Four Letter Nerd

Category - Comics

4LN Comic Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 1 TPB

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 1 TPB
Written by Kyle Higgins and Steve Orlando
Art by Hendry Prasetya and Corin Howell, with colors by Matt Herms and Jeremy Lawson
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Summary from BOOM! Studios:

  • Dive into the first collection of our best-selling, modern, ongoing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.
  • After escaping Rita Repulsa’s mind control, Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, joins the Power Rangers to combat the onslaught of evil attacks plaguing Angel Grove. Any semblance of a normal life is gone for Tommy now, but with his newfound family there lies hope for a brighter path.
  • Collects issues #1-4, plus the prequel issue #0.

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Like many kids born in the late ’80s, I was obsessed with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers growing up.  Many a recess was spent fighting Rita’s putties, and can we just talk about merchandising?  I had the 8″ figures, the Megazord, Dragonzord, the figures with the heads that flipped out of a compartment in their chest, various bedspreads/blankets, and the still-good Mighty Morphin Power Rangers videogame for the Sega Genesis (which I play with my three-year-old now).  What I am trying to say is that I was a bit of a fan of the first batch of Rangers, and the nostalgic part of my brain (a majority of my brain) was very interested to see what Higgins and Co could do with this colossal franchise.

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Previously on 4LN, I reviewed the first issue of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS and thought that it was a great first issue filled with nerdstalgia from the original show.  The next three issues (and the #0 that I missed) fit well into that narrative.  Kyle Higgins does a fantastic job capturing the tone of the old episodes, while also updating them a bit so they don’t feel dated.  Like, the characters reference servers, have cell phones that aren’t the size of bricks, and even deal with more modern issues like the way PTSD effects people, but also talk just like they did in the ’90s.  While that might be jarring to some MMPR purists out there (and you know they are out there), I felt it was handled in a way that was respectful of the original content.  Higgins is a good writer, and he brings his A-game to this series.

This particular arc finds Tommy, still haunted by his actions as a pawn of Rita Repulsa, dealing with his struggle to find his place in the team.  Jason and Zack don’t yet trust him, and Rita is constantly in the back of his head causing him to doubt himself.  It would have fit perfectly as a multi-part episode that took place directly after the “Green With Evil” five-parter from the original show.  The characters interactions with one another feel spot on, and we see all sorts of notables from the show, like Scorpina (who plays a pretty big role), Finster, the putties, an exiled Goldar, and, of course, Bulk and Skull.

Moving on, let’s talk about the art.  There are some panels in this volume that are just fantastic.  The art teams absolutely nails the Rangers, the monsters, and the Zords.  While the scenes that take place out of uniform are light-hearted, for the most part, and almost cartoony (not in a bad way), the fights are gritty and paced perfectly.  There was never a moment where the action was confusing.  The best part by far is when we see the team morph for the first time.  I could just hear that opening guitar riff playing in the background, and it was perfect.  I was also excited to see all of the awesome cover art included in this trade paperback.  The regular covers, as well as the variants, include some amazing takes on the Rangers, and would’ve been plastered all over my bedroom walls when I was a kid (and probably would be now if my wife would let me).

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Look, if you are a fan of the original show, you need to check out this series, and the first volume is the perfect place to start.  This creative team is in tune with what made the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers a cultural phenomenon in the 90’s, and this just might be one of BOOM!’s best series out right now.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers vol. 1 hits the stands on September 14, 2016, and will be sure to bring back a little magic from your childhood.

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4LN Comic Review: Skybourne #1

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Series: Skybourne
Written and Drawn by: Frank Cho, with Colors by Marcio Menyz
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Summary from Comixology: “A new, original series from celebrated creator Frank Cho (Totally Awesome Hulk, Savage Wolverine)! Full of fast-paced action, Skybourne is Indiana Jones meets James Bond with fantasy elements thrown in. Cho describes it as “one of the most cinematic stories I’ve envisioned.” The legend of King Arthur is alive and well in modern day. Only one man, Skybourne, can stop the evil Merlin from destroying the world.”

Skybourne #1

 

Frank Cho is one those creators whose reputation oftentimes precedes him. Whether it be his “Outrage!” sketch covers, or his much publicized exit from doing Wonder Woman variants due to… we’ll say, “creative differences” with Greg Rucka. He’s maybe a little like the comic industry’s Quentin Tarantino, right down to the infamous foot fetish.

