Key of Z #1-2 Review

I must confess that I haven’t read a BOOM! comic for a while. In fact, the last series was DuckTales for our similarly themed podcast episode.

Key of Z intrigued me though, written as it is by partners Claudio Sanchez (of band Coheed & Cambria) and Chondra Echert, the pair behind writing the bold Kill Audio series about an immortal troll. Plus the artist here is Aaron Kuder is also responsible for Sanchez’s The Amory Wars. Time for another confession – I’ve read little of either, but I know both were filled with big ideas and daring art, so their take on zombies I had to see. Yes, I know zombies are the flavour of the month, or rather year, but having not been exposed to much Walking Dead (although I’m keen for Australia to get the TV series), I thought it was worth a look.

Opening with Nick Ewing and his family having a lovely time during Christmas Eve, they have their pleasant bonding interrupted by a zombie Santa outside their window, which is as freaky as it sounds. Jumping forward to 2012, the undead epidemic is underway and New York is divided into three fiefdoms, or Houses who live in the stadiums of the Mets, Yankees and Madison Square Garden. It’s an interesting setup to what could’ve been yet another predictable apocalyptic tale. Jumping forward to 2016, Ewing is out getting some fresh air (whereas most survivors prefer the safety of their sporting stadium). Seeing Ewing grow a beard and muscles over the span of 5 years is a nice and realistic touch, and it’s here that he meets Eddie Alvarez, a skinny, scared collector who lives at a library, and is virtually ignored by his own gang. They slowly befriend one another and exchange recent life stories before a detour to a cave of antique weapons and a surprise attack  by a mass of flesh eaters.

Editor Matt Gagnon’s letter mentions what is fairly obvious, with comic DMZ, Walking Dead and cult film The Warriors being an influence on this story, and I get the feeling that only being vaguely aware of those 2 series has helped me enjoy this more. Gagnon also mentions that Ewing’s wife and boy were murdered, although that’s not overtly stated in this first issue.

In the second issue which is set two years before the debut ish, we get to know the three houses more. Atwater is the more educated leader and reminds me of Morpheus in the last Matrix film, whereas Lavoe is far less interested in the needs of others and resembles Scarface, in his tax charging and brutal regime. The pair meet for a treaty and Lavoe bluntly states that he isn’t interested in any altruistic deal with Atwater and Jackson. In the aftermath of the devastation, Ewing learns that a silver harmonica his son gave him on that fateful Christmas has magical properties. Well, perhaps magical’s not the best word, but it’s certainly unique and when played properly, give shim the powers of a putrified Pied Piper, bringing the zombies right to him. It seems like an odd ability, but I guess Ewing is stronger and faster than the zombies, so at least he knows where they are and can destroy them so as not to be surprised later.

Ending with more interaction between Ewing and Alvarez, and a mission for revenge steers the last two issues of this mini-series to a good place.

Kuder’s art has to be mentioned. With its fluid linework, and simple, yet effective details such as textures it evokes Frank Quitely. Coupled with Charlie Kirchoff’s col0ur choices (subdued and quite hazy during dramatic scenes, bold during the zombie bashing) it looks pretty and never ventures into bloodthirtsy territory. Yes, there’s teeth flying and charred corpses, but it never looks over the top.

These 2 issues mark the halfway mark, but I’m already sold and I’m glad I let my curiosity get the better of me. Key of Z #1 and 2 are out now, and #3 will be released on December 28.

It’s All About Planet of the Apes

It’s a good time to be a POTA fan, and next month will be even better. BOOM! Studios’ new Planet of the Apes comic has recently started, and next month sees the release of the first TPB collecting the series’ first four issues for only $10, which ties into the mythology of (and is set before) the original films. The same month, the fifth issue is released, for only $1 and is the start of a new story arc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t wait until then, you might want to check out the just launched Apes webcomic, which updates every Wednesday and is written by the man behind BOOM!’s series, Daryl Gregory.

