Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Image Comics

4LN Comic Review: Redneck #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Music Pairing:

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

4LN Comic Review: Cannibal #1

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.

Cannibal #1

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.

Cannibal #1

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.

Cannibal #1

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 – Hadrian’s Wall #1

Series: Hadrian’s Wall
Written by: Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel
Art by: Rod Reis
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “When an astronaut on HADRIAN’S WALL is murdered, pill-popping detective Simon Moore is dispatched to investigate the ship’s crew, including his own ex-wife. But if Simon’s not careful, what he finds could make the interstellar Cold War go red hot. From the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed series C.O.W.L. comes a gripping, locked room murder mystery where the secrets of everyone involved are as dark as the space that surrounds them.”

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This teams previous effort, C.O.W.L., was one of my first Image titles, and it was awesome (seriously, go track down the trades).  It was like Mad Men meets the Justice League, if the League was in a corrupt union in the 1950’s.  The story was really interesting, and Rod Reis’ art is so unique.  Anyway, whenever it ended it left a hole to fill, and HADRIAN’S WALL looks to fill that hole.

Hadrian's Wall #1

While both of these titles could be considered noir, the settings are vastly different.  As stated previously, C.O.W.L. took place in 1950’s Chicago, while HADRIAN’S WALL takes place in space, aboard the titular ship.  After a member of the crew is murdered, Simon Moore is sent out to investigate.  Things get complicated when we learn about Moore’s history with both the deceased astronaut and said astronaut’s wife, who happens to be Moore’s ex-wife.  Not the best of circumstances considering they are confined on a ship in the middle of nowhere.

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The tone of this issue is really neat.  The set pieces look like they were pulled out of the 70/80’s sci-fi aesthetic, and the idea of a noir murder mystery is definitely intriguing.  Higgins and Siegel have already proven that they can spin a great noir yarn, and this issue is not an exception to that rule.

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I know that the sci-fi genre can be hit or miss, especially with the genre being flooded, but this creative team put out a great first issue that has enough humanity in it to ground it.  Not to mention the gorgeous visuals, particularly the two-page spreads, provided by the fantastic Rod Reis.  If you are a fan of 80’s sci-fi, murder mysteries, or James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, this is definitely a book for you.

HADRIAN’S WALL is out today so make sure to pick up you copy ASAP!

 

4LN Comic Review: Glitterbomb #1

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.”

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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: Demonic #1

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.

Demonic #1

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.

Demonic #1

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.

Demonic #1

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 Black Monday Murders #1

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.

4LN Comic Review – Snotgirl #1

Series: Snotgirl
Written by: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art by: Leslie Hung
Publisher: Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood, and tears in this new ongoing series from New York Times Best Seller BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY (Scott Pilgrim) and dazzling newcomer LESLIE HUNG!”

Snotgirl #1

“Snotgirl” is such a peculiar title for a story, right? It sounds self-explanatory and yet evokes a lot of questions at the same time. Like, ok, it’s about a girl and her snot, but, like, is she made of snot? Does she use it like a superpower? Is she the daughter of Boogerman? Or maybe, like… it’s a sex thing? She’s into… snotplay? Or what if her snot is some kind of super-powered aphrodisiac that makes men and women go wild?! (Bryan, DM me, I have an idea for your second arc that we should talk about before one of these peasants steals it.)

Turns out, it’s none of those. Snotgirl is Lottie Person, just a regular ol’ millennial girl who blogs about fashion and lives the most fabulous life she can. Publicly anyway. Snotgirl is actually kind of a brilliant commentary on self-identity. Lottie has a persona that she has to maintain. She’s been doing it for years and she can’t just stop. She has her blog and all her social media accounts that depict her in a certain light, and she has friends that she keeps at just enough of a distance so that they can’t see past the walls she’s built, but no one can ever know that deep down she’s tired, and unbalanced mentally & emotionally. If you’ve ever been a human then I’m sure you can relate.

Snotgirl #1

Lottie’s great embarrassment is her severe allergies, that inevitably causes her nose to run. The story is brilliant in that writer Bryan Lee O’Malley has an incredibly astute grip on who Lottie is. She cites her allergies as her source of weakness but really her issues run deeper and they’re way more serious than even she realizes. We, the readers, are on Lottie’s journey with her because for most the issue you feel like you’re in Clueless, but by the end you kind of feel like you’re in Fatal Attraction.

