Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Valiant

4LN Advanced Comic Review – SECRET WEAPONS #1

Writer: Eric Heisserer
Art: Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure. A young girl who can talk to birds… A boy who can make inanimate objects gently glow… To others, these are expensive disappointments. But, to Livewire, they are secret weapons…in need of a leader. Now, as a mechanized killer called Rex-O seeks to draw them out, Livewire and her new team of cadets will be forced to put their powers into action…in ways they never could have imagined…

SECRET WEAPONS works on multiple levels.  We will get into the main two levels – story and art – shortly, but on a personal level, the book’s setting is my favorite part.  SECRET WEAPONS takes place in downtown Oklahoma City near Bricktown, a place I’ve been many times.  While I am a Nashville native, OKC and surrounding areas is home to almost all of my family.  Seeing Livewire and the psiots she is working to protect roam streets that I’ve personally driven is pretty awesome.  I’m sure New Yorkers are tired of it, what with 98% of the Marvel universe rampaging through NYC, but as a son of two Okies, I love seeing it represented in comics.

SECRET WEAPONS looks and reads beautifully.  It is written by Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who is also the screenwriter for the upcoming Bloodshot and Harbinger films.  It appears that this might be his comic book debut, and it’s damn fine.  The characters are unique, and the odd powers the psiots exhibit (making inanimate objects glow, talking to birds, etc.) lead to some really good comic relief when the story gets dark.  Heisserer is joined by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín, who go the extra mile to deliver some truly beautiful art.  Allén has such a unique style that almost resembles a type of pop art, and Martín’s colors are beautifully vibrant. One of the coolest things about this book is the work Heisserer and Allén put into making the setting authentic.  Each of the major locations are modeled after real-life landmarks in Oklahoma City, and that attention to detail sets this book apart.

If you’ve never picked up a Valiant title before, this is a good place to start. The creative team hit a home-run with all facets of this book. SECRET WEAPONS hits the stands on on June 28th, so tell your shop to order you a copy or two!

4LN Comic Review – Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1

Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Renato Guedes and Ulises Arreola
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

It is a time before civilization…

On the brink of carving out victory in the most violent battle of his life, Gilad Anni-Padda suffers a devastating injury. He awakens weeks later in a strange land, nursed back to health but with no memory of his past. A tribe has shown him compassion in an age of cruelty, and he will return their gift in kind. Now the real violence will begin…

New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps.) and acclaimed artist Renato Guedes (BLOODSHOT REBORN) lead a celebration of the Eternal Warrior’s 25th anniversary here with the second of four standalone specials honoring the most famous Valiant tales ever told!

EW-AWAKE_001_COVER-A_CRAIN

Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior, Fist and Steel of the Earth is a farmer, and a poor one at that.  The warlord that struck the blow that took his memory is cutting a swath across the earth destroying everything in his way, and he won’t be stopped until he has the head of the Eternal Warrior atop his throne of bones.  Now Gilad must reclaim his memory, reclaim his mantle, and get to work.  If that doesn’t scream “EPIC” at the top of its lungs, I don’t know what would.

Robert Venditti’s Wrath of the Eternal Warrior is a great 15 issue run that dives into the mythos of the character’s ability to raise from the dead. Now, with Awakening, Venditti is going traveling to before to the turbulent era before human civilization.  The first 8 issue Eternal Warrior is the series that brought me into the Valiant world, so I always look forward to another adventure, and this issue did not disappoint.

The story stands on its own and provides a really cool tale about the Eternal Warrior’s past.  The tone is dark, and there is a really great interplay between that tone and the bright palette used by the color artist Ulises Arreola.  The artist Renato Guedes has worked on everything from the X-Men to Superman, and his work on this issue perfectly captures the violence of the era.  The action sequences are visceral, the characters are unique, and the desolate landscapes are beautiful.  I would love to see Guedes do more work for Valiant in the future.