A new free five page RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES digital comic book story debuts on http://www.apescomics.com July 13th and each Wednesday afterwards until the final 10 page epic conclusion on August 3rd, two days before the film’s release!

It’s set before the newest film, which opens on August 5 and stars James Franco and Andy Serkis in another motion capture role.

Speaking of the film, here’s the latest trailer.

Finally, Archaia are publishing their first illustrated novel on July 25. It’s called Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes and is described thusly:

After his spacecraft smashes into the dead sea of an alien planet, a man is separated from his fellow astronauts when a raiding party of intelligent apes attacks them. Captured, he finds himself a prisoner in a world turned upside down, with apes as the rulers and man in its zoos. His only hope is to communicate with a couple of chimpanzee scientists who just might be open-minded and compassionate enough to be sympathetic to his cause. But the man named John Landon will discover that intelligent minds, be they ape or man, all fear the unknown, and his destiny is not to become part of this new world, but instead to find himself under the knife of a simian brain surgeon on the PLANET OF THE APES.

Written by Andrew E.C. Gaska and featuring 30 full colour paintings and 19 illustrations by some great artists and a cover by Jim Steranko, it’s set within the events of the original 1968 film.

Extra Sequential Podcast #48-July Previews

46 mins. We look at the goodies in the latest Previews monthly catalogue, for September releasing comics. Also, Mladen guesses the identities of the new Justice League International,  plush toy that reminds us of Kevin Bacon, Ice Man’s clothing choices and the Dead Block zombie game.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

1:20 NEWS

Marvel’s Facebook popularity

Dark Horizons’ best comics films list

The upcoming animated film Batman: Year One trailer

Warren Ellis and D’Israeli’s unique, ultraviolet comic, SVK

Harvey Award nominees

Read Orc stain #1 for free

Heroes and Villains comics exhibition

11:52 THEME-JULY PREVIEWS

We recommend stuff from a gamut of publishers including Dark Horse, IDW, Alterna, BOOM! Studios, and Fantagraphics. We check out comics such as a few of the DC relaunches, Ghostbusters #1, classic Flash Gordon, Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand, Daniel Clowes’ The Death Ray, Michael Zulli’s The Fracture of the Universal Boy, Frank Miller’s Holy Terror!, Korgi, James Jean’s Rebus art book, Star Wars comics art, and blueprints books, and some possibly alluring Halloween costumes. Phew.

Elric: The Balance Lost

I quite enjoyed the Elric #0 issue BOOM! offered during this year’s Free Comic Book Day, and I’m looking forward to this official kick-off of the new series too. Yes, what follows is a rather lengthy press release, but the point it raises of BOOM! premiering digital releases is a good one, and people tend to forget that. I remember when North Wind #1 debuted on MySpace and it being a pretty controversial move at the time. Now, however, everyone’s getting on the digital bandwagon,  including The Big Two (Marvel and DC) and realising its potential.

BOOM! STUDIOS DEBUTS ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST AS DAY-AND-DATE RELEASE

READ THE ELRIC FREE ONLINE PRELUDE AT WWW.ELRICCOMIC.COM

BUY ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 IN PRINT OR DIGITALLY TODAY

THE PIONEERS OF “DAY-AND-DATE” KEEP LEADING THE FIELD

Today BOOM! Studios launches their latest epic series ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 with a historic day-and-date release of print and digital, making this new series available through your local comic shop and online exclusively through the BOOM! Studios Comics App and the Comics by comiXology App at the same time! Paired with this epic promotion, BOOM! also gives comic fans a chance to try out ELRIC absolutely free through their web browser with the ELRIC FREE ONLINE PRELUDE available at www.elriccomic.com. That’s right! Three ways to try the all-new epic series ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST written byNew York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (iZOMBIE, SUPERMAN) and drawn by white-hot artist Francesco Biagini (DINGO) based on Michael Moorcock’s seminal fantasy creation. Pick up or download your copy today!