Snotgirl #1 The artwork in the book is absolutely fantastic, especially when you consider that this is Leslie Hung’s first ever mainstream comic credit. Her work definitely has a manga vibe to it, it’s very full and rounded, but it’s more of a manga-influenced style rather than being derivative. One thing I really love is that she adjusts the look of the characters slightly based on the setting and situation, which is 100% true to real life. If it wasn’t then memes like this wouldn’t exist… (Don’t even pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

Hung’s beautiful artwork partnered with the gorgeous colors from Mickey Quinn really gives the aesthetic-heavy world of Lottie Person full life and makes for a comic that will easily charm your eye.

Snotgirl #1

I’ve become one of those grizzled veteran comic nerds who just isn’t all that excited about superheroes anymore. I just don’t care about DC Comics Rebirth, and I couldn’t care less about Civil War II. None of it interests or excites me anymore. Even the conversations those story-lines instigate aren’t substantial enough to matter. Creator-owned books are more fundamental. They dig into the dirty center of what society has become, how we’ve influenced the culture we lash out at, and how we interact with each other based on our experiences. Snotgirl has a glossy surface with lots of pretty colors and shrthnd txt spk, but underneath, just like people, it’s a story with a dark twist you couldn’t have predicted. I’m very excited about the direction of this first issue and I can’t wait to see where it leads. I highly recommend it. If you, or someone you know, are into stuff like Pretty Little Liars or the movie Jawbreaker, then this is a comic you should pick up for yourself, or them. It’s on comic shop stands today so head to a local comic book store in your area and grab one.

 

Music Pairing –

This was maybe the easiest music pairing I’ve ever come up with. The most perfect music pairing for this comic is literally anything from Melanie Martinez’s album “Crybaby”. It’s a dark, visceral pop album with subject matter that should make you uncomfortable but succeeds in making you want to dance (or in my case, wish you could dance).

(I low key kind of love Melanie Martinez.)

4LN’s Favorite Comics of 2015

Cam Clark

Star Wars (all of them)
My pull list is relatively simple – all the Star Wars titles mixed in with most of the Valiant titles, and very little else (What can I say, I have a comic budget and it isn’t all that large due to other things like mortgages and diapers).  When it came time to choose my favorite comics of the year, I had a hard time deciding which book in the Star Wars line I should pick.  I mean, Jason Aaron’s work on Star Wars is brilliant, but so is Gillen’s work on Darth VaderKanan was surprisingly good and made me a fan of the show Rebels, while Lando, Chewbacca and Princess Leia were also very well done.  Shattered Empire shows the aftermath of Return of the Jedi and also showed Luke Skywalker really grasping what he could do with the Force.  Additionally, the Vader Down event is shaping up to be an incredibly successful event.  If I HAD to choose, I might select the main Star Wars title… but I don’t have to choose, so I choose all of the titles.  If you aren’t reading them and are a fan of the Star Wars you are missing out on some great stories.

Ninjak
Although Valiant Entertainment is a small publisher, they are putting out some magnificent work.  Now that we are a few years in to the shared universe of Valiant, it can be kind of intimidating trying to test the waters for a newcomer (although they have great prices on their trade paperback collections so you have little excuse).  Luckily Ninjak by Matt Kindt is a great jumping on point.  The story is mostly a standalone story that follows Britain’s number one super-spy/master assassin, Colin King (think British Batman with a sprinkle of 007-particularly the “license to kill” part).  During the main story of each issue, there are a few pages of flashbacks that give you backstory into his childhood, and each issue ends with a couple page story of his previous exploits prior to becoming the badass that is Ninjak.  So in essence you get two awesome comics for the price of one.  The first volume is already available in trade paperback, and you can find it available on Amazon and in most local comic shops.

The Punisher
I have a confession to make, I used to dislike the Punisher.  His anti-hero antics involving merciless retribution on the criminal underworld rubbed me the wrong way.  It all changed when I read Nathan Edmondson’s Punisher. Holy crap is it good.  Edmondson really focuses on Frank’s military background and expert tactical skills as he deals with Cartels, the Howling Commandos, and – the most dangerous of all – Los Angeles.  While he is still merciless, Edmondson’s writing and Mitch Gerad’s art made me a believer.

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Bill Clark

Marvel
Very similar to Cameron, I have been pulling every Star Wars book. But, out of all the books, I had a favorite. I personally like the Darth Vader solo book the most. I think Kieron Gillen does a fantastic job capturing the spirit of everyone’s favorite Sith lord. From the first issue, this book had my full attention. Now, I am slightly biased. I love Gillen as a writer, and I have a Darth Vader tattoo, so of course I’m going to love a comic solely about Vader. And, this book has two of the greatest assassin droids in Star Wars history, BT-1 and 0-0-0. If you haven’t read this book, you are really missing out. Go pick up some issues and fall in love with it like I did.