Ultimately, Eternal Warrior: Awakening is a clinic in how to do a one-shot.  The creative team works well together setting an intense tone for the book, and it makes me pray to the Valiant leadership that more Eternal Warrior is on its way.  Eternal Warrior: Awakening hits the stands this Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  Make sure to track down a copy with the veracity of Alpha Hyamm.

Check Out A Sneak Peek At Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1 Below!

EW-AWAKE_001_COVER-B_GILL

EW-AWAKE_001_001EW-AWAKE_001_002EW-AWAKE_001_003EW-AWAKE_001_004EW-AWAKE_001_005

4LN Comic Review – Harbinger Renegade #1

Series – Harbinger Renegade
Writer – Rafer Roberts
Art – Darick Robertson, Juan José Ryp, and Raúl Allén
Color Artist –Diego Rodriguez, and and Frankie D’Armata
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

ANYONE YOU KNOW COULD BECOME A PSIONICALLY POWERED “HARBINGER” WITH THE POTENTIAL TO RESHAPE THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY. YOUR NEIGHBOR. YOUR BOSS. YOUR BEST  FRIEND. YOUR KIDS. Six months ago, a secret team of renegade whistleblowers leaked the existence of these extraordinarily dangerous individuals to a stunned world. Today, all across the country, crude, DIY psiot activation attempts have left hundreds brain damaged…or worse. The emergence of a new psiot in a community often leads to riots and mass violence. Gun sales are through the roof. America is terrified of what could happen next. With this revolutionary upheaval now in motion, Kris Hathaway, John “Torque” Torkelson, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Peter Stanchek are about to discover their calling. Together, the HARBINGER RENEGADES are moving from town to town, building their ranks, and subverting authority one mind at a time…and setting out to prove once and for all that behind their power, there has always been a purpose. This November, the most fearless superteam in comics is going underground for AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES from Harvey Award nominated writer Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm) and superstar artist Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan,The Boys)!

url

Harbinger Renegade has to be one of my most anticipated books of the year. Ever since the book was teased, my internal clock has been ticking down the days until it hits the stands. The previous 25 issue run of Harbinger was a terrific story with great characters, and it appears the superteams reemergence is going to pick up the torch and run with it.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the book, let’s start off with the cons: there aren’t any. This is one of the strongest debut issues I’ve read in a while. I really like Rafer Roberts and his work on A&A has been really fun, but the tones of these two series are vastly different. I was curious to see how his writing style would adapt to the darker tone of the Renegades.

Well worry not Valianteers, this issue was awesome.

url-1

Roberts gets each member of the Renegades right, and the cult leader, Enfuego (because he has fire powers), is sufficiently crazed. I really enjoyed seeing how the now-disbanded Renegades deal with the less-than-stellar consequences at the end of the first series. It certainly wasn’t a storybook ending, and each member is dealing with it differently. As we’ve seen in Jody Houser’s Faith on-going, Faith is one of the only Renegades still wearing the superhero mantle, while Torque and Kris are each handling it inline with the personalities of the characters (which shows that Rafer did his homework and is staying true to the characters).  Oh, and there is a new villain on the block, and I am interested to see how he challenges both the Renegades and Valiant’s original big bad Toyo Harada.

Now lets talk about the art. This issue has a several creative teams, and all of them are terrific.  The book opens with a cool minimalist looking introduction by Raúl Allen, who has been doing some great work on Valiant’s Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.  The introduction gives a quick recap of the original run to get the reader up to speed on the main players and terms of Harbinger.  Then Juan José Ryp gives us a brief look at Harada trying to take down his mysterious competition.  Like all of his work, Ryp’s art is strong and visceral.  Finally, the main story is illustrated by Darrick Robertson, who has a cool style vaguely reminiscent of 90’s art to my untrained, casual comic reader eye.  His panel breakdowns on each page are really interesting, and the last few panels in space are just beautiful.

url-2

Like I said, I have been waiting on this book since it was first teased last year.  A lot of times, the anticipation can lead to a sense of being let-down since you kind of over-sell the idea of the book to yourself BUT Rafer Roberts and company deliver on every level.  Make sure you head down to your local comic store and pick up Harbinger Renegade today!

