For Broken Frontier I was able to interview both creators of Oni Press’ recent release, Labor Days, which is a fun, mature, crazy OGN (original graphic novel). It follows Londoner “Bags” Bagwell and his worldwide trek for a mysterious videotape. Hilarity, and action, ensues. My interviews with writer Philip Gelatt can be found here and with artist Rick Lacy here. You can also check out a huge preview here.
As someone with a vague awareness of the current goings on in the Top Cow universe, it’s always a welcome feeling to jump right in to a random title and not feel lost. Called the “Fatal Conclusion” to this mini-series that focuses on the top three supernatural powers (The Darkness, Witchblade and Angelus) the title is a good indication of the events of this issue. It begins with long-time ‘Blade wielder Sara Pezzini at the door step of fellow cop Patrick Gleason, and she brings a war with her. Gleason has been with Sara for a while now, so it’s about time his eyes were opened to all her supernatural secrets. He manages to stay focused long enough to save the life of an old man whom he must have befriended in the previous issues, and demands that this ancient looking Asian drop the “mysterious curator” act and tell him what’s going on. By the way, he looks like every mysterious curator you’ve ever seen in a movie – long fingernails, long white facial hair and a long robe. He promptly tells Gleason of thirteen artifacts that are keys to mankind’s fate.
While this conversation continues, Sara and Jackie, who’s somehow now The Darkness Unplugged, have their backs against the wall when Celestine AKA Angelus and a few of her gorgeous friends arrive to lend a helping hand – for the other side. New character Finn does some fighting of his own while looking like a Hulked out Iceman, and yes, there is a death as promised on the cover, but this is comics after all, so only time will tell what that means exactly. It wasn’t the death I was expecting and is handled with good suspense.
Writer Ron Marz and artist Stjepan Sejic continue to work beautifully together. Sejic renders the battle in glorious fashion, and had me wishing that the last episode of Angel looked like this. His painterly effects are always pleasant on the eye, and here he seems to be bold enough to experiment with layout and page design. Hopefully, he’ll continue to. Marz proves he’s the master of simple action yet again. There are some big (and not entirely original) ideas at play here, but he knows how to make a comic accessible. Secret Invasion and Final Crisis are just as grand concepts, but Broken Trinity achieves the same level of comic book soap opera with less issues, and characters. If you’re a fanboy who doesn’t know what to give a newbie, anything written by Marz will be a sure thing, as the experienced scribe entertains without confusion every time. The last few pages are a treat too, and herald a new direction for the characters in its pages. Where Top Cow take those left standing after this event should be just as interesting to watch.
For a preview of this ish, go here.
Not Mike Allred’s cult comic book hero, but rather the distributor of anime and manga goodies. Just in time for Christmas, they have a bunch of stuff on sale from toys, shirts and DVDs. Head on over to their website to scope out the complete list of sale items.
Here’s a few key items to check out in the meantime:
Capcom Girls Cammy – Street Fighter Figure (Web Exclusive) Only $26!
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya: Tsuruya-San Statue (Web Exclusive) Only $55!
Madman Magnet Only $1!
Samurai Champloo Tshirt Range Only $5-$8!
Ghost in the Shell Trading Figures (Web Exclusive) Only $2!
Excel Saga Trading Figures (Web Exclusive) Only $5!
Neon Genesis Evangelion Cd Soundtrack Only $10!
Death Note 4.2″ Mini Figures (Web Exclusive) Only $10!
Bleach Tshirt range Only $10!
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Neon Genesis Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone – Rei Ayanami in Plug Suit (Web Exclusive) Half Price at $50!
Transformers Statue Range Prices Transformed as low as $30!