(Editor’s Note: There is no evidence that Mr. Cho has a “foot fetish” and the suggestion thereof by this writer reflects his baseless opinion only, and not that of Four Letter Nerd.)

(Writer’s Note: YOU’RE a f**king nerd, Gary.)

What I mean is, regardless of your opinion of him, he’s undeniably talented, and he’s not afraid to be himself and speak his mind without concern for how people will perceive him.

Skybourne #1

Skybourne is his newest creator owned project about a family of not-so-immortal’s who end up on the business end of some mysteriously dangerous circumstances. The majority of this first issue focuses on Grace Skybourne as she attempts to collect a mystical sword from a deal-breaking prick who fails to comprehend how much of a badass she really is. Let me see if I can help you comprehend it. One of the very first things she does when the deal goes south, is put. her arm. THROUGH… a man’s BODY. His whole f**king body. And if that’s not badass enough for you, she proceeds to do it like 18 more times and even karate chops a dude trough the mouth and separates most of his head from the rest of his head. I presume this is a move that Frank is very familiar with since he spent time working covert operations for the CIA. There’s even a rumor that he may have been a linchpin in the operation that took out Gaddafi.

(Editor’s Note: There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that Mr. Cho ever worked for the CIA, let alone had any involvement in the overthrowing of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Again, these claims are of the writer alone and do not reflect the opinions of Four Letter Nerd.)

(Writer’s Note: THERE’S NO EVIDENCE BECAUSE IT’S THE F**KING CIA, GARY! They don’t want you to know the truth! Read a book, you pathetic sheeple!)

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This is the part where I’m supposed to go into the artwork of the book, but I mean, this is Frank Cho… what can I say about a the guy’s work that hasn’t been said before? It’s hugely recognizable for how flawless it is. Every panel is like a painting, and he perfectly captures details like wrinkles around the eyes and blood splatter on… well, on everything it splatters on. His ability to capture facial expressions is incredible. The aforementioned scene of body impalement by lady-arm is made all that much better because the look on the guy’s face is priceless. Like the last thing that crossed his mind was, “Holy s**t. I was just punched all the way through the chest.” I imagine it’s a facial expression Frank saw many times when he took out terrorists for the CIA.

(Editor’s Note: On behalf of Four Letter Nerd, I would like to apologize to Mr. Cho for the outrageous accusations made by this writer, and 100% guarantee there will be consequences for his behavior.)

(Writer’s Note: Hey Gary, can you tell your wife that I left my watch in her car the other day and that I’ll pick it up from her when we meet at the Marriott off of highway 70 on Friday? Thanks Boss.)

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Skybourne is a very, as Frank describes it, cinematic story. Epic, even. It’s full of mystery and big action moments that will keep you glued til the very, surprising, end. Head down to your local comic shop today and grab a copy of Skybourne #1, or click the Comixology link at the top of the page to read it digitally.

 

Music Pairing –

I’m going with Detroit rock ‘n roll/metal band Wilson here. There’s just something about their brand of crazy, fast-paced jamming that feels right when partnered with this story.

4LN Comic Review: Glitterbomb #1

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Series: Glitterbomb
Writer: Jim Zub
Art: Djibril Morissette-Phan, with K. Michael Russell on Colors, and Letters by Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “Farrah Durante is a middle-aged actress hunting for her next gig in an industry where youth trumps experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something horrifying out beyond the water… something ready to exact revenge on the shallow celebrity-obsessed culture that’s led her astray. Fan-favorite JIM ZUB (WAYWARD, Thunderbolts) and newcomer DJIBRIL MORISSETTE-PHAN tear into the heart of Hollywood in GLITTERBOMB, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure.”

Glitterbomb #1

Hollywood is a bitch. And not like, “a strong, independent, successful woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone” kind of bitch. A “pretend to like you and then steal all your stuff and empty your bank account while you’re passed out from the spiked drink she served you” kind of bitch. Jim Zub apparently understands this very well because Glitterbomb #1 is an insightful and melancholy story about the unpredictable journey of fame and celebrity, with a gruesome supernatural twist that will both excite and engage you.

I found myself completely enthralled after literally the second page. It starts out simple enough. Some douchey Hollywood agent is laying into this poor woman, our protagonist, Farrah, and basically telling her, in the cruelest way possible, that he has no interest in representing her anymore and then well… this happens:

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I know, right?! It’s like, what in the actual f**k?! I was hooked. How could you read something like that and just be all, “Meh. I’m good.” You can’t. I’m living proof that if you witness a woman stab a man through the skull with her tongue(?) from like 4 or 5 feet away, you HAVE to know how that plays out. From here, though, what we get is more interesting. The rest of the issue goes back and tells us how Farrah ended up here in the first place. And believe me, you’ll still be left with more burning questions than answers, but then again, so is Farrah herself.