PS. make sure to save the coupons in this series to mail in and get a copy of Harbinger Wars 2 #0!.

url-3

4LN Comic Review – FAITH #1

Series: Faith
Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Pere Pérez, Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran, with colors by Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant

Summary from Comixology:

AN ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! Because you demanded it?the high-flying hero that captured the imagination of the world is back with a colossal new comics milestone! In a city under siege by robots, aliens, monsters and even worse? celebrities, there is only one woman the people of Los Angeles can count on: the stratospheric superhero called Faith! Aspiring reporter by day and dedicated crime-fighter by night, Faith has tackled every obstacle in her path with confidence – like those crushing deadlines at work, the long-distance boyfriend half a world away, and the missing back issues that plague her comics collection! But, unbeknownst to her, Faith is about to collide with the one force she never saw coming: an up-and-coming super-villain bent on snuffing her out once and for all! But who is lurking behind the mask of her new foe?and could they just be the one person capable of rendering Faith powerless? Jump on board now to find out why Valiant’s one-of-a-kind hero is inspiring a whole new generation! Be here as FAITH moves from her sold-out mini-series?and into the history-making debut of her first-ever ongoing series!

url-5

Faith has become somewhat of a phenomenon in comics.  She’s a fangirl turned superhero that first appeared in HARBINGER, then got her own soldout 4-issue miniseries helmed by Jody Houser.  It was so popular that, during it’s run, Valiant announced that Ms. Houser would return for a FAITH ongoing series.  I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t completely sold when the first issue of the miniseries came out, but Jody Houser’s fantastic ability to tell an intriguing story and infuse it with so many nerd references made me a believer.  Needless to say, I have been pretty excited for FAITH #1.

Let me start by saying that Houser knocked it out of the park on this issue.  She just seems to get what it means to be obsessed with nerd culture.  Throughout the book we see references to Star Wars, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons (called Mythos and Mayhem), comic cliche’s, how many superhero movie actors are named Chris, and so much more.  It’s just endearing, which is rare in comics.  Her love of comic books is what helped her through losing her parents, and she wants to use her powers for good because she enjoyed reading stories about people granted amazing abilities and using them selflessly.  She struggles with self-doubt, and is constantly struggling to figure out how to juggle everyday life with her extraordinary powers.

url

Her inner-monologue almost breaks the fourth wall in a great way.  She is still learning what it means to be a hero, and her love of nerd pop culture is the lens she views heroism through.  It makes the character relatable no matter what gender, shape, or color human you are.

The art team does a good job mashing up several different styles, and the colors really, really pop.  I like how the main story, the flashback sequence, and the dream sequence were all done in a different style.  It made the story much easier to follow, and provided some variety in the 40+ issue debut.

This is a killer first issue that not only sees Faith meet her first true arch-nemesis, but also does a great job filling in readers that maybe haven’t read HARBINGER or FAITH the Miniseries.  Jody Houser is a fantastic writer who injects a lot of humanity into her books, which not only makes the book fun to read, but relatable to what I imagine is a larger part of the population (excepting maybe the dude-bros and/or cynics).  FAITH #1 hits the stands on Wednesday, make sure to pick up your copy as soon as possible.  The Future of Valiant has begun, and it started off on the right foot for sure.

url-2 url-3

 

Comic Bento: Is It Worth It? (+ Unboxing Video!)

If you are anything like me, which you would have to be for this generalization to work, you might occasionally see an advertisement on Facebook for a subscription service called Comic Bento.  For $20 plus shipping and handling (less if you get the three-month or twelve month plans), Comic Bento provides an assortment of graphic novels that revolve around a certain theme.  This boxes theme is “Rewriting History.”  Below we will list out the items we got in the box, and the price you can purchase them for on Amazon.