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Radical Publishing have done it again. The company’s Freedom Formula had me drooling over the pages and now we have a new contender. City of Dust by Steve Niles, the writer most known for his horror work (30 Days of Night) shows that he can cross genre boundaries with ease. The second issue reads a lot quicker than the first one, after last month’s set up of the premise and characters, and the premise is this: a sci-fi city where the words dystopia, totalitarian and Big Brother seem appropriate descriptions. Yes, it may remind you of 1984 and the under-rated 2002 film Equilibrium (starring Christian Bale) with the government stamping down on works of fiction and seeking to control its citizens through strict laws. However, City of Dust is shaping up to be a series that shakes off such simple comparisons. It has a look that will appeal to fans of Blade Runner and Minority Report – all gloss and sheen, but with a hidden dark side, and Niles brings in elements often unfamiliar to such tales to give it a new edge. Mainly those elements involve something Niles is very familiar with; nasty beasties and gore. Melding sci-fi and horror is a wise move, and this series needs it to lift it above the obvious comparisons mentioned.
Protagonist Philip Khrome is a detective who, as a child, dobbed in his father for reading him a bed-time story; an act which is illegal in his city as such fantasies can warp minds and lead to all sorts of weird behaviour. Fanboys will be familiar with this theory. Last issue Khrome was discovered reading a children’s book red-handed (under a corpse no less) and in issue #2 is investigated by the doubting GBI for his actions. More is revealed about Khrome’s relationship with his father as he discovers that the corpse and his imprisoned Dad are somehow connected. Plot points are also set up here that will surely lead to Khrome questioning who he can really trust around him, including his fellow cop, Sonja. There are also more obvious horror themes here than last issue, with the various creepies beginning to reveal themselves (as the GBI discover the hard way) and presumably make their way into the real world to show that they can not be so easily forgotten. A showdown between jet pack, ray gun wielding police and drooling inhuman creatures ought to be fun to witness, if that’s where Niles is going with this.
The book looks great, as many have come to expect from Radical. Choosing Imaginary Friends Studios, the Singaporean based art studio was a real find. It may be hard to discover extraordinary, new talent in this industry and Radical have looked where perhaps no other company has- outside the obvious fan base and disovered some real gems. Zid, this series artist continues to give the book a CGI look that’s a touch shy of Adi Granov, with just as much depth and texture. The motion and action are less than the first issue, but we have scary looking monsters and gruesome deaths to make up for it, and there are two double page spreads that are very impressive indeed. Radical needs to lock Zid into an exclusive contract, and quick. The variant covers that each title receives is also a nice touch and this has got to be the best of the bunch. You’ll be hard pressed to decide which of the four you want to take home.
There are only three issues left of this series, so hopefully Khrome wakes up, monsters show up and the city changes its view on what’s acceptable reading material after all is said and done.
Below is a five page preview of the new Jim Butcher series, from Dabel Brothers Publishing, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Storm Front. The comic is written by Mark Powers and drawn by Dresden veteran, Ardian Syaf. The first issue is released on November 12.
This is based on Butcher’s first Dresden novel and centres on wizard Harry as he looks into a double murder. Some more good news for Dabel is this: The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle hard cover was listed as 4th in Amazon’s Customer Choice Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2008 and reached the third spot in October on Book Scan.
DC’s Wildstorm inprint know their way around a good game licence, especially with Gears of War and World of Warcraft under their belt. Comics based on games usually fare a lot better than films based on games, so it’s a good thing we’re seeing a lot of adaptations lately. Mirror’s Edge is developed from the November 13 released game based on a sci-fi version of parkour. If you’ve seen the opening of Casino Royale or the excellent French film, District B-13, you’ll know what that is – a unique style of constant motion and acrobatic movement. Basing a game on the concept seems crazy enough that it just might work, especially considering the popularity of every Spider-Man game. Hopefully the game will be about more than just running and diving and rolling though, as that novelty would soon wear out its welcome. Hopefully there’s some FPS stuff in there too.
