Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Ninjak

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

X-O Manowar

X-O Manowar (2017) #1

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

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

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

Listen to this while you read it!

Hundredth

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Faith

Faith #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

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

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

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

Listen to this while you read it!

Tillie

PLAYING Warped 7.26 – 8.6

 

Generation Zero

Generation Zero Vol. 1

Summary from Comixology: Listen to this while you read it! “If you have a problem… If your parents won’t help… And if your cause is worthy… Log onto network #ZERO…because Generation Zero is listening.

“Years ago, the children of the experimental strike team known as Generation Zero were taken from their families by Project Rising Spirit, a private weapons contractor, and raised to be psychic soldiers. After years of taking orders, they have fought for and won their freedom.

“Now, the world’s most wanted teenagers have pledged to protect each other tooth and claw, while using their extraordinary abilities to right wrongs for a generation without a future… To fight for kids, just like them.”

Listen to this while you read it!

New Years Day

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Savage 

Savage #1

Summary from Comixology: Fifteen years ago, the world’s most famous soccer star and his former supermodel wife –pregnant with their unborn child – disappeared without a trace. The world believes they are dead… But, in reality, their private jet crash-landed on a mysterious, unknown island ruled by by prehistoric creatures from another time… This is the story of how they lost their humanity.”

Listen to this while you read it!

Knocked Loose

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Britannia

Britannia

Summary from Comixology: “On the fringes of civilization, the world’s first detective is about to make an unholy discovery? Ruled by the Fates. Manipulated by the Gods. Commanded by Caesar. In the year 65 A.D., one’s destiny was not his own. At the height of Nero’s reign, a veteran of Rome’s imperial war machine has been dispatched to the farthest reaches of the colonies to investigate unnatural happenings? In the remote outpost of Britannia, Antonius Axia – the First Detective – will become Rome’s only hope to reassert control over the empire’s most barbaric frontier and keep the monsters that bridge the line between myth and mystery at bay. From comics mastermind Peter Milligan (X-Statix, Shade the Changing Man) and incendiary artist Juan Jose Ryp (NINJAK, Clone) comes a psychological journey into terror, temptation, and bloodshed in Valiant’s latest magnum opus.”

Listen to this while you read it!

Fire From The Gods

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

Bloodshot: Reborn

Bloodshot Reborn #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

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

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

Listen to this while you read it!

Bad Omens

PLAYING Warped 7.4 – 7.24

 

Ninjak

Ninjak (2015- ) #1: Digital Exclusives Edition

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

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

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

Listen to this while you read it!

I Prevail

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

 

A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to this while you read it!

Valient Thorr

PLAYING Warped 6.16 – 8.6

4LN Video Podcast – Episode 1: Warcraft, E3, and Favorite New Comics

Welcome to the first ever 4LN Video Podcast! This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and after getting our feet wet with a couple of unboxing videos we decided it was time to give it a shot! We brought our good friends Tyler and Dave along to chat about the new Warcraft movie, what we’re looking forward to from E3, and which comics from the past week we really dug! Check it out and enjoy!

 

(Editor’s Note: This podcast was recorded on Sunday, June 12th, so make sure to check out our E3 coverage from the past couple of days here and here.)

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.

i_punish_la_by_mitchgerads-d7275yl

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.

detail

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.

image2

 

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: Ninjak #10

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Doug Braithwaite & Juan José Ryp, with Brian Reber
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology: ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! A SPECIAL FOUR-ISSUE EVENT! “OPERATION: DEADSIDE” STARTS HERE! In December of 2015, a covert military intelligence unit sent a team of 20 agents and one special operative into a parallel dimension. Only one came back. The purpose of their mission was classified. Now, out of options, MI-6 has recruited their most elite operative – codename: NINJAK – to follow the doomed mission’s sole witness back into the dimension called Deadside…and bring her missing teammates home. What will they find there? And who will be waiting for them? Jump on board here as New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (DIVINITY) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) reunite for a terrifying journey into an unknown plane of existence…and bring NINJAK head-to-head with SHADOWMAN in the all-new, four-part epic “OPERATION: DEADSIDE”! Plus: an all-new chapter of “THE LOST FILES” begins, featuring explosive artwork by Juan José Ryp (Clone)!

Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Ninjak is, without a doubt, one of the absolute best comics being published right now. Since the launch of the series earlier this year, the story has been exciting and captivating, with some pretty amazing twists along the way. This brand-new story arc “Operation Deadside” kicks off with a blast. Literally. A secret MI-6 facility is attacked and a villain previously captured by Ninjak is taken to the Deadside, somewhere Ninjak has been before but isn’t really in a hurry to get back to. I mean, he’s going back, he just doesn’t want to. He’ll have some help this time, though, from the obdurate and incomparable Punk Mambo. They go together about as well as… well… about as well as an anarchist hippie and an agent of the state.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

For me, personally, Ninjak has been my favorite of the new Valiant comics from 2015. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty much everything that they put out, but Ninjak just has something about it that makes it stand out. It’s more accessible than a lot of other current comics. What I mean is that you can very easily jump into Ninjak and it’s even easier to get sucked into the story. “Operation Deadside” picks up sort of where the previous story arc ended, but not in a way that requires you to read it. However, you should read it because Matt Kindt has been crafting an absolutely compelling plot-line that leads you all the way up to here. The way Kindt writes Colin King (Ninjak) reminds me of a mix of Bruce Wayne and Danny Rand. He’s wealthy, classy and headstrong, but still sarcastic, and even a little reckless at times. Not imprudent, just a tad careless; in a “let’s see what happens when I do this” kind of way.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Moving on to the art… It’s phenomenal. Doug Braithwaite is a fantastic artist who has an incredible talent for drawing detail without being overly complex with his panels. A lot of artists today try to be too complicated and/or too abstract and that can make the story hard to follow. Braithwaite does not suffer from that misguided philosophy. He draws damn good comics and that’s that. Additionally, each issue of Ninjak includes a Lost Files bonus story at the end of the main story that all connects. Previously the story had been about the origins of Colin as an agent but Operation Deadside changes that and seems to be about a new Shadowman. Now, Shadowman is definitely in my top 3 favorite Valiant characters so I’m eager to see how that side story develops and connects to the larger plot, but the thing I’m most excited about when it comes to the Lost Files story is that the art is done by Juan José Ryp. I freaking LOVE his style. It’s super detailed and kind of gruesome at times. It’s just so incredible and I’m really glad that he’s doing it.

 

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

If you’ve been looking to jump into a Valiant published comic, this is a great jumping on point. Hell, if you just want a really great series to jump into PERIOD, this is one I highly recommend. The writing is high caliber. The art is top notch. There’s nothing to dislike about Ninjak, and I stand behind that statement 100%. Ninjak #10, the beginning of the “Operation Deadside” arc, is a 4 star book if I’ve ever read one. Head down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy today!

 

Music Pairing –
Well if you’re gonna jam something while you read a Valiant comic, then you HAVE to make that jam A Sound of Thunder. And while reading this particular issue, that specific jam NEEDS to be the track “Punk Mambo” from their new album “Tales from the Deadside“.

The Best Comics NOT Set In Outer Space

A couple months back, Image Comics held their ImageEXPO and announced all their upcoming titles and plans for 2015. As I sifted through the news and Tweets and Facebook posts about all the new books we’re gonna be getting something dawned on me… They’re all set in outer f***ing space. OK, that’s an exaggeration. They’re not ALL set in outer space. But it feels like 85% of them are. So then I started looking at Marvel and DC’s titles, and ones from other independent publishers. It’s ridiculous how many comics rely on the crutch of “let’s just put it all in space” to explain their plots. Granted, many comic characters have origins in outer space and so you can’t expect them to abandon the concept altogether, but the fact that it’s becoming a widely overused trope (I assume I’m using that word correctly) is concerning because eventually it stops being a valid concept. “Oh look, ANOTHER comic about an unassuming hero/heroin (…now I know that can’t be right…) in a dystopian future who has to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to bring justice to Planet X in the Delta Quadrant. And oh goody, the entire first arc takes place on a spaceship. Great.”