Mankind: The Story of All of Us – $14.99

Writer: Various  Artist: Various

OCT121294_1._SX640_QL80_TTD_

I like watching the History Channel, especially when I am laying in bed at night.  MANKIND: THE STORY OF ALL OF US is a series of short stories detailing major events in human history from post-Ice Age through the Crusades.

Summary from Comixology: “From the producers of America the Story of Us comes the epic tale of the rise of civilization. The 12-hour series spans the first flourishing of civilization in Mesopotamia through the discovery of America. Groundbreaking production techniques bring to life the greatest landmarks and milestones of human achievement. CGI rebuilds lost worlds; large scale reenactments replay critical battles; innovative use of interactive maps dynamically illustrates the key factors that gave rise to civilization across the globe. MANKIND: The Story of All of Us emphasizes the simultaneity of the human adventure — how ancient Egypt thrived while Stonehenge was being built; China was at its zenith while Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages. HISTORY captures the danger, action, struggle, heroism, and adrenaline of MANKIND: The Story of All of Us!”

 

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol Volume 1 – $16.46

Writer: Stuart Jennett  Artist: Stuart Jennett

1852829

The back of this book shows Albert Einstein firing a machine gun, and flipping through I saw a dinosaur eating what looked like Nazi’s.  Sold.

Summary from Comixology: “Nazis, dinosaurs, and a war for all time!

When the Nazis develop time travel technology, only the Sarge and his misfit band of Chronos Commandos can stand against them – with the Cretaceous as their battleground!

Fearsome raptors, giant spiders, and a towering Nazi nemesis: the commandos face many foes in the fight for the future. The body count is high – and few will make it back alive!

This collection of the stunning first series is packed with exclusive features – including declassified files, unseen sketches, and blueprints.”

 

Ivar, Timewalker Volume 1 – $9.99

Writer: Fred Van Lente  Artist: Clayton Henry

239759._SX640_QL80_TTD_

This is a fantastic series.  It’s definitely my favorite out of the books in this box.  Make sure to check out our interview with Mr. Van Lente about his work on IVAR, TIMEWALKER and ARCHER & ARMSTRONG.

Summary from Comixology: “From the dawn of the dinosaurs…to the Battle of Trafalgar…to the end of time itself…the first century-spanning adventure of IVAR, TIMEWALKER starts here!

At this very moment in Geneva, Switzerland, history is being made. A thousand meters underground inside the Large Hadron Collider, researcher Neela Sethi is about to discover time travel – and jeopardize her life in the process. But she doesn’t know that yet. Ten minutes from now, every deadbeat chrononaut, wannabe conqueror, and misguided protector of the timestream will be banging down her door. Good thing that the legendary Ivar, Timewalker, got there first… right? Now it’s down to history’s most jaded, most tempestuous time traveler to stop the worst of everything that is, was, and will be… before time runs out!

New York Times best-selling creators Fred Van Lente (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, Amazing Spider-Man) and Clayton Henry (HARBINGER, Incredible Hercules) begin a clock-stopping odyssey into the distant past, far future, and every moment in between right here with the first volume of Valiant’s latest epic – intro-priced at just $9.99 for new readers!”

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past – $12.09

Writer: Chris Clairemont  Artist: John Byrne

601575

This is probably the biggest book in the box.  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is a classic that has been around since the Reagan administration.  Summary from Comixology: “Collects Uncanny X-Men #138-143. Re-live the legendary first journey into the dystopian future of 2013 – where Sentinels stalk the Earth, and the X-Men are humanity’s only hope…until they die! Also featuring an appearance by Alpha Flight and the return of the Wendigo.”

Well there you have it.  For $20 plus shipping and handling you get over $40 worth of books, so financially it is worth it.  Here’s the thing, I know that you can do a lot of leg work, hit a bunch of comic stores, and probably walk away with the same four books at about the same price, but that’s not what makes subscription boxes so fun.  The biggest selling point of the Comic Bento service is the randomness of the books provided.  It’s a lot of fun opening the box and seeing what books they curated for you.  Make sure to check out our unboxing video below!