Back to the comic – it’s not bad. There’s no set-up or introduction of the main characters, but there’s only a few so that’s not a problem. Artist Matthew Dow Smith will be unfamiliar to most, but his body of work is quite impressive, outside of the superhero realm for the most part. I was expecting something with more flowing, organic lines to compliment the story, such as Bart Sears’ or Kyle Hotz’ style, but Smith’s hard edges, and Jim Charalampidis’ colour palette works well in the dystopian city context. Rhianna Pratchett’s script is bare but gives us the necessary details – runner/messenger Faith is learning the ropes from the older Merc in an underground resistance movement when she soon realises that her father is somehow involved. Pratchett wrote the script for the game (and is the daughter of Discworld writer, Terry Pratchett) and lays an intriguing foundation for this world, with further details to come in future issues of this mini-series I’d gather.
The game looks great and has many fans already. The comic so far appears to be a nice intro with a similar visual style and simplicity. Plus, who could resist that cover?
Remember when the Superman titles were going through a great overhaul in 2000, and Lex Luthor became President? That. Was. Awesome. And for me the only time US politics was interesting. Lex should’ve stayed Pres longer. Anyway, Marvel have a good relationship with TV host/comedian Stephen Colbert and he was Presidential nominee in the Marvel U. Alas, his victory was not to be, as evidenced by the Daily Bugle article below, with a nifty classic Spider-Man cover homage.
This is sad news. DC have confirmed that Robin, Nightwing and Birds of Prey will all be finishing up in February, presumably as part of their Batman R.I.P finale, and its after effects. They may very well continue in different forms, (like a new anthlogy) or new titles though, and I guess at least one of the characters appearing in those books may become Batman, if Bruce Wayne retires, or whatever. I’d like it to be Tim Drake (the current Robin) with Spoiler as a female Robin again, but who knows? It would certainly get the press’ attention, and DC need that desperately.
This is the only BOOM! series that I’ve been following with any regularity. The first issue was a winner and the last two issues proved that this book was more than just a hip concept. By the way, that hip concept is this: a cosmonaut is murdered on an international space station, and everyone’s a culprit. The 128 page TPB collecting the entire 4 issues is out in December if you want to read the complete thriller, but every issue has been structured well enough that they stand on their own very well, like little shots of caffeine. Writer Johanna Stokes has a TV background, so it’s no surprise that she crafts each ish tightly. They give just enough character moments and intrigue to keep the story moving to its inevitable conclusion.
We witness two more deaths in this final issue. Usually deaths in space involve aliens or asteroids, so the more scientific (but no less humane) deaths presented in this series is a novel one. I’ve seen my fair share of horror films over the years, so it’s good to see some unique fatalities presented in Station. They may be bloodless, but no less painful.
Having the guilty party discovered in the first few pages is also an interesting device. It’s not who I was expecting, and red herrings were planted across all three previous books, throwing most readers off the scent I’d imagine. The killer’s motivation is not a new one though, and all is not said and done after the big reveal. The station is falling apart, the shuttle that was their only means of survival is drifting off into nothingness and more finger pointing and shouting ensues. It looks like no-one will survive this mess, but somehow two manage to.
The last page is rather poetic (despite the grammatical error) but may be a let down for some after the rather hectic pace throughout the series. The pencils in this final ish, by Leno Carvalho aren’t as strong as the earlier outings either. There certainly appeared to be less detail and scientific gadgets here, and it was those elements that helped sell the initial claustrophobia. Those are minor gripes though and I’m so glad I stuck with this title since its inception. It probably could have managed an extra issue or two, as we never really came to understand the large cast, which quickly dwindles to 3 survivors in #4. However, Stokes and Carvalho have presented a nice package here, and the level of research Stokes must have done has paid off to sell the realism, matching perfectly with Carvalho’s almost-Bryan Hitch level of artistry.
If you want something apart from the capes crowd, check the Station collection out next month. It’s worth reading it all the way through.
Top Cow obviously believe in this vampire project from writer William Harms and artist Matt Timson. So much so that they’ve given the series its own dedicated website, where you can read the entire first issue on-line for free. Woo hoo! Free! The series lasted three issues at Image before it finished, but now the entire story, with the three never-before-seen last issues, is now available as a TPB from Top Cow. Plus a new ongoing series kicks off in December.