It’s just irritating. Not that I don’t like some comics that are set in outer space, I do (SAGA, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Science), I just hate that it’s becoming such an easy way for people to tell mediocre stories. All they have to do is put their half-assed plot on a planet in a far-off galaxy and suddenly all the colorful and bizzare characters make it seem like they’re trying harder than they actually are. It’s like, they’re giving you a caramel dipped onion. You see it on the stick, all golden and delicious-looking. You think it’s a wonderful caramel apple. But then… you bite into it and begin cringing at the piercing bitterness. You have been betrayed by what you thought was a delectable treat. (KHAAAAN!)

OK, that’s a tad melodramatic. But, it is an overused plot-setting in today’s comic world, and for that reason I decided that I wanted to spotlight some great comics, currently being published, that do not employ the “outer space” excuse in order to tell a good story. Now, that doesn’t mean that some of them don’t have supernatural elements, which I guess could instigate some people to label me a hypocrite for having an issue with space comics but not supernatural ones, but those people are tools and can go to hell.

To help me with this list, I reached out to my fellow 4LNers Cameron and “formerly Straight-Edge” Bill for their thoughts on a few different series. We hope you’ll enjoy our list for… The Best Comics NOT Set In Outer Space.

 

 

Stephen:

Southern Bastards

I’m a big fan of Jason Aaron. Ever since the first volume of Scalped that a friend let me borrow, I’ve been hooked on the dude’s writing. He has a versatile writing abilities, but his most common style is something that I call “visceral sensitivity”. His writing style is very brutal, but it’s never a glorification of violence. He uses the cruelty as a way of making the story hit you all that much harder. I say all that to say… Southern Bastards is one of my favorite books right now, for that very reason. It’s brutal, it’s violent, it’s cruel. But it has heart. He gives you something to hate and then explains to you why it happened and how the characters got there. Nothing is superfluous. Everything has a point, every character has a reason for why they do what they do. If you want to read a really good comic with no superheroes, no supernatural elements, and no outer space cliche’s, then you should check out this series.

 

Punisher

The current Punisher series is like a cake (or an onion). Every issue is another layer that you peel back each month to see more of the story unfold. There are things that were set up in the very first issue that are resonating still, even into the most recent issue (#16), which just released. This is my absolute favorite version of Frank Castle and I really, REALLY, hope that Marvel is planning to keep Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads on for whatever comes for the character after all this Secret Wars junk.

 

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta

This book is a slow-burn. The creators intentionally designed it to be slow-paced, and they will tell anyone who asks that, and they will be unapologetic. Outcast takes its time with the set-up and unleashes the drama and terror at the most opportune time. With the most recent issue (#7) we see the start of a whole new story-arc, and Robert Kirkman seems to be recycling the format because they definitely put a lot of work into introducing what appears to be just the beginning of the dark, defining journey for Kyle and Reverend Anderson, the unassuming protagonists who (somewhat) reluctantly come to the aid of people who’ve been possessed by demonic spirits. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially if (like with Southern Bastards) you are someone who is interested in comics but just finds yourself uninterested in the mainstream superhero series’. You can pick up Vol. 1 in a comic shop near you right now, and as I previously mentioned, issue #7 just hit comic shop stands, so if you find yourself so inclined, you could get completely caught up in less than a day… just saying.

 

Escape From New York

I don’t have to say too much here (but I probably will anyway). Did you see Escape from New York and LOVE IT like a good, red-blooded American? Do you wish that you knew what happened to Snake Plissken immediately following the events of the film? Can you read? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you need to run out and pick up the fist handful of issues in this series. As a big fan of the “Escape from…” films (and just Kurt “Your rules are really beginning to annoy me” Russell in general), I personally love this comic. There have been many film-sequel comics lately that try to recapture the feel and vibe of their source film but this one (as well as the Big Trouble in Little China book) stands out as totally hitting the nail on the head (if that nail was being driven into some bad guy’s eyeball by Snake himself.)