4LN Comic Review – 4001 A.D.: Bloodshot

Series: 4001 A.D.: Bloodshot
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doug Braithwaite, with Brian Reber on Colors
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Valiant Entertainment:

“Once upon a time…in the year 4001 A.D…

Centuries ago, Bloodshot was the man called Ray Garrison. Now, in the year 4001 A.D., Ray Garrison is no more…but the nanites that once thrived inside him endure still. With their master long since gone, the microscopic machines that once drove Bloodshot through every firefight, healed every wound, and calculated every outcome have one final directive left to execute…but what could it possibly be? And how will the forces of the future react when the infamous man-turned-machine called Bloodshot returns to fight another day?

The future starts now as New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (BLOODSHOT REBORN) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) bring Bloodshot barreling into the 41st century of the Valiant Universe with an all-new, standalone tale at the epicenter of 4001 A.D.!”

image

Overview:  The 4001 A.D. event has been incredible thus far.  If there is one thing Valiant knows, it’s how to pull off a great summer event, that is neither contrived or money grabbing.  Lemire’s 400l A.D. BLOODSHOT continues this tradition.

I’m not going to lie, when I first saw the new look for Bloodshot I was a little hesitant.  The amorphous, nanite body with the Bloodshot head seemed a little far-fetched, even in a world with timewalkers, hive-mind aliens, and beings with the power to manipulate time, space, and matter.  After reading it though, I have to admit that it’s pretty damn cool.  Lemire’s story is great, frequently pulling scenes directly out his work on BLOODSHOT REBORN and last years BOOK OF DEATH: FALL OF BLOODSHOT book, and even providing a sense of closure after what happened at the end of FALL OF BLOODSHOT.  As far as the art is concerned, Doug Brathwaite and Brian Reber pull off some KILLER panels throughout the course of this book.  There were several pages where I just stared at the page taking in every little detail – and there is a LOT of detail.

image

Bloodshot is just such a cool character, possibly even one of the greatest in Valiant’s pantheon of heroes, and Lemire has him dialed in.  His stories are frequently introspective, which is hard to pull off with a character who’s primary purpose is murdering people to death in a variety of ways.  His run on BLOODSHOT REBORN shows us a more subdued Ray Garrison, who is still trying to find his place, and 4001 A.D.: BLOODSHOT gives this fantastic hero both closure, and a possible new beginning.

If you are a fan of Bloodshot, sci-fi, or stories about artificial intelligence, then this is the book for you.  Not that it is a contest, but I liked this one-shot even better than X-O Manowar’s, and that book was also fantastic in its own right.  Make sure you head over to a comic shop (or Comixology if you prefer digital comics) and pick up 4001 A.D.: BLOODSHOT (out June 8), as well as the rest of the 4001 A.D. event books.

image

image

image

image

image

image

4LN Comic Review: Divinity II #1

Series: Divinity II
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary:

The much-anticipated follow-up to the five-time sold-out series that The Onion/A.V. Club calls the “Best New Superhero of 2015” is here! The acclaimed creative team returns for a perfect new jumping-on point into the expansive sci-fi saga that shook the world!

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent three cosmonauts farther than anyone has gone before or since. Handpicked orphans with no connections to Earth, trained as devout Communists, and restricted from having families, they became lost in the stars and encountered something Unknown… Something that changed them.

Long thought lost and erased from the history books, Abram Adams was the first to return. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. But, even with limitless powers, he is concerned only with the secret love he hid away from his superiors and the unborn child he never met.

Now, Miska, the female co-pilot of the group, has also returned to Earth…but, unlike Abram she had no secret family. Unlike Abram, she still believes in the Communist ideal. And, unlike Abram, she intends to play a very real role in the return of Soviet glory.