BOOM! Studios pioneered day-and-date releases in the comic industry back in January of 2008 with the debut of the NORTH WIND series and continued this innovative promotion with HEXED a year later. With ELRIC, BOOM! enters its third year as the cutting-edge leader of “day-and-date” release.

“We were the first to do day-and-date back in 2008 and now we’re doing it again with Elric! We’re pumped to offer ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST in both print and digital on the same day partnered with a new website, www.elriccomic.com, that hosts an original 10-page story.  If you love Elric or are new to the character, the website will introduce you to the series and leads directly into the new issue for sale in print or digital!” says BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. “Chris Roberson and Francesco Biagini take Michael Moorcock’s seminal fantasy character to the next level with such an epic scope from the very first page that it’ll be hard to put down!”

“Jumping aboard an all-new comic series has never been this easy!” says BOOM! Studios Marketing & Sales Director Chip Mosher. “With so many ways to check out ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST, you’d be crazy to not take advantage of these great promotions. And be sure to let your friends know that they too can check out the exciting prelude to the ELRIC series, absolutely free at www.elriccomic.com!”

“With ELRIC, we’re not only focusing on print and mobile devices exclusively, but getting out onto internet browsers that billions of people use every day,” says Marketing & Sales Director Chip Mosher. “While there are only 25 million iPads out in the marketplace, there are billions of potential readers that have the ability to find comic books through their internet browsers. With our ELRIC microsite at www.elriccomic.com we’ve not only included a complete prelude for free, but information on how and where to buy our comics both in print and digital — linking to both print, mobile vendors, and the lesser-known web-based option where you can buy and read through the browser as well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic fans, be sure to visit your local comic shop today to pick up your copy of ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1. Not sure where there’s a comic shop near you? Visit http://www.elriccomic.com/local-comic-shop to find out! And for all you folks that love digital comics, you can download ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 from the BOOM! Studios Comics App or Comics by comiXology App today!

Created by Michael Moorcock, Elric has thrilled comic fans for more than 40 years beginning with an appearance in Marvel Comics’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN #15 in 1972. Neil Gaiman called Michael Moorcock “my model for what a writer was” while Warren Ellis said he is one of the “eight core sites in my creative genome” — now, the godfather of the Multiverse concept brings one of the most critically acclaimed and most recognizable figures in the history of fantasy fiction back to sequential art with BOOM! Studios’ ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST!

And if you’ve never heard of ELRIC, you’re in luck! BOOM! Studios is offering the ELRIC FREE ONLINE PRELUDE for anyone to read online at www.elriccomic.com! Showcasing an original complete 10-page story not found in the first issue, along with artist bios and a brief history of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion ELRIC!

ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST features the return of Michael Moorcock’s legendary Multiverse, featuring some of the greatest fantasy characters of all time: Elric of Melniboné, Corum of the Scarlet Robe, and Dorian Hawkmoon in a brand-new story that will test the courage of the Eternal Champion! In this new series, the workings of Fate are being tampered with across the Multiverse, upsetting the Cosmic Balance. Elric of Melniboné must preserve the Balance and save the entire Multiverse from ruin. But no sooner has his journey begun than he is waylaid by dark forces and lost on the Moonbeam Roads. Elric finds himself stranded on a world where Chaos holds sway and where change is the only constant. Heroes are forced into action far and wide, but will they fight on the side of Law or Chaos?

With both the BOOM! Studios Comics App on the iOS platform and the Comics by comiXology App on iOS and Android devices, you can buy ELRIC on either your iPhone, iPad or Android device and enjoy it on that device. When you buy a comic on one of these mobile platforms, you can also enjoy reading the comic through the comics.comixology.com website. If you do not own a mobile device and want to read the comic digitally, all you have to do is go to comics.comixology.com to buy ELRIC to read on your PC or Mac through your browser. Utilizing www.elriccomic.com as an introduction and a portal gives comic book readers an easy way to enjoy the free prelude, then buy the first issue in print at their local comic shop, on their mobile device or on their browser.