This is the first major project for artist Djibril Morissette-Phan, and you would absolutely never know it. His style and form are so precise and professional. And, he draws a mean tentacle-faced-lady-monster. (Pick up the book and you’ll see…) The color-work that K. Michael Russell adds really pulls the whole thing together. He perfectly captures mood and emotion by just using a balance of the right color tones.

Another reason I highly recommend this issue is because in the back matter of the book there is an essay contributed by Holly Raychelle Hughes (which is technically reprinted from XOJANE.com) that just completely sums up the soul-eating beast we called “Hollywood”. It’s an excellent addition because it gives the story that Jim has crafted some real-life context. Her experience was so traumatic that it forced her to walk away from the movie business altogether, and the incident didn’t even happen IN HOLLYWOOD. Not geographically anyway. Think about that. Hollywood is such a paralytic succubus that you don’t even have to physically be in the city for it to crush you. That’s insane to me.

So all-in-all, Glitterbomb #1 is a captivating start to what’s sure to be a brutal and mysterious story. Pick up a copy at your local comic shop today, or click the Comixology link at the top of the page to get it digitally right now!

 

Music Pairing –
I genuinely don’t think there’s a better pairing for this comic than Lana Del Rey. Here’s a little playlist for your listening and reading pleasure.

4LN Comic Review – Generation Zero #1 (+ Sneak Preview!)

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Series: Generation Zero
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Francis Portela
Colors by Andrew Dalhouse
Publiher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

If you have a problem… If your parents won’t help… And if your cause is worthy… Log onto network #ZERO…because Generation Zero is listening._ Years ago, the children of the experimental strike team known as Generation Zero were taken from their families by Project Rising Spirit, a private weapons contractor, and raised to be psychic soldiers. After years of taking orders, they have fought for and won their freedom. Now, the world’s most wanted teenagers have pledged to protect each other tooth and claw, while using their extraordinary abilities to right wrongs for a generation without a future… To fight for kids, just like them. One of those kids is Keisha Sherman, whose boyfriend just turned up dead after a suspicious car crash in Rook, Michigan – a newly booming tech town that sprang from rags to super-riches seemingly overnight. When Keisha makes a desperate plea into her webcam, the local high school suddenly finds itself with several unusual new students… But as word of Generation Zero’s presence spreads rapidly through the halls, this volatile band of teenage upstarts is about to discover that they’re far from the most extraordinary thing lurking behind Rook’s stainless-steel facade…

 

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This book has been on my radar since the Valiant Summit 2016 for multiple reasons.  Probably the most prominent reason is that it is written by one of my favorite writers, and all around nice guy, Fred Van Lente (you can check out our interview with him here).  Previously, Van Lente wrote ARCHER & ARMSTRONG (one of my favorite Valiant titles), IVAR, TIMEWALKER, and the fantastic one-shot 4001 A.D. WAR MOTHER.

GENERATION ZERO focuses on a group of young psiots who first appeared in Valiant’s lauded ARMOR HUNTERS event.  If you haven’t read HARBINGER, or the ARMOR HUNTERS event, you might want to go back and check them out after you read this – mainly because they are great – but they aren’t required reading to be able to understand what’s happening thus far.  They are teenagers with crazy mind powers, and that is all you really need to know to follow along.

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As you can see in the summary above, GENERATION ZERO starts off in the small but suddenly booming city of Rook, Michigan.  But not everything is hunky-dory.  Keisha Sherman’s boyfriend has been killed in a suspicious car crash, and the town of Rook has a decidedly “Silicon Valley’s version of Stepford Wives” vibe.  Keisha calls the only people she thinks can help – Generation Zero.  And, if I may say so myself, the make quite the entrance.  Portela’s art is fun, and there are some creeeepy baddies that pop up near the end.

I was really impressed with the story and overall tone of the book.  Maybe it’s that I binged Stranger Things, reading through Brian K. Vaughan’s PAPER GIRLS and old Stephen King novels, and watching movies like Firestarter and Predator, but I felt like there was a tinge of 80’s sci-fi interwoven throughout the first issue.  Again, it could be that I have been steeped in that sort of thing for the last few weeks.  Either way, I loved the kind of nostalgic feel in this title.  Like I said earlier, this is a fantastic jumping on point from a fantastic creative team.