 

Deathstroke (2014 – ongoing, so far…)

I kid you not, the very first thing I did after reading this was text Bill and tell him to go get Deathstroke #1 IMMEDIATELY, because at the time it was the most brutal, and intense mainstream comic I had ever read. I say “at the time” because there are now five issues out and this title has only gotten more and more brutal. In the most recent issue (#5), the first 15 pages of the book are just a fight between Wade and Batman (with Harley Quinn having instigated it). It’s the most ridiculous fight scene I’ve seen depicted in a comic since… I don’t even know… maybe something from when Garth Ennis was writing Punisher? If you do like superhero comics, but are more interested in series’ that have some bite to them, pick up this book. It’s got so much bite that you’ll have to get stitches.

 

All-New Ghost Rider
All-New Ghost Rider Vol. 1: Engines of Vengeance

I’m not gonna say I saved the best for last… but of you wanna say it I won’t stop you. The thing I’ve really loved about Felipe Smith’s run on Ghost Rider is that, besides giving us an awesome new Rider to love, he created a series that is self-contained, fun, BRUTAL, and manages to make some positive social commentary without being preachy.

 

Bill:

Wytches

Wytches is one of the few horror stories that I have ever read. I’m not much of a fan of creepy crawlers and things that go bump in the night, but I jumped on this book because it’s a creative team that I love. Scott Snyder and Jock, you can’t go wrong with that team. Along with the two of them Matt Hollingsworth is adding the colors and just blowing my mind. It’s a horror story about Wytches coming for a teenage girl who has more then likely been “pledged” by someone in the community. The story takes place in a small southern city, and mostly in the woods, and inside trees. It’s a story about things that go bump in the night, it’s a story about out past haunting us, and it’s a story about never being able to get away.

 

Batman

Another book by Scott Snyder, and this book can be a little terrifying as well. The latest story arc has Joker back in Gotham releasing complete terror on Batman, the Batfamily and the citizens of Gotham. This is just more reasoning on why no one should ever live in Gotham. Everything that happens in this story takes place in, or near, Gotham. The closest we got to Space was a Batman/Superman fight above the city. This has been the most consistent DC book since New 52 Relaunch and it’s one of the few books that hasn’t made a trip to space, or another Earth for that matter. It’s a self contained book and doesn’t jump between planets or galaxies.

 

Sex Criminals

Two people fall in love. They have sex. They stop time during intercourse and climaxes. They rob a bank to save a library. They learn that butt stuff and whatnot is dangerous. Other people have this power too. They become a problem. There is nothing going on in space. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are funny. This book is mature.

 

Green Lantern
An Intergalactic Police Officer jumping from planet to planet to stop crime… oh wait. That’s in space. Never mind. Bad example.

 

Cam:

C.O.W.L.

C.O.W.L. is one of my favorite books out there. It’s a gritty tale centered on a group of unionized superheroes in 1960’s Chicago – nothing spacey about that. The whole series has been terrific, and I would highly recommend picking up the trade paperback of the first arc. Ironically, this book is published by the mostly sci-fi-centric publisher Image, proving that titles don’t have to be set in a dreary, dystopian, future, alternate galaxy to be successful. Dreary, dystopian, 1960’s Chicago works just fine.

 

Ninjak

Ninjak is the newest re-addition to the Valiant family. It follows Colin King, aka Ninjak, a highly-skilled assassin/spy/ninja working alongside MI-6 (the same place that James Bond works). The first issue had him globetrotting from Russia, back to the UK, and to Asia to dismantle the sinister sounding Shadow Seven. Admittedly, this book just launched so there is a chance that they will somehow end up in space, but I have a strong feeling the setting will be almost exclusively Earth.

Fancasting Valiant Comics Movies

By now most all of you have heard the news that Valiant Comics was able to secure funding with their film division, for the purpose of developing their properties to hit the big screen. And I suppose the small screen too? Comic book shows are all the rage on TV right now, for sure. Well, being that my fellow 4LN writer Cameron and I have become big Valiant fans lately, we decided it would be fun to fancast our picks for who should play our favorite characters when the come to life. We reached out to our Valiant super-cool-uncle Steven Boyd (I was gonna say “Valiant godfather”, but that would age him more than would be fair) to see if he’d wanna jump in on the fun. He did! Check out our picks below, and let us know who you’d pick!