In late August, comic book retailers everywhere will be able to participate in the sales of BOOM! Studios digital comics as BOOM! Studios and comiXology roll out retailer digital store fronts.

ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 debuts in print and digitally today, July 6, 2011, and is written by Chris Roberson (iZOMBIE, SUPERMAN) and drawn by Francesco Biagini (DINGO) and includes an afterword by Neil Gaiman. This title ships with A & B covers in a 50/50 split with art by Francesco Mattina and Francesco Biagini respectively, as well as a 1-in-10 incentive cover by Dennis Calero and a 1-in-25 incentive cover by Tim Bradstreet. This premiere issue can be purchased at your local comic shop, through the BOOM! Studios Comics App, Comics by comiXology App and the web atcomics.comixology.com for $3.99. ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 carries a Diamond Code of MAY110918.

Starborn #5 Review

BOOM! sure do go after the big names; Disney, Planet of the Apes, Mark Waid, Stan Lee. Lee is of course the architect of the early Marvel Universe and helped birth Spider-Man, X-Men, et al, but the last few decades have seen him do not much writing and more overseeing. That’s kind of what he’s doing here, giving a few story ideas to modern scribes and letting them do their thing. I haven’t read may of the handful of Stan Lee’s …. line of new series, but this issue is geared as a jumping on point, so I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

Written by Chris Roberson (Cinderella; From Fabletown With Love, Superman) with art by Kary Randolp and Mateo Scalera it focuses on wannabe novelist Benjamin Warner. Stuck in a droll job he discovers that his dream girl Tara is actually a shape shifter form another planet and that the aliens coming to get him seem to be ripped from his imagination.

As this ish begins, Benjamin in a fancy space suit, Tara and a sceptical General Cur are inside Demon,  living spaceship hurtling through space trying to come to grips with how, or if, Ben’s mind has created what he’s living, before getting attacked. On earth a few cool looking aliens, led by a dreadlocked female surmise that Tara’s group, Crimson Hand hid their advanced technology on earth before fleeing and Demon lands on  mining planet to heal. While a disguised Tara haggles for supplies, Ben saves a woman and her child from an angry, whip wielding local and Ben learns that A. His hi-tech suit is full of surprises and B. For some reason he’s known on this world, and isn’t popular at all.

It’s not a perfect jumping on point as there is a fair lot of story to digest, but is an entertaining sci-fi story of the classic ordinary-man-in-extraordinary-circumstances approach. I’m curious to know more about Benjamin and just why his imagination is becoming real, and the place he plays in the universe. The art is amongst the best of these Stan Lee tales too, with a slightly sketchy yet expressive cartoony style that works with unfolding drama and Ben’s frequently overwhelmed expressions.

Also included is an action packed 8 page preview of Insurrection V3.6 #1 which looks like an interesting sci-fi tale too.

Planet Of The Apes #1 Preview

For an old French sci-fi novel, Planet of the Apes sure has some longevity. The upcoming prequel has now had a third title change and is now known as Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It stars James Franco and Andy Serkis and opens in August. If you can’t wait that long, BOOM! Studios has you sorted. The publisher is releasing its new Planet of the Apes comic at the end of this month. Multiple covers and preview pages below.

HITTING STORE SHELVES APRIL 27, 2011!

BOOM! Studios brings you a stunning first look at the all-new ongoing PLANET OF THE APES comic series hitting store shelves April 27,2011! It’s a bold new vision of the classic Apes universe written by award-winning sci-fi novelist Daryl Gregory (Dracula: The Company of Monsters, Pandemonium) and drawn by sensational artist Carlos Magno (Green Lantern Corps). So be sure to contact your local comic shop to reserve your copy of PLANET OF THE APES #1 today!

Taking place before the original 1968 PLANET OF THE APES movie, but true to the continuity of the first five films, this new ongoing comic series begins in a time when Ape society reaches a new golden age. But there are ripples of dissent in both the ape and human ranks. Tensions will rise and soon all will be caught in chaos! And amidst all this uncertainty, what is the fate of…The Lawgiver? Find out as a new chapter of the acclaimed sci-fi classic, PLANET OF THE APES, begins this April!