GENERATION ZERO hits the shelves on August 24, 2016, make sure to go grab one!

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4LN Comic Review: Demonic #1

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Series: Demonic
Written by Christopher Sebela
Art by Niko Walter & Dan Brown
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “SERIES PREMIERE! Detective Scott Graves will do anything to protect his family… even bargain away his soul. Now, the only thing to fear isn’t New York’s worst criminals, but what’s already raging inside of him. After all, what’s the cost of your soul when it’s already damaged?”

Demonic #1

I love comics about demons. Possession, the devil, satanic cults, etc. You name it. If it’s occult, I’ll devour it. I suppose I should clarify that it has to take itself seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good laugh at the devil shoving a pineapple up Hitler’s ass, but when it comes to comics oftentimes satanic and occult imagery and symbolism gets used to peddle something lasciviously mediocre and that’s just lazy writing. I like it to be dark. I wanna see sacrifices, and blood, and Hell, and gore. I want imagery that disturbs you in your soul. Maybe it’s because my upbringing was religious and as a kid I was scared shitless of all that stuff. (I should probably see a psychologist about that…) Demonic #1 gave me exactly what I wanted and more.

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The story starts out simple enough; two cops on their way to a domestic disturbance call, something they’ve clearly dealt with countless times before. This particular case turns out to be far more brutal, and far more personal than they could’ve imagined. Our main character, Scott, stumbles upon a gruesome scene of ritualistic violence, and it’s suggested that his past potentially has some direct connection with what is going on. I really love the mystery here. The development of the story and the turns it takes are enough to hook you even without the lingering questions of the past, but it’s a nice addition to the story.

I also love that Scott has a family, with a young daughter who’s clearly ill, having been in and out of the hospital & doctor’s offices for most of her life. It adds an aspect to the plot that, as a family man myself, I feel more for the character, for Scott. I can put myself in his shoes and relate to the idea that you’d do anything, literally ANYTHING, to protect and save your child. The groundwork that Christopher Sebela has laid in this first issue, and the directions that he appears to be taking the story are incredibly intriguing. Robert Kirkman actually created the concept for this series, but Sebela takes it and entirely makes it his own beast.

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The artwork for Demonic is absolutely incredible. This seems to be the first time Niko Walter has done the art for a series. If I’m wrong I trust the always respectful internet horde to politely correct me. If that is true though then I can tell you I’m very surprised. He’s incredibly talented and I expect he’ll become a pretty in demand creator from this point forward. I almost get a Paul Azaceta vibe  from his style, but it feels completely fresh at the same time. There are two pages that I really loved. The first is the aforementioned “gruesome scene of ritualistic violence” (it’s actually just a couple panels), and the second one I can’t tell you about because it would kind of spoil the ending. Suffice to say, the bottom of page 5 and the top of page 6, and the entire page 20.

Dan Brown’s colors also give Demonic an appealing look. The bright red blood amidst splashes of light browns, dark yellows, and grays really makes the savage qualities stand out. I also love how his colors express the emotions of the characters so perfectly. There’s a panel where Scott is lit up red, not blood red but more like an orange-ish red, because he’s scared and panicked about his daughter. It was so perfect.

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Demonic #1 is a brilliant start to what is sure to be a brutal and revealing journey for Detective Graves, and I plan to join him the entire way. I 100% recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of Outcast by Kirkman & Azeceta, and/or if you liked the recently released Kill Or Be Killed #1 from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Demonic #1 is in comic shops today so make sure you pick up a copy when you head down to yours, or get it digitally from the Comixology link at the top of the page.

 

Music Pairing –

I had a tough time with this one. I really wanted to go with some kind of black metal, or at least a blackened-doom metal band but none seemed to match right. I decided to go with Ghost because it’s dark, occult metal but it’s not overpowering. Jam ’em while you read Demonic #1.

4LN Comic Review: The Backstagers #1

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Series: The Backstagers (8 issue Limited Series)
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Rian Sygh, with Colors by Walter Baiamonte
Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios

Summary from Comixology: “James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredible yet earnest story about finding a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to the private, all-boys school St. Genesius, he figures joining the stage crew would involve a lot of just fetching props and getting splinters. To his pleasant surprise, he discovers there’s a door backstage that leads to different worlds, and all of the stagehands know about it! All the world’s a stage…but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic!”