 

Bloodshot

Steve B: Thomas Jane as Bloodshot. He’s the friggin Punisher. He already knows how to act, can handle a gun and take a punch. Somebody give this guy some nanites already.

Cam: Anson Mount – If you are unfamiliar with Anson Mount, go watch AMC’s Hell on Wheels. This guy is gruff, capable of portraying a cold-hearted killer, and has the kind of square jaw, anti-hero attitude you would expect from a nanite-powered killing machine.

 

X-O Manowar

Steve B: Chris Hemsworth as X-O Manowar (Aric of Dacia). If Chris Evans can be the Human Torch AND Captain America, then Chris Hemsworth can be both Thor and Aric of Dacia. Solid actor, good physique and is versatile enough to play a Visigoth out of time.

Cam: Alexander Skarsgård – X-O Manowar is as Dacian from the 6th century who was captured by aliens, steals their most powerful weapon (a suit of high tech armor capable of destroying pretty much whatever he wants to destroy), and returns to modern day Earth after escaping. The character is a tall, blonde haired warrior of the North. I think Skarsgaard fits that bill perfectly.

 

Eternal Warrior/ Gilad Anni-Padda

Stephen: I’m going with Charlie Hunnam here. I feel like there’s a wealth of depth to that guy’s acting talents and I don’t think we’ve seen the extent to his abilities. Grow out his hair a little bit and dye it brown… I absolutely think he could be the Eternal Warrior.

Steve B: Michael Shannon as Eternal Warrior.

 

Toyo Harada

Steve B: Ken Watanabe – I thought this guy had the coolest voice in BATMAN BEGINS. I had never seen THE LAST SAMURAI, but when I think of Harada, I think of Ken Watanabe. Very commanding presence and a great actor in general.

Cam: I also pick Ken Watanabe – I literally cannot think of anyone else who could play the ultimate baddy of the Valiant universe. Toyo Harada is one of the most powerful psiots in the world, and hopes to use his power to force the world into peace, even if that means wiping out swaths of people along the on the way. Ken Watanabe is the chosen one for this role.

 

Rai

Steve B: Byung Hun Lee (Storm Shadow from G.I.JOE films) as RAI.

Stephen: I’m actually just gonna echo Steve on this one. I think Lee would make an excellent Rai. He’s definitely got the martial arts talent, and he can certainly pull of the cold, emotionless warrior persona. Plus, ever since I saw him in “I Saw The Devil”, I’ve felt like he deserves a chance to be the lead in an American film. The dude can certainly carry a film.

 

Ninjak

Cam: Tom Hardy – Ninjak, aka Colin King, is a British millionaire/billionaire(?) that also happens to be a badass ninja assassin/intelligence agent. A majority of the time his face is obscured by a mask that covers the lower half of his face. Who is a British actor that is good enough at selling emotion with facial expressions that he can wear a mask a majority of the time and still be awesome? Tom Hardy. Although Hardy would have to reduce his bulkiness back to Inception levels, but he has proven he can pretty much add mass and lose it at will.

Stephen: So, my choice for Ninjak is someone most of you have probably seen, but never knew… Scott Adkins. He’s been in films like Bourne Ultimautim, The Expendables 2, and Zero Dark Thirty. He has martial arts training in his background and was even in a movie called Ninja II. So… yeah. The dude could be Ninjak easy.

 

Ivar Anni-Padda, Timewalker

Steve B: Tom Wisdom as Ivar the Timewalker. My first relative unknown casting for the VALIANT Universe would be Wisdom, who played an ill-fated soldier in 300. He has a super-hero like quality about him and could probably do a great job playing a man out of time. Surround him with a great cast and you’ve got a hit.

Cam: Ewan McGregor – Ivar, the Timewalker, is an immortal time-traveler who is highly intelligent and also a bit of a sarcastic ass. Ewan McGregor could be believable as both an intelligent gentleman and a bit of a jerk in a Sherlockian sort of way. Also, if McGregor grew his hair out he would be a spitting image (I don’t actually know the origin of this phrase) of how Ivar is depicted in his new series.