Earth is about to meet a new god. And she’s a Communist. How long can it be before the nations of Earth bend before DIVINITY?

333230._SX640_QL80_TTD_

In the first DIVINITY, Abram Adams, a Russian cosmonaut, reaches the end of the known universe and is basically imbued with powers that establish him as a sort of benevolent god who can control space and time.  In the end, love for his family (that he wasn’t supposed to have) outweighed his love of Mother Russia, and he abandoned the other two cosmonauts and returns to Earth where he ultimately enters a self-imposed isolation after a brief run in with Unity.

DIVINITY II #1 provides an interesting antithesis to that story.  Unlike Adams, Mishka puts nothing above the Soviet Union.  She sees Adams abandonment as treason against the USSR.  In her return to Earth she discovers that the Soviet Union has fallen, and decides to use her considerable powers to help restore the Motherland to its former glory.

I’m not going to lie… I had a hard time understanding the first DIVINITY.  I think if I had read it all at one time, it probably would’ve made more sense to me.  Matt Kindt is a brilliant writer and is simply much, MUCH smarter than me – and that’s okay.  With that being said, DIVINITY II made more sense to me in the context of the first one.  The world had already been built.  Instead of trying to comprehend the mind-bending journey that lead to Abram Adams extraordinary powers, I am asked to understand absolute loyalty to one’s ideals and the feeling of betrayal.  This book was really good.  The DIVINITY books have always been on the trippier side, and this one is no exception, as you will see from the previews below.  The art team, consisting of Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and David Baron, pulls off some insane panels and makes it look easy, while Matt Kindt, as always, writes a strong, character driven story.

It will definitely be interesting to see where this series goes.  I love the idea that Adams is this benevolent deity that just wants to keep to himself, while Mishka wants to help Putin rebuild the USSR.  Her belief that Abrams is a traitor also sets up an interesting confrontation between two incredibly powerful Russian-cosmonauts-turned-deities.  One thing is for sure, Valiant is putting together the best shared universe in comics, and the introduction of DIVINITY II adds another element to the mix.

click click-1 click-4 click-5 click-3 click-2

4LN Advanced Comic Review – Faith #1

Series: Faith
Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Francis Portella and Marguerite Sauvage
Publisher: Valiant

Summary from Valiant:

FAITH BEGINS! VALIANT’S MOST DEMANDED HERO STEPS OUT OF HARBINGER…AND INTO AN ALL-NEW ADVENTURE!

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 listicles 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 she ever thought when Zephyr 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?

Rising star Jody Houser (Orphan Black) and explosive artists Francis Portela (Green Lantern) and Marguerite Sauvage (DC Comics Bombshells) pilot a new chapter for Valiant’s high-flying hero right here in Faith’s first-ever limited series!

FAITH_001_COVER-A_DJURDJEVIC

Faith is one of Valiant’s most anticipated titles this side of their 4001 event later this year.  In an industry full of unrealistic body types and over-sexualized heroines, Faith sets herself apart in both appearance and attitude.  She is a major fangirl with a heart of gold that loves comic books, Dr. Who, and sci-fi.  Her love of these nerd culture staples is what helps her decide to dive headfirst into her superheroism.  Faith got her start in Valiant’s fantastic Harbinger series, which follows her and four other psiots that take on Toyo Harada, one of the most consistent and powerful villains in the Valiant universe.  Faith follows the titular heroine as she settles down in LA, comes up with an alter ego, and even tries to get a job as a reporter (because that’s what superheroes do), but settles for “pop culture blogger” when she realizes reporting has kind of gone the way of the payphone (though she gets an office – we at 4LN do not have offices unless you count the couch).

FAITH_001_001

So how does it stack up?

The comic itself is self aware and pokes fun at both the current superhero genre and the people that make fun of it.  There were several jokes that had me immediately texting Stephen because the jokes are things we talk about on a weekly basis (in between bouts of pleading with our kids to not do whatever destructive thing they are doing).  What I am trying to say is Jody Houser and Francis Portella do an incredible job on this debut.  The story and the art are both fantastic, which makes this culturally significant book a delight to read.