The Backstagers #1

I wasn’t in any clubs in high school. It wasn’t really my thing. I once did this debate club type presentation at an inter-school competition that I lost. I was also in a play once, actually. A full-on stage production of the story of the Bible. And I had a pretty high profile role. I played the kid who gave Jesus the fish and bread that he used to feed, like, five-thousand people. I sang a solo and everything, and it was broadcast on television WORLDWIDE. Stick that in your mascara tube a suck it, drama nerds.

I may not have been in drama club, or worked the stage crew for high school plays, but I after my previously mentioned “15 minutes of fame” chewed me up and spit me out onto the cold, hard concrete of life with an empty bottle of Jack and empty pockets, I ended up doing stage crew and behind-the-scenes work for TV shoots. I loved doing that too. The camaraderie you have with your fellow black shirts* cannot be rivaled by the people you’re making look good.

*A solid black t-shirt is a requirement if you’re working crew for any type of production of shoot

The Backstagers #1 art by Rian Sygh

I think my favorite thing from James Tynion so far has been his work on Talon, which spun out of the “Court of Owls” New 52 Batman story-arc. The Backstagers is a different style of comic, but one equally as likable. I appreciate the genuine emotion that comes across in the story. Jory, the main character, is terrified of being in a new school and desperately hoping he can just stay afloat amidst his hesitation and anxiety. He attempts to join a specific group and discovers it’s not a good fit for him, but at the same time realizes that he’s most comfortable with a group he hadn’t even considered before. I think it’s a great lesson in that… we often see ourselves as puzzle pieces who have to find the place we fit. When we can’t find that place we get despondent. We never stop to consider that maybe it isn’t our job to find a puzzle to complete. Maybe, it’s the puzzle’s job to complete us… (That’s some “self-help poster” shit right there.)

One undeniable quality of Backstagers is its character diversity. Black, gay, short, chubby, etc. All types of dudes are represented here. It’s refreshing to see it all presented without any stigma. No one cares or acts as if it it matters. Like, these are all just traits of the characters and not what defines them. That’s infinitely more valuable than anything you’ll take away from a Big 2 comic.

The Backstagers #1 art by Rian Sygh

The art of Backstagers fits the tone of the story perfectly. Rian Sygh’s style is fantastic. It’s fun, and quirky, and a little abstract at times, but never too serious. I love the cartoon-ish look with embellished facial expressions and bizarre creatures that just don’t seem out-of-place cause, hey, it’s comic books! There’s one page in particular where we’re seeing the space that hold the doorway to other worlds and it’s just so grand and exciting. You really have to study the page to take it all in. A big part of what makes it so wonderful too is the color-work of Walter Baiamonte. The colors just… pop. I wish there was a bigger, better word to describe it but that’s just how they are. Maybe “luminous” would work. They’re luminous and beautiful.

Rian Sygh is not only the artist, but also the co-creator of the series. I like that structure. It shows that the writer and artist are equals and not just uneven associates, and that the artist has a balanced amount of creative control. It’s very common in the comic industry for readers (and, unfortunately at times, even  publishers and other creators) to downplay the role of a co-creating artist and I think that’s what makes it so important for us at 4LN, and other comic sites, to acknowledge it when we run previews and reviews.

The Backstagers #1 art by Rian Sygh

The Backstagers #1 is a funny and enjoyable beginning to a series that is sure to please fans of all ages. The emotion is real, but never heavy, and it speaks to anyone who’s ever had to seek out there place in the world, which, let’s be honest, is pretty much all of us comic book readers. I think I would especially recommend it for middle school kids, so if you have one of those around then maybe think about picking this up for them. It hits comic shop stands this Wednesday, 08/17, or you can get it at the Comixology link at the top of this page.

The Backstagers #1 art by Rian Sygh

Music Pairing –

Once you grab your stack of comics on Wednesday and you need to cue something up to listen to while you read, make sure you put The Backstagers at the top of your pile and jam the new album from Moose Blood, “Blush“. It’s a fun explosion of 80’s-tinged pop-punk that pairs perfectly with this issue.

 

Bat for Brains: A 4LN Interview with Scott Snyder!

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I really got into comics right around the time that New 52 started, and I was pulling every Batman & Bat-Family book that there was. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, I lost interest in those books. All but one… the Batman proper book by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It easily became my favorite comic that was being published, and not long after that, it became my all time favorite comic. I have every issue except a #1 first print, I picked up the second print not realizing it. Soon, I started to explore Scott Snyder’s work before Batman. I picked up The Black Mirror, a story from his Detective Comics run. This was seriously one of the darkest Batman stories I had read since Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, I couldn’t believe the things that were happening in this book.