Sure, there have been many vampire stories over the years, or even, centuries. However Impaler has a nice twist. It centres on the original vamp (and historical figure) – Vlad Tepes AKA Vlad the Impaler, as an anti-hero killing vamps as they overrun modern day New York, and the world. Expects lots of blood and action. Take a peek at a few moody Jae-Lee-like random pages below.
So, Magneto goes mad and vows revenge. It’s a tune he’s been playing for decades, but this time, its in the Ultimate universe (Marvel’s alternate line of more accessible books). Ultimatum is out now and is a 5 part mini-series focused on the helmeted bad guy’s swathe of destruction across the Ultimate U, involving earthquakes and tidal waves and such. The tagline is from Mags’ mouth – “For what they’ve done, they will have to pay the Ultimate price.” I have no idea what they did, as I’m only a casual Ultimate reader, but I’m sure all will be revealed. It echoes of DC’s similar use of Lex Luthor’s line in an early Superman/Batman issue – “There will be a crisis…a reckoning,” which eventually came to pass with Infinite Crisis. A preview of Ultimatum’s premiere ish is below. The series is written by Jeph Loeb (Hulk) with great art by David Finch (Avengers: Disassembled).
This will be a short one, as I’ve only just started the game, but it’s not bad. It certainly makes an impression with it’s classy opener, and that’s just introducing the logos from the various companies involved. Then you, as Spidey, are thrown straight into the thick of it, and play catch up throughout the game, eventually making sense of the story. Basically, a bunch of alien symbiotes (the kind that birthed Venom) are running amok in New York. Seeing MJ Watson with a shotgun at the start seems out of character, (but maybe she would go hardcore if her friends are in trouble) as does Spidey later asking the cops, “Where’s MJ?” Not good for the secret identity there, wall-crawler. Unless of course, the game takes place in the brief time after Civil War and before One More Day, where Spider-Man’s secret ID was publicly known. There are a few cameos, such as Moon Knight, and Luke Cage as your trainer who teaches you some great combos, and baddies like Black Cat and Vulture. Wolverine shows up too and the battle drags on as you have to answer questions to convince him that you aren’t corrupted by the symbiote. You think it would only take 1 or 2 correct answers, but apparently Wolvie likes to fight his mates. There are a few nice fanboy in-jokes, such as the signs scattered around the sprawling city, which is not entirely destructable. You can pick up cars with the black suit, but not lamp posts, or other items.
The fighting system defies the laws of physics, with Spidey flying more than swinging, but it looks great. Even the films don’t have this level of awe as he swings about like an acrobat/contortionist. Being able to flick between the classic red and blue suit and the Venom one is nice, as the latter is stronger and has unique combos, but is slower. Games based on comics are really stepping up to the plate lately, and hopefully they’ll continue to bring fans into the material that inspired them. Brian Reed helped write this, as he did with the also-cool Ultimate Spider-Man game from a few years back, which landed him a career at Marvel.
I’ve loved this series since it began with Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness a few years ago. Like any series, it’s had its ups and downs, but there’s something classic about these two characters working together. The last two issues were hilarious, with junior versions of the two heroes, plus a few of their closest friends, and foes. This ish is more serious, thanks to Supes baddie Silver Banshee, who somehow swaps the powers of the two heroes. Michael Green and Mike Johnson start things off well for this new story arc, and Rags Morales (the excellent Identity Crisis) does a fine job of pencilling. The full review can be read here.
Back at the glory days of Infuze (BTW writer Robin Parrish who started the on-line mag has just updated his site. Check it out) I got a swag of goodies from the fine folks at Zondervan, one of the world’s largest Christian publishers. I only managed to review the first two issues of the awesome Hand of the Morningstar before Infuze went bye bye. That is a great series and there are many more in the great Zondervan Graphic Novels line, which is a black and white series of all-ages books with biblical values. My first review for this unique line is now up at Sight, where I talk about both Morningstar and Timeflyz. Hopefully I can work my way through the remaining first two books of the rest of the titles. Hopefully. Anyway, if you’re looking for faith affirming and entertaining comics for yourself or your kids, check out their books, or groovy website for a better idea.