PLANET OF THE APES #1 is written by Daryl Gregory with art by Carlos Magno and ships with an A & B cover by Karl Richardson and Carlos Magno respectively, a special 1-in-10 “Damn Dirty Apes” incentive cover and a retailer variant for Larry’s Comics by Chad Hardin! This title ships in April and carries a Diamond Code of FEB110852.

Amory Wars For Newbies

Musician Claudio Sanchez (from the band Coheed & Cambria) is also an accomplished comics scribe, with his sci-fi epic Amory Wars continuing at BOOM! Studios. I interviewed the man himself right here (on page 60) and if you’re like me and new to the Amory Wars story, now’s the time to see what it’s all about.

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ & BOOM! STUDIOS BRING YOU A HUGE WEEK FOR AMORY WARS RELEASES:

NEW READERS! JUMP RIGHT INTO THE ACTION WITH THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #1 $1 EDITION

CATCH UP WITH ANY ISSUES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED WITH THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 VOL. 2

CONTINUE THE EPIC SCI-FI SAGA IN THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #9

Claudio Sanchez and THE AMORY WARS fans prepare for a release of gigantic proportions as today, Wednesday, March 30, 2011, three fantastic titles take you back to Heaven’s Fence with THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #1 $1 EDITION, THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 Vol. 2 and THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #9. Start, catch up and continue the epic sci-fi saga written by musical mastermind Claudio Sanchez with comics legend Peter David , and featuring sensational art by BATMAN & ROBIN’s Chris Burnham, Kyle Strahm and Aaron Kuder!

For anyone who’s never experienced Claudio Sanchez’ intergalactic 12-issue tour de force, THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #1 $1 EDITION is an amazing way to jump straight into the action for $1. That’s right! For only one dollar, begin Claudio Kilgannon’s adventure of war and rebirth against the evil forces of galactic dictator Wilhelm Ryan!

Enjoy the series but not sure if you’re reading the whole story? THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 Vol. 2 collects issues #5-8 and drops you right in the middle of the greatest war Heaven’s Fence has ever known! It’s heart-stopping action as Inferno leads his rebel forces against the sinister Wilhelm Ryan and Mayo Deftinwolf’s Red Army. But when the dust settles, the war is far from over.

Once you’re caught up, continue the unfolding space opera with the latest release THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #9! The grand victory of Inferno and the rest of the Rebellion soon gives rise to their biggest fear. When an evil figure reappears…Heaven’s Fence faces its darkest hour. Claudio Kilgannon must step up and be the hero the universe needs — but will he answer the call?

THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #1 $1 EDITION is written by Claudio Sanchez and Peter David with art Chris Burnham. This issue carries Diamond Code of JAN111024 and a price point of only $1. THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 Vol. 2 collects issues #5-8 and is written by Claudio Sanchez and Peter David with art by Chris Burnham with Kyle Strahm and Aaron Kuder. This issue carries Diamond Code of JAN111022 and a price point of $14.99. THE AMORY WARS: IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3 #9 is written by Claudio Sanchez and Peter David with art by Aaron Kuder. This issue carries a Diamond Code of JAN111021 and a price point of $3.99.

Read Hexed #1 For Free

The Hard Cover collection of BOOM! Studios’ wonderful magic centred mini-series, Hexed came out in 2009 (and was the first printed publication to quote this humble blog on the inside cover!) and now you can read the whole first issue for free at Newsarama, which I highly suggest you do. It’s written by Michael Alan Nelson with cheeky visual flair from artist Emma Rio,who has since gone on to draw Strange, Runaways and Osborn at Marvel.

If you like what you see, the TPB (with the cool Paul Pope cover, below) has just been released, collecting the whole original 4 issues for the first time in affordable Soft Cover.