Not longer after I became a Scott Snyder fan boy, we started FourLetterNerd and I set a goal for myself; I somehow wanted to interview my favorite writer. I even wrote an early article talking about how Snyder was the Stephen King of Comics. I wanted to talk comics with someone I admire, someone I aspire to be like, and one of the people that has made me want to become a comic book writer, or a writer in general.

This week Scott Snyder released his new ongoing Batman series, All Star Batman, and I was able to sit down and talk about this book with him. I was beyond excited. I had achieved my main goal with FourLetterNerd, and I couldn’t be more excited and stoked to share this with you. Guess my unabashedly biased reviews got me somewhere Stephen Andrew.

Below you will find my interview with Scott Snyder!

Scott, after having written Batman for so long, do you feel like you understand who Bruce Wayne is at this point, or do you find that you’re still exploring his psyche?

Scott Snyder: I have so many questions about him, he’s so deeply fun to explore. I write each arc like it’s going to be my last one and I would always say to Greg [Capullo,] or whoever I was working with, “You know, this might be the last one…” [laughs] And try to make it something that would make me feel good leaving it on each time, making it personal and about things that you feel passionately about. With that said, with this one I felt like it was almost a new beginning are sort of deciding not to do just one story that was different, but instead do an entire series of stories that approach Batman’s mythologies, and villains, and Bruce and all of it from a completely different angle. Where it wasn’t necessary a big epic storyline. I wanted to be able to break it down into separate prisms of series where I could say I want to do this villain with this artist, and this villain with that artist. So in doing so, we will have this whole new perspective on Bruce as well. Where all of these things are sort of looking at him as a character that I didn’t expect, like his relationship with Alfred, the whole Robin mantel. All of the stuff that wasn’t really in the outline for the book has been emerging. And I really feel like, really hope, it’s some of my best work. So, I’m really excited to see what you think.

 

Will this version/depiction of Batman/ Bruce differ from one we saw in you New 52 run, or will he be inherently the same?

Scott Snyder: I always see him as the same character, New, Non, Pre52. I mean for me I think it’s more you just have a version of the character in your head and it’s almost like your own creator owned version in your head. I was talking to Tom King (Writer of Batman) about this and you know, it’s almost like if you’re doing rebirth, or New 52, or anything, it’s sort of your vessel. The thing with Grant [Morrison], whatever he was doing on Batman, it was always his Bruce. So, I see him as one long consistent conversation almost between me and the mythology of the character that way it differs from the 52 version. But, this series I’ve made a really big effort to be a shock to the system for the readers given what I have been doing with Greg [Capullo] because I tried to do that every arc with Greg. The last thing I wanted to do was for it to seem like I was playing it safe given all the risks we took doing Batman proper.

 

Are there any artist that you are excited to work with?

Scott Snyder: Oh yeah! So many great artist. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to Danny and Dean for just doing incredible work on the feature, but also Declan Shelvey and Jordie Bellaire who are doing the backups and the Robin History with me. Paul Pope has become a good friend and I can’t wait to work with. Sean Murphy who is one of my dearest friends in the world, you know, he and I have worked together before and I can’t wait to bring him over in the Batman world. We always joke around about it, but in his creator owned works there is normally a character that is like me, who is like “Draw Batman! Draw Batman!” It’s a joy being able to bring artist in that haven’t had the spotlight from a major book and you can help them, and feel very inspired by them both as people and as talents. So for me, it’s the opposite as what I was doing on Batman, in some ways, and in others it has very similar DNA. The similarities are, I like big bombastic over the top high stakes stuff. I always have. I try to make each story very personal to me, where every villain is sort of re-examined in away that hopefully positions them in a modern and scary but true to core, and slightly tweeked. But maybe something more contemporary. And being outside of Gotham for the story allows me to do wilder takes and experiment a bit more and not be so concerned about what’s happening to the city constantly, and it’s in very good hands with Tom. So, it gives me room to breath and think bigger and write crazier.

 

Dean White is doing the colors on this book, and I personally think he is one of the best colorists in the industry. How do the two or you play off each other? Do you mention what colors things should be, or does White just take the ball and run with it?