I was hoping for a good story when I saw that this book was announced however long ago, but I am surprised by just how well it’s was done.  You cant tell that Jody Houser understood both the relevance of the subject and the source material.  Faith #1 will hit the shelves on January 27, 2016, and it should definitely make its way into your hands.  Five out of Five Zephyrs!

FAITH_001_002 FAITH_001_003 FAITH_001_004 FAITH_001_005 FAITH_001_006

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 Advance Comic Review – Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1

Series: Wrath of the Eternal Warrior
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Raúl Allen
Publisher: Valiant

Summary from Valiant Database:

For five millennia, the Eternal Warrior has shaped history at the end of his sword. He’s razed empires, toppled civilizations, and broken armies as an immortal soldier in service to the Earth.

But now, the Eternal Warrior has been torn from the world he once protected and finds himself stranded in a hostile alien landscape unlike any he’s faced before. Separated from his earthly environs, can history’s deadliest soldier survive a realm far older, far deadlier, and fare more ruinous than anything he’s ever encountered? Beyond Earth lies eternity…

This November, New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (BOOK OF DEATH, X-O MANOWAR) and visionary artist Raúl Allén (NINJAK, Hawkeye) forge a new legend for Valiant’s master of war with an all-new ongoing series in…WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #1!

 

WRATH_001_COVER-C_NORD

Before we get started, I want to let you, the reader, know that I will do everything I can from giving anything away about the story.  Instead, I will focus on why it was so good.

I have been looking forward to the return of Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, since the end of the last three issue mini-series Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel by Peter Milligan and Cary Nord (the artist that did that awesome variant cover above).  Despite only having a total of 11 stand-alone issues, Gilad has always been one of my favorite characters and was actually first step into the Valiant Universe.

When Wrath of the Eternal Warrior was announced, I immediately began to wonder who the writer was going to be.  I was nervous at first, because I really wanted this series to hit the ground running so I could get more than a couple of issues of a stand-alone Eternal Warrior title.  Then Valiant announced that none other than the Valiant Chosen One (and Green Lantern Guru), Robert Venditti, would be at the helm.  For the uninitiated (you really should get initiated – we have hand-signals and everything), Venditti kick-started the new Valiant by writing the flagship title X-O Manowar, and is also responsible for the Book of Death event, both of which have been excellent.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior is a surprisingly intimate tale that reads more like myth than it does a comic.  We have seen Gilad speak of immortality as a curse, and this issue delves in to what makes this even more tragic than we realize.  Instead of just battle after battle, we get to see the toll Gilad’s dedication to protecting the Geomancer lineage takes on him, as well as those most important to him.  He has always been this gloomy, brooding character, and we have had hints as to why, but this issue lays it out in a beautiful and powerful way.

Joining Robert Venditti is the incredibly talented Raúl Allen who puts out some wonderful work in this issue.  Allen’s landscapes are haunting at times and warm in others, and ultimately perfectly in sync with the story.  Mixed in with these grand full page spreads are series of small panels that provide an interesting look into what Gilad is experiencing and the anguish in the choice he always has to make.

Venditti and Allen put out a startlingly great first issue that looks to provide new insight into Valiant’s most noble characters.  Very few books made me feel like I immediately had to reread them, but I immediately picked up again Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1 after I set it down.  The story was intimately epic and lays the groundwork for some fascinating future issues.  While this issue is terrific, it would be good for readers to read the Book of Death and The Valiant minis before diving into it.  The Valiant sets up Book of Death which, in turn, gives rise to Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.    If you like noble heroes and epic tales with a sprinkle of Greek tragedy, then this is the book for you.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior will hit the racks on November 18th!  See below for a preview of the book courtesy of Valiant.

WRATH_001_001WRATH_001_002WRATH_001_003WRATH_001_004WRATH_001_005WRATH_001_006