includes series’ such as Sons of Anarchy, and American Vampire. His style seems to blend cartoon-ish expressionism with more modern comic layering structure. You can tell he puts a lot of work into creating depth in his panels. My favorite page in the entire issue is page 7, which is also the title page I guess, and it’s just after the cannibalistic-burdened gentlemen you see in these preview pages devours the poor bus boy. The look on his face is guilt-stricken, and he’s covered in blood that is also dripping off of the deck and into the swap water below. It’s both gruesome and beautiful.

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The most ingenuous element of Cannibal is that the Cannibals don’t want to be. They’re affected by a virus that forces them to crave eating human flesh. Not only is that the most original take on apocalyptic horror you’re ever going to hear, but it almost feels like a metaphor for addiction. I’m not saying that’s what this creative team intended, but having seen my own family impacted by addiction in the past, I see similarities in what this sickness does to the host. It makes you do things you don’t want to do. You try to stop but you can’t. And, even when you beg people to get out of the way so that they don’t get hurt, they sometimes still do, and the addicted is left carrying the weight of what they’ve done. Maybe I’m over-analyzing it, but why not pick up a copy for yourself and see what you think.

Cannibal is on comic shelves right now, so head down to your local shop and grab one! You can also get it digitally by clicking on the Comixology link at the top of the page!

 

Music Pairing –
I decided to make you guys a mix of “Cannibal” themed songs for this music pairing because it was just too perfect and easy…

 

4LN Comic Review – Black #1

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Series: Black
Writer: Kwanza Osajyefo
Art: Tim Smith III, Jamal Igle (Pencils), Robin Riggs (Inks), Sarah Stern (Colors), Dave Sharpe (Cover)
Cover: Khary Randolph
Editor: Sarah Litt
Publisher: Black Mask

Summary from COMIXOLOGY: “IT’S HERE! The comic that blazed through Kickstarter during Black History Month 2016. In a world that already hates and fears them — what if only Black people had superpowers. After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.”

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up this comic. Being a 30something, middle-class white guy who lives in a southern suburb, I’d already resolved myself to the idea that I probably wasn’t going to relate to the story. I do believe, however, that not relating to a story should never keep you from enjoying or experiencing it. I’ve never been stranded alone on Mars, and forced to farm potatoes by using my own excrement, but that sure as s**t didn’t stop me from loving The Martian.

Black #1 just jumps right into the story. Initially being told through the eyes of a beat cop who witnesses a group of her fellow officers unjustifiably shooting down a trio of young black men, who just so happen to match the generic description of some robbery suspects, and then eventually transitions to a first person view of our emerging main protagonist, Kareem Jenkins.

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The pacing of this first issue is great for an introduction. We see Kareem meet a team of other people like him who can offer him answers and an opportunity to explore his newfound powers. There’s also several characters introduced that I’m sure we’ll be getting to know more about as the plot continues to unfold. This first issue cliffhangers very subtly, and just enough to intrigue you without divulging anything major. I wasn’t very familiar with Kwanza Osajyefo before reading this, I understand he did a lot of editorial work for Marvel and DC, but I’m very impressed with how he’s started the story he’s telling and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

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Now, I believe that if you looked back enough, you could find documentation of me on the record saying that I do not like black & white comics. Hell, I’m pretty sure I just said it one of our recent podcasts. However… I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m eating crow on this one. Black is a black & white series and It never bothered me even once. This art team is like the comic art version of the Power Rangers, or the Captain Planet Planeteers. By their powers combined, this artwork is precise and perfectly balanced. Great line-work, great shading, and some absolutely incredible panels. The one in particular, where you see Kareem and his friends getting shot by the cops is especially intense. It’s made even more intense by the thought that, while he did, it’s possible Kareem’s friends didn’t come back to life. (Also, just take a look at the cover for issue #2 and try not to be emotionally affected. I dare you. If you aren’t then you’re soulless.)

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Comics are an excellent tool for escaping the real world and being able to, if only for a little while, hide from the deluge of negativity. At some point though, the escape has to be acknowledged as something more than that. Just telling us that everything is OK and there’s nothing to be afraid of isn’t enough because that isn’t true. There are plenty of “escape from reality” comics out there for you to choose from, but, while it does utilize fantasy to do so, Black chooses displays what is the painful reality for a huge portion of the American population. It isn’t “negative” to acknowledge that reality. Truth isn’t negative or positive. It is simply truth, plain and simple.

The potential social/political impact of Black is undeniable. “What if only black people had superpowers.” In a world where there are reports of black men, women, and children being killed by police almost daily, that premise is a pursuit to incite hope. I wondered why this story was just coming out now, but then I realized that this is an unfortunate result of our current state of society. Giving the black community a character like Kareem that they can relate to who survived being shot by police shouldn’t be necessary. But it is. We live in a time where it’s crucial that people take a stand against injustice, while at the same time inspiring faith. Black #1 sets out on a path to do just that. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but this first issue instills confidence that it can be done.

You can pick up a copy of Black #1 at your local shop today (unless they’re all sold out), or you can get it digitally by clicking the Comixology link at the top of the page!

 

Music Pairing –

I decided to go with two artists here because both of them felt right, depending on what era of hip-hop you’re more likely to relate to. For the new school I feel like Vic Mensa’s new album, “There’s A Lot Going On”, is a good example of raw honesty and focusing frustration at what’s going on in our world today. For the old school I picked Mos Def’s “Black on Both Sides”. A great representation of strengthening and empowering black culture in a world that either fears or hijacks it.

4LN Comic Review: Trinity #1

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Series: Trinity
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul
Inker: Francis Manapul

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Summary from Comixology: “BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World’s Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?”