Scott Snyder: Danny I have worked with for a long time, because he was on Batman with me and Greg, but Dean who is new to me at least, and who I have admired for a long time, I just made it a point to talk and we wound up having similar sensibilities and  taste in music and so we really got along. What I always try to do isn’t so much tell them specifically what I want but to tell them what the book is about and say Listen, I want this story to really feel like, say, this is the end of times, the end of society, and the end of all these kinds of restrictions we put on ourselves that we use to hide who we really are, those are going to fall away. I want it to feel like this quante beautiful landscape we have never been in before, but also kinda threatening and oddly scary like Halloween on a farm but with bright blue skies, and you never know what’s in the cornfield. That kinda stuff, and I’ll say that and they will come up with something that is incredibly vibrant and enhances those ideas tremendously. There really aren’t words that describe what these guys have done on this book, so I would just encourage people if you pick it [All Star Batman #1] up, and you like what they are doing, just tweet them both, or on Instagram, because colorist and inkers are often total unsung heroes and are letterers of the books, and editors I suppose. [Laughs] Go find them and tell them what a great job they are doing.

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I think a lot of people would define your writing style as horror, so I’m curious, do you identify as a “horror” writer?

Scott Snyder: I’m really proud to be known as a horror writer. I wear it really proudly, horror is my favorite genre if I had to pick one, by far. I grew up on horror movies and I don’t know if it was wanting to see the cool kids get attacked [laughs] or it it was something deeper at first when I was little but they always spoke to me. Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorites, Frankenstein is my favorite book, so yeah I think at horrors core, it’s about a very pure form of conflict. It’s you up against something like a monster, or something that is a reflection or extension of your fears about yourself or the world around you, when it’s done right or well. It’s almost like a burned down, turned up to 11 volume form of the best kind of conflict and drama, so yeah!


Any plans for Scarecrow?

Scott Snyder: I do. I do have plans for him. I actually had Scarecrow in this arc. But then I realized I didn’t think I was doing him justice because he came and went pretty quickly. I just feel like he deserves a bigger role if I’m going to do something with him. So I do have an idea for something down the line. This series is truly ongoing where you know I start with John for five issue and then I have some one shots and two shots with Jock, Paul Pope… and then I have Sean Murphy and this big story and then I would really like to do this one with Lee Bermejo. So I have plans to stretch for almost two years, at least a year and a half. Which is as much as I ever had on Batman Proper. So my hope is to keep it going and do stuff about all the villains. You know, all of them big and small. I would love to do something with Scarecrow, I had an idea for fear gas in issue three but just thought it wasn’t right to knock him out of the story that quick.  

 

Just real quick, Batman with a chainsaw is one of the greatest things I have ever seen.

Scott Snyder:[Laughs]  Thank you! They tried to cut that at one point. My editor Mark, who is one of my best friends, was like “Listen to me, there might be like one thing that might be a little bit too dark for people, and that might be the chainsaw.” I was like “We are not moving or getting rid of the chainsaw, no matter what.” I really fought him on it and he was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, OK alright.”

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It’s fun, and it’s silly, and it’s grindhouse; but, it’s the spirit of the series, which I think is that Batman is going further than he’s gone before with Two-Face, and you never know what’s coming form the corners of the page. You don’t know what villain is going to pop up, which hero will pop up, even completely certain of an unfamiliar situation that ultimately is landscaped by a psychological projection of what’s going on between these characters. So, having a chainsaw is almost like Batman is willing to sort of shock you and be even more aggressive and badass than you expected, but what comes back at him a few pages later, is even worse, and it’s raising the steaks in the bet that Two-Face is making with him every few pages.

 

Final question, in the show “Gotham” they introduced The Court of Owls last season and it appears as if they’ll have an ominous presence on the story this season. How does it feel to have created something in the Bat-verse that’s impact is so significant it’s being adapted to live-action?

Scott Snyder: I can’t even begin to tell you.. When Geoff Johns told me they were doing that, I was out in Burbank [California] and he was like “I have something to show you.” And he showed me clips from the promos from the season two introduction of them and I almost teared up because I was so excited. So, it’s a huge thrill honestly, and DC has been incredibly kind to us about it. But Greg and I had one stipulation, we wanted to be Owls in the back, giving the thumbs up wearing the masking and everything, no, no, we are very grateful. When I started Batman, or even Detective Comics, six or seven years ago, I never thought in a million years I would be doing it this long or have been able to be so embedded in the mythology and able to create characters and anything that would stick. It’s hugely rewarding, and cant thank the fans enough for all their years of support and letting us do everything we’ve done in the books.