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DC
If you have ever read any of my reviews, you know how I feel about Scott Snyder and Batman… I F**KING LOVE THEM. And, because of my love, I am unabashedly biased about that book. When the Robot-Bat-Bunny Batman was announced Cameron dropped the book and Stephen Andrew eventually lost interest in it. But, here is the thing: it was awesome. The book had been in such a dark and serious place for so long that the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo decided to have some fun with the book. They introduced a super dark villain, but were still able to make the book fun and a bit lighter. Since I wouldn’t stop talking about the book, Cam and Stephen decided to give it a shot again, and wouldn’t you know, they loved it. Stephen even wrote an apology. Batman was seriously the best book DC was putting out all year.
Batman-42-Cover

 

Archie Comics
When the all new Archie was announced I was pretty excited. I had never read an Archie comic before, but man was I hyped AF for this new book. Mark Waid and Fiona f**king Staples? How could one not love that? It would be the greatest sin. Now, I typically stay away from teen centered books. It’s just not my cup of tea, but this book changed that. From the very first issue I was instantly drawn into the lives of Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty. Mark Waid is able to strip everything down, give us raw real people, and make us extremely interested in the break up of Betty and Archie, and how that affects the entire town of Riverdale. Everyone knew Archie and Betty as “Archie and Betty,” so what does their identity look like without each other? Well, that’s what Mark Waid is trying to explore, and he’s doing a fantastic job at it.

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Stephen Andrew

Unlike Cam and Bill, I’m terribly irresponsible and have like 87 books on my pull-list. Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but in all honesty it’s not by much. I read a lot of comics, and that makes compiling this list much more difficult for me. I can’t just pick like 3 or 4 books so I’m gonna try to break it down by publishers, and attempt to keep it brief. I said ATTEMPT. I make no guarantees…

DC
I’m starting here because it’s the easiest one. Harley Quinn still is, and will remain my favorite DC title. In fact, it’s the only one I still currently read. The work that Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti have been doing on that series is unprecedented. They get away with jokes that probably no other mainstream comic ever would. Even though Harley is my maniacal mistress, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the new Deathstroke run and might pick that back up because it was pretty intense and brutal. But, for now, I remain wholly committed to that adorable minx in red and blue clown paint. *swoon*

 

Marvel
Being that I’be always been a Marvel Guy, this section could potentially be more difficult to narrow down. But while thinking about it, It actually became pretty easy. The Marvel comics that stood out most in my mind as I thought about the year are Howard the Duck, from the creative team of Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, from Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Both series has been consistently well written, and I laugh out loud every single time I read a new issue. I already love Chip as a writer so I anticipated that I would love Howard, but I was honestly surprised at how much I ended up loving Squirrel Girl. Ryan North is an endless well of funny, and I’m gonna keep on drinking from his bucket. (Did that sound weird? I feel like it sounded weird…)

Valiant
I only read about 4 Valiant series. Bloodshot, Ninjak, Rai, and now the new Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. I just picked up Rai this year and I’m really glad I did because it’s great. Eternal Warrior is off to a solid start, and Bloodshot always delivers. I have to agree with my good pal Cam though, that Ninjak is by far the the best series being published over at Valiant right now. The writing is A-game material, and the artwork is always high grade, professional quality. It’s like they said, “How do we make the best comic?” and then just made it.

Image
Image Comics is my jam. I’d say that it at least ties with Marvel making up like 45% of my weekly pull list. All of my favorite comics are from Image. Outcast, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Deadly Class, East of West, Spread, Bitch Planet, etc. I could go on an on about the Image series’ that I love but I’d like to put the spotlight on two limited series they published this year. Airboy, from James Robinson & Greg Hinkle, and Big Man Plans, from Eric Powell & Tim Wiesch. Big Man Plans I chose becasue it was the most brutal and fearless series I read all year. Literally nothing was off limits. It reads like the storyboard for a Quentin Tarantino movie. If you can stomach the relentless ferocity of it all, then you should definitely pick up the trade.

Airboy really had a big impact on me. It’s essentially a parody of Robinson’s semi-autobiographical, debauched story of self-destruction that spirals him into a drug & alcohol induced fever dream into the world of the title golden age comic book character, Airboy. Among other things, he deals with things like his crumbling marriage, extreme substance abuse, and his insecurities and perceived failures as a writer. It’s all wrapped up in a brilliant and hilarious story of two guys just trying to motivate themselves to write and draw a comic book but falling into a shared hallucination… or dream… or f***ing nightmare. If you’re familiar with Robinson’s career then you owe it to yourself to read this series, but also if you just like comic book stores that aren’t afraid to be mercilessly honest and transparent.