 

Shadowman/Jack Boniface

Stephen: I’m going with Wentworth Miller (Prison Break, The Flash) for Shadowman. I feel like he’s got the chops to be the lead and he’s done action before, but I feel like one of the things that makes him stand out the most to me, is that he’s also a writer, with some darker-style work in his repertoire (Stoker, the upcoming psychological-horror-thriller The Disappiontments Room). Not only could he play Shadowman, he could write on the film as well…

Steve B: Taylor Kitsch as Jack Boniface. I thought he got Gambit’s Cajun accent down pretty good in X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE, plus he’s a very mysterious looking dude. And he’s been the lead in an action movie (JOHN CARTER). He’s your Shadowman.

 

Quantum and Woody

Steve B: Owen Wilson for Woody, and Michael Jai White for Quantum.  Michael has a super hero’s physique and I believe could play the straight guy in a comedy duo pretty good after seeing him in BLACK DYNAMITE. Owen Wilson is probably a little old for the role, but his Jethro Tull line from ARMAGEDDON wins him Woody’s role instantly.

 

Stephen: This was a tough one for me because Quantum & Woody is my favorite Valiant series. After much deliberation, I’ve settled on Beck Bennett (SNL) for Woody and Lance Gross for Quantum. Now I know he doesn’t *quite* have the look, and his sense of humor comes across more dry than sarcastic, but my reasoning for choosing Bennett is simple… Chris Pratt. If Andy Dwyer can become Star-Lord, then Bennett could become Woody.

Lace Gross is someone you probably don’t know, but he was a on a short-lived NBC drama-thriller called Crisis and he’s got the right look for Quantum. He’s not a comedian, and he can be serious, so balancing Bennett’s Woody with Gross’ Quantum would make for an excellent “world’s worst superhero team”.

 

Archer & Armstrong

Cam: Archer, Logan Lerman – This one took a little longer than the others. Archer is a younger character that is indoctrinated since his birth by an evil organization, but eventually realizes that he has been manipulated and teams up with the immortal hobo, Armstrong, whom he was sent to assassinate. He has the ability to mimic any ability he sees, be it physical or mental, and is in terrific shape. After seeing Lerman in both the Percy Jackson movies (the books were better, but he was good) and Fury, I think he has terrific range to play both the indoctrinated, hyper-religious assassin and the confused, burgeoning superhero.

For Armstrong, John Goodman – Armstrong is an affable, immortal hobo with a penchant for good drink and good poetry. During his long, long life he has rolled with the likes of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, but more recently has teamed up with Archer to form a buddy-cop comedy of a super-duo. I’ll admit, Goodman might be a tad old to play Armstrong, but he has the look, the humor, and the girth. He would be absolutely perfect.

 

Stephen: I like Dave Franco for Archer. Based on his performance in Unfinished Business, I definitely think he could capture the sheltered, naive aspect of Archer’s personality, and I think if given the chance he could hold his own in some action sequences.

I’m gonna just tag on to Cam’s choice for Armstrong here, and say John Goodman would be great, but to offer my own reasoning, I choose him because of his performance in Kevin Smith’s Red State. I remember seeing that for the first time and thinking, “When did John Goodman (kind of) get in shape and become a badass?”

 

Got some of your own suggestions for who should star in the Valiant Comics movies? Let us know in the comments!

4LN Comic Review: Ninjak #1

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

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

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

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

ninjak-001-covera-larosa-126452

Overview-
Outside of Star Wars, Ninjak has been at the top of my “Most Anticipated Book” list since it was first announced.  Maybe it’s the fact that he is like a cross between Batman and 007, or maybe it’s the fact that he is a freaking ninja working as an operative for MI-6, but this character just embodies awesomeness.

After reading a majority of the current Valiant catalog, Ninak (aka Colin King) quickly became a character that I wanted to know more about.  All of this anticipation lead to much higher expectations than I usually have heading into a series.  So did Ninjak’s debut hit its mark, or was it cut down by a swarm of anticipatory arrows?  Let’s start with the high points.