This is the series that I have been most excited for regarding the DC Rebirth comics. I was instantly sold on this book just by finding out that Francis Manapul was doing the art for the book. If you aren’t familiar with his work, then you need to pick this book up just for the art alone. For $2.99 you won’t pick up another book as beautiful as this one. For those of you not familiar with Manapul he’s known for his work on other DC books such as New 52 Flash, Justice League, and my personal favorite Batman Detective (Icarus). If you are a fan of bright colors and crisp sharp line work, then Francis Manapul is the comic book artist you’ve been looking for!

The story of Trinity could be a bit confusing for those of us not following the Superman comic at the moment. The gist of what’s going on with Superman is: He’s from a different timeline. When he ended up in this universe, he decided that he wanted to stay on the down-low. New Clark and Lois Lane have a farm in Califonia where they are raising their son who is beginning to learn that his father is Superman, and he has superhuman abilities. After knowing this, it will make reading Trinity all that much easier to understand.

I think my absolute favorite part of this book were the three full page spreads that each of our heroes received. Wonder Woman arriving on the field with a boar and her invisible jet was one of my absolute favorite scenes in this comic. I’ve always loved Cliff Chiang’s and Frank Cho’s take on Diana Prince, but after reading this issue… Francis Manapul might draw my favorite Wonder Woman. It’s just so beautiful, The Batman and Superman splashes are equally as beautiful but I think you’ll greatly appreciate seeing it for yourself instead of having me describe for to you. (See our Review of Superman #7)

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Besides the art, Manapul does a fantastic job with telling the story. This series starts with Bruce and Diana coming to the farm to talk to and get to know, Clark and Lois along with their son. Batman isn’t very trusting but Diana wants to accept them for who they are and believes in time they will become as close of allies as they were with the original Superman. Manapul also does a fantastic job writing some comedy into this book so that it’s not so rigid and series. Bruce makes a comment about Clark’s son sleeping and looking so innocent. I couldn’t help but laugh and imagine Bruce watching Damien sleep and thinking/wishing he was innocent and a typical 10-year-old. Also, Bruce Wayne in plaid is a pretty hilarious image. Along with comedy, Manapul also makes references to much older DC Comics events, and some of the very interesting style choices that Batman made in the 60’s.

Overall, if you are a fan of DC’s Superhero trinity, this is the book for you. Manapul leaves many questions when you come to the conclusion of the issue, and you are going to be coming back to find out what the answers to those questions are. And, you’ll be itching for more beautiful Francis Manapul art come next month. So, head down to your local comic shop and pick this up before you live to regret it!

Music Pairing:
One of my favorite bands in an instrumental post-rock band called Balmorhea from Austin Texas. Their album All Is Wild, All Is Silent is absolutely beautiful and matches the art in the book perfect. So, spin the opening track from that album while reading this book. It’ll be a perfect fit.

4LN Comic Review: Superman #7

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Series: Superman
Writer: Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jiminez, with colors by Alejandro Sanchez
Publisher: DC Comics

Summary from Comixology: “‘SON OF SUPERMAN’ part 7! In this epilogue issue, Superman considers the toll his battles with the Eradicator and Doomsday have taken on his family and the need for a normal life. But can the Man of Steel ever take a day off?”

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I love Superman.  If I had to choose just one superhero to helm my pantheon of favorite superheroes, it would definitely be him.  Unfortunately, outside of a couple of great arcs, the comics have been weak.  Like, the kind of weak Superman gets when he mainlines kryptonite under a red sun.  The N52 Superman was an attempt (I assume) to make the Big Blue Boyscout more edgy, and, for me anyways, it was really, really hard to read.  Luckily, DC’s Rebirth initiative has been pretty fantastic.  I picked up Superman on the off chance that it would do the Man of Steel justice.

What do you think of when I say a comic is “wholesome”? Sunday newspapers? Charlie Brown and Garfield?  Wholesome might be a major selling point for a superhero comic, especially in the age we live in, but I can’t think of another word for this issue.  And you know what?  I loved it.  As the summary above describes, this issue finds Superman realizing that his wife and son deserve some level of normalcy so he joins them on a trip to the county fair.  The simple story is accompanied by some really strong art, especially the short action sequence at the very beginning.  All told, this issue, while not for everybody, was a lighthearted Superman story that reminded me a lot of Superman for All Seasons, which is one of my all time favorite comics.

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I think what appeals to me most about this series is that it really puts an emphasis on the hopefulness of Superman.  This book is about him trying to be as good of a father and husband as he can, while figuring out his place in this universe’s world (quick side note: the New52 edgy, t-shirt wearing Superman died at the end of the New52 run. This is the pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark from a different universe. They ended up in the N52 Superman’s universe somehow during Convergence. Anyway, this is why they are laying low in a small town in California). The optimistic tone stands in stark contrast to a lot of the previous Superman series’ and it’s been a joy to read them.  Parts 1-6 are great and are worth a read, so I won’t spoil them here, but 7, which serves as an epilogue, stands on its own.  It’s the reader’s chance to breathe after the Eradicator tried to do what his name suggests (and his name sure as hell doesn’t suggest that he makes bagels for a living).  It also serves as a fantastic jumping on point for new readers, since it doesn’t necessitate one go back and read the previous issues to fully grasp what’s happening (but I really liked those books, so I suggest you go back and read them as well).

It really feels like Peter J. Tomasi and company have their collective finger on the pulse of what makes Superman such a great character, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store in the upcoming arc.  One thing is for sure, Superman benefited greatly from DC’s Rebirth.

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