4LN Comic Review: Huck

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Published by Image Comics

Summary from Comixology: “In a quiet seaside town, Huck uses his special gifts to do a good deed each day. His neighbors return the favors by keeping his abilities a secret. But when a newcomer alerts the media, a firestorm erupts, sending Huck on an adventure that will change everything. This brand-new series from writer MARK MILLAR and artist RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE presents a comicbook unlike anything you’ve read before. Featuring a Feel-Good Movie variant cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE.”

Huck #1

Mark Millar is at the top of the “comic creator food-chain” right now. Kick-Ass is easily one the best independent series of the new millennium, his series’ Wanted and The Secret Service were made into very successful films (you can read my Kingsman: The Secret Service review here), and his series’ Chrononauts and Jupiter’s Legacy have both been optioned for film adaptations. Oh, also, this book, Huck, it’s also already been optioned for a feature film. Yeah, before the book even dropped the film rights got scooped up. That happens somewhat often in the world of novels, but it’s pretty rare in the comic book world. Huck is not your typical comic though… or, maybe it is, just not in this era.

click for super-sized previews of Huck #1

You see, Mark Millar wrote Huck in response to what he feels is an increasingly bleak direction for the superhero genre.  He does a fantastic job of explaining himself in this piece here (and you should absolutely read it because it’s extremely insightful), but to slightly paraphrase, he essentially says that he longed for the days when superheroes excited us because they were upstanding and good, rather than compelling us because of gray-area morality.

He’s not wrong either. I mean, I love those “gray-area morality” characters and stories, but I also don’t think that we should abandon the goodness of superheroes just because we have some delusion that we’ve matured beyond it. So I 100% understand where Millar is coming from and I support his stance.

click for super-sized previews of Huck #1

The character of Huck reminded me a lot of Forest Gump, or John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan’s character from The Green Mile). Huck is simple, but he’s in no way inept or incompetent. He’s very kind, and has a very compassionate heart. He also just so happens to be able to run really fast, jump really far, swim long distances without having to take a breath, and punch cruel warlords so hard that they fly back several yards. The people of his small town know what he’s capable of and just want to protect him.  They’re not trying to keep him all to themselves or anything, they just want to keep him from being exposed to the vulture-like tendencies of the outside world.

Huck is committed to doing at least one nice thing for someone everyday, and there were a couple of things that stood out to me about that. First, his kindness is not limited to what he can do with his abilities. He doesn’t just lift things for people or stop bad guys. He does do those things, but he also does things like spending his own hard-earned money to buy lunch for all the people in a drive-thru, and writing kind notes. The other thing I noticed is that, prior to punching the cruel warlord I mentioned earlier, Huck firmly requests that the man remove his glasses. Huck’s goodness is so intrinsic that he won’t even punch a violent mass-murderer who’s wearing glasses. It’s almost reminiscent of the “why doesn’t Batman just kill The Joker” debate.

click for super-sized previews of Huck #1

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the artwork done by Rafael Albuquerque. He does an absolutely incredible job. I don’t even know if anything I can say would sufficiently express how beautiful his work is. Every panel is like a painting, and there aren’t too many artist that give you that feeling when you read a comic. The very last page of this issue felt like a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s that wonderful.

Huck #1 made me happy. I loved the character, I loved the story, and I’m really excited to see where it all goes. I also have to say, it’s a surprisingly young-reader friendly book. I gave it to my 8 year old son to read and after he finished it he said, “Is this the first kid friendly book from Image?” I chuckled and said, “You know, it might be.” Now, while there really isn’t anything offensive, I still probably wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “kid-friendly”. Comixology defines it at being 12+ but if you a have a mature kid between 8 and 11, with well-developed reading skills, I think they’d really enjoy this book.

The real proof of Huck’s invaluable worth, however, is found in it’s ability to speak to us grown-ups. More specifically, the child-like sense of enjoyment that first drew us into comics in the first place. Huck #1 is a fun, exciting beginning to what is sure to be an extraordinary story full of astonishing feats, thrilling drama, and enormous heart. Don’t miss out! Head down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy of Huck #1 today!

 

Music Pairing –
I really wanted to find something that was positive and uplifting to pair with this book, and after considering several different bands and songs, I settled on “Go Down In History”, by Four Year Strong. It’s a fun, anthem-like song, full of good vibes and sincerity. Just like Huck!