Highs-
Matt Kindt does a great job working back-story into the main narrative without it being distracting, and the back-story is… darker than I expected.  The primary storyline follows Ninjak as he tracks down Ruko (think Leelo from the Fifth Element, if Leelo was an genetically enhanced assassin), and attempts to take down the Shadow Seven.  This is made all the better by Clay Mann’s impeccable artwork.  There is one fight sequence between Ruko and Ninjak that is so good it feels like a movie instead of a comic (before I read it, Stephen called me just to tell me how awesome it was).

ninjak-001-006-126474

The second part of the book follows Colin on a mission before he was an apex killing machine, which gives good insight into what made him the man he is now.  This was written by Kindt with art by Butch Guice.  The art style is startlingly different than Mann’s, but the shift in style does a good job noting this as a flashback.

ninjak-001-008-126476

Lows-
Long time fans might not like the way he gets his name in the current Valiant universe.  As a newer reader, I couldn’t find much wrong with this issue.  Ninjak is a really cool character, and they did a good job laying a foundation for a new ongoing series.

The Final Say-
Very rarely do highly anticipated books live up to the hype, but this one does for sure.  Kindt is becoming one of my favorite writers, and Ninjak #1 was a fun read.  Valiant is putting out some great stuff with their current Valiant Next initiative, and I encourage anyone reading this to head to their local comic shop and pick up a a copy of Ninjak.  I give this one a 5 out of 5.

ninjak-001-007-126475

First Look: Valiant Unleashes Their Most Cunning Assassin in Ninjak #1

If there is one comic I could convince you all to get stoked about this year, it’s the new Ninjak series . (If there were TWO comics I could convince you all to get stoked for, it would be Ninjak and Bloodshot: Reborn.) March 11th will see the release of Ninjak #1, from their new ValiantNext initiative, and it looks really damn good if you ask me. Check out this advanced preview from Valiant:

Main Cover (Cover A) by LEWIS LAROSA

NINJAK #1 [VALIANT NEXT]

Written by MATT KINDT
Art by CLAY MANN with BUTCH GUICE

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

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

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

$3.99 US | T+| 40 pgs. | ON SALE 3/11/15

 

Also, check out these amazing variant covers!

Cover B by CLAY MANN

Cover C by DAVE JOHNSON

Cover D by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE

 

Make sure you pick a copy of Ninjak #1 when it hits comic shops on March 11th!

First Look: Matt Kindt & Pere Perez Ready for War on the “HOMEFRONT” in UNITY #15

Last week we reviewed Unity #14, which hits shelves this Wednesday (it’s great).  For the uninitiated, Unity is a great team-up series written by Matt Kindt, that includes some of Valiant’s greatest heroes.  Check out this first look at next months Unity #15 below!

Valiant is proud to present an advance preview of UNITY #15 – the FIRST ISSUE of “HOMEFRONT”, an an all-new jumping-on point from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (THE VALIANT, RAI) and Harvey Award-nominated artist Pere Perez (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG)! The riveting new story arc starts here on February 18th as Valiant superstars Kindt and Perez lead the world’s most elite superteam into a concussive showdown that will leave its members reeling…and rebuild Unity one hero at a time!

The United have left Unity decimated – a member lost, a terrible secret revealed, and the entire world turned against them. Not Harada, not Dr. Silk, not even the mighty Armor Hunters left the team as fractured as this! Now, Unity must decide where their place is in this new world and whether they will stand together or fall apart, beginning with the one teammate that might just be the most dangerous of all…the lethal intelligence operative called NINJAK!

Can the most powerful superteam the world has ever known withstand the shock of “HOMEFRONT”? Find out here as MI-6’s most dangerous agent…the one and only NINJAK…steps into the line of fire for a perilous new jumping-on point on February 18th in UNITY #15 – featuring covers by Raul Allen (RAI), Jenny Frison (Revival), and ChrisCross (Superman/Batman)!

For more information, visit Valiant online at Facebook.com/ValiantComics, Twitter.com/ValiantComics, and ValiantUniverse.com.
For Valiant merchandise and more, visit ValiantStore.com.