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Thank you so much to DC Comics, and Scott Snyder. Be sure to head to your local comic shop and pick up All Star Batman #1 which is on shelves now, and if you are in the Middle Tennessee area, head over to Game Cave 2 and pick up this book! You don’t want to sleep on this series.

All-Star Batman (2016-) #1

4LN Comic Review: The Black Monday Murders #1

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Series: The Black Monday Murders
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Tomm Coker, with Michael Garland on Colors and Lettering by Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “”MAMMON” ALL HAIL GOD MONEY! From JONATHAN HICKMAN (EAST OF WEST, Secret Wars, Avengers) and TOMM COKER (UNDYING LOVE) comes a new crypto-noir series about the power of dirty, filthy money… and exactly what kind of people you can buy with it. THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS is classic occultism where the various schools of magic are actually clandestine banking cartels who control all of society: a secret world where vampire Russian oligarchs, Black popes, enchanted American aristocrats, and hitmen from the International Monetary Fund work together to keep ALL OF US in our proper place.”

The Black Monday Murders #1

I… don’t know where to start. Real talk. I had heard about this comic but really didn’t dig to find out what it was about because I prefer to be surprised by a story, and I just generally don’t want to give myself a reason to not pick up a book. Sometimes, when you know too much going in, it’s easy to prejudge a series before you’ve even read the first issue. I knew this has occult themes and that it was written by Jonathan Hickman, and that’s all that mattered. The work he’s done at Marvel has had massive long-term impact on the main continuity of their comic universe, more so than any other writer in recent years. (Go right now and get S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol 1: Architects of Forever. That is maybe my favorite thing he’s ever written. Well, next to…) He’s also the writer/creator of East of West (art by Nick Dragotta), which is also published by Image Comics. East of West is probably the most… complex… series I read, or have ever read. The character’s stories intertwine so intricately and the visuals are vert grandiose. It’s truly a brilliant comic series.

I get the feeling that TBMM will be similar in it’s character building, but is clearly leaving much, much more to mystery.

The Black Monday Murders #1

Ok, so what can I tell you about TBMM that I understood enough to coherently explain it… hmm… uh… there are people, and they say things… and… uh… there is a society of supernatural people with metaphysical abilities and characteristics who secretly dictate the direction of our world cultures and governments. I basically just reworded the summary huh? Well, you don’t know about the detective! Ha! See, I knew I’d think of something. Ok, so, the detective. His name is Theo Dumas and he’s got a reputation as a very effective law enforcement officer. However, his good name has come under some heavy scrutiny as of late, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s very good at what he does. When a dead body turns up in a very unusual situation it’s apparent that Theo is the only guy capable of handling it, and handle he does. The story is full of things that will make you go, “…what?!”, but the final page will really leave your brain spinning.

The Black Monday Murders #1

Prior to this comic, the work of Tomm Coker’s I was most familiar with was the Wolverine issue of 5 Ronin that he did for Marvel. (I feel like that’s a devastatingly underrated mini-series.) Coker’s style is profoundly sophisticated. He captures small details beautifully, and his line-work is flawless. There are just so many fantastic dynamics in his panels, and then Rus Wooton adds colors that really make them pop. One scene might have some really deep, dark shadows, and then the next is bright and full of golden light. It really helps you stay entranced with story. I found myself just staring, captivated, at the pages, excited and even a little bewildered, but in the best way.

The Black Monday Murders #1

It almost feels like Hickman found an opportunity to use the occult element in order to teach readers about the structure of our banking institutions, and how dangerously ingrained into our politics they are. Actually… I think I said that wrong. I feel like I learned that it’s the money that begat the politics. The money, the greed and power-lust, came first. It didn’t implicate itself later, it birthed the entire idea of hierarchy rule. It’s almost as if the conspiracy ideas exist to intrigue you so that Hickman can get his real, more logical ideas across when you don’t even realize it.

Whatever the allure may be, The Black Monday Murders certainly captures your attention. For me, this first issue is a contender for my favorite #1 of the year so far. When you head down to your local comic shop, make sure to pick up a copy for yourself, or click the Comixology link at the top of the page to get it digitally.

 

Music Pairing – 

With the dark, occult themes of the story, you have to jam some ambient black metal while you read this. It’s the most appropriate. My recommendation is Wolves In The Throne Room. Their first album “Diadem of 12 Stars “, was recently reissued and makes an excellent accompaniment to this book.