UNITY #15 (ALL-NEW ARC! “HOMEFRONT” – PART 1)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by PERE PEREZ
Cover A by RAUL ALLEN (DEC141726)
Cover B by JENNY FRISON (DEC141727)
Variant Cover by CHRISCROSS (DEC141728)
$3.99 | 32 pages. | T+ | On sale FEBRUARY 18 (FOC – 1/26/15)

 

c1a2ff7e-c446-45c0-9d6a-ac5e2e54b727 46fb2dcf-fc9f-4cf2-8843-51e9a65e7e0fa04df136-23fe-4eb0-a1f7-80fc174591e8 8ad8875c-eb51-4759-9533-51ff2236c5532f88df9e-4b48-499e-80bd-8dff7a23109626f1e630-799a-4767-8140-ac413b01aad1d4b3d1c2-4d0e-4b7b-9324-ad958ec3f072beaee841-d501-438b-8de3-f323bed22449

4LN’s Most Anticipated Comics of 2015!

As 2014 draws to a close, and we reflect on the great comics we’ve enjoyed this year, let’s remember that next year is right around the corner and holds some pretty exciting new series for us to indulge in! Here’s what we’re most looking forward to!

 

Bill – Gwen Stacey: Spider-Gwen.

Edge of Spider-Verse Vol 1 2
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 was one of the BEST comics I read in 2014. I really wasn’t expecting much from the event, but that issue two blew my mind. And when the news about Spider-Gwen getting her own series was announced I was super excited. The creative team behind the book, writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi are going to do a hell of a job one one of my favorite female characters, Gwen Stacey. I’m really excited for a new take on a character that I really love. And, I think she’s in great hands. We have already seen some emotional moments between Spider-Gwen and Earth 616 Peter Parker, so I’m interested to see how things go for the two of them after Spider-Verse. Be sure to pick up Spider-Gwen when it hits shelves in February! (She also plays in an all female punk band, do they want me to fall in love with her?!?!)

 

Cameron – Star Wars Comics from Marvel

My most anticipated comic of 2015 also happens to be the most anticipated movie of 2015 – Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday.

Star Wars
I am really excited to see what Marvel does with the property now that they have it back from Dark Horse, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome book.  Star Wars will be set directly after the events of Star Wars IV A New Hope and will detail what actually happened following the mass genocide via farmboy (aka the destruction of the Death Star) and go from there.  In the movie there is about a three year gap between A New Hope and Empire, so there is a lot of room to tell a good story there.  Speaking of telling a good story, the fact that Jason Aaron is involved is probably what I am most excited about.  He is a terrific writer and the fact he is involved makes me feel like Marvel will be taking this property seriously.  Star Wars #1 will hit shelves on January 14, 2015.

 

Stephen – Howard the Duck, and Valiant Comics

There are a handful of comic-industry things I’m looking forward to in the new year, but I’ll just narrow down to 2 specific things. The first is Marvel’s new Howard the Duck series, by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones.

Now, I’m not like a huge, old school fan of Howard or anything, but I’ve read enough of his stuff to know that the 80’s movie about him isn’t even close to being an accurate interpretation of the character. I also really loved the Marvel Zombies Destroy mini-series from a couple of years ago that had him teaming up with Dum Dum Dugan. Probably the main reason I’m so excited about it is that Chip Zdarsky is writing it. Chip is one funny motherf@#er, and if you don’t believe me, then go follow him on Twitter. He is also the co-creator and artist for Sex Criminals; an Image Comics series that all intercourse-experienced adults should be reading. I am confident that Howard’s sarcasm and the tongue-in-cheek nature of his series are in capable, and culpable, hands with Chip at the helm.

The other thing I’m stoked about for 2105 is the new line of books from Valiant Comics. I’d say I’m most excited about Ninjak and Bloodshot: Reborn. Valiant Comics have been KILLING IT lately on their series’ and if the first issue of The Valiant is any indication, we’re in for some kick-ass books from this publisher in 2015.

 

Are you excited about any of these new series? Is there something else in the comics world you’re pumped to see in 2015? Let us know in the comments below!