Booming Peanuts

With two simple images released today, rising indie publishers BOOM! Studios have announced that their BOOM! Kids line is now called Kaboom!, and that the first series under that banner is a biggie – Charlie Brown and co. Whether Peanuts will be reprints or what, we don’t know as yet. Great scoop though.

Malignant Man from BOOM! Studios

This new series from BOOM! sounds interesting. It’s co-written by James Wan, but I can’t seem to confirm anywhere that it’s the same James Wan of the Saw franchise fame. Strange.

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER!

ENTER THE STRANGE TWISTED SCI-FI WORLD OF MALIGNANT MAN

A BRAND NEW ORIGINAL SERIES BY BOOM! STUDIOS COMING THIS APRIL!

This April enter the twisted sci-fi action epic MALIGNANT MAN, where a doomed cancer patient discovers the sickness thought to kill him will transform him into something more powerful than he could ever imagine! Written by James Wan, fan-favorite author Michael Alan Nelson (28 DAYS LATER, DINGO) and art by international sensation Piotr Kowalski, MALIGNANT MAN is sure to be the most exciting original sci-fi series on comic book stands this April!

“MALIGNANT MAN will shock and awe!” says BOOM! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher. “If you’re looking for an epic adventure that’s action packed, pulse-pounding sci-fi at its very best, you can do no better than BOOM! Studios’ newest series MALIGNANT MAN!”

MALIGNANT MAN tells the story of Alan Gates, a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, who’s resigned to his fate…until he discovers that his tumor is actually a mysterious parasite! Granted a second lease on life and incredible, otherworldly powers, Alan must fight against an evil army buried beneath society’s skin, all the while unlocking the secrets of his forgotten past. Dark, twisted, and unlike anything else on the stands, MALIGNANT MAN is a sci-fi thriller that can’t be missed!

MALIGNANT MAN is written by James Wan and Michael Alan Nelson (28 DAYS LATER, DINGO) with art by Piotr Kowalski. This title ships in April with A and B covers in a 50/50 split by Trevor Hairsine and Rael Lyra respectively and carries a Diamond Code of FEB110851.

Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers #1 Preview

Based on the cartoon that ran for 65 episodes from 1989 to 1990 comes new adventures from Chip and Dale, starting in December. Being a child of the ’80s, I certainly remember the ‘toon. Now BOOM! Studios are catering to your nostalgia with a new series starring the chipmunk detectives/adventurers.

Official details and great looking preview below.

It’s the return of your favorite furry flatfoots in an all new original ongoing series! Coming on the heels of BOOM!’s bestselling DARKWING DUCK ongoing series, BOOM! continues the the Disney Afternoon Revolution with CHIP ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS as the diminutive detectives embark on all-new original adventures! This is the series that will have you singing that song you can never forget: ‘Sometimes some crimes go slipping through the cracks. But these two Gumshoes are picking up the slack. There’s no case too big, no case too small, when you need help just call -Ch-ch-ch-Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers!’

CHIP ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS #1 is currently available for pre-order from your local comic shop. To contact or find the local comic shop nearest you be sure to use the Comic Shop Locator. CHIP ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS is written by fan-favorite DARKWING DUCK author Ian Brill, with art by MARVEL SUPERHERO SQUAD’s Leonel Castellani and ships with two covers in a 50/50 split by Leonel Castellani and Magic Eye Studios respectively, with a 1-in-10 incentive cover by Jake Myler. CHIP ‘N DALE RESCUE RANGERS #1 carries a Diamond Code of OCT100886 and is shipping this December.

Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1 Review

Everyone knows who Stan Lee is. Of course, most non-comics readers probably think he created Superman and draws for Marvel now or something, but his reach is deservedly wide. Since he left the writing desk long ago he’s now more known for his appearances on TV shows about “real” superheroes and cameos in Marvel films.

No-one expects Lee’s writing to be as revolutionary as the days in the early ‘60s when he gave the world Spider-Man, X-Men, etc but he has nothing to prove anymore and it’s great to see that even as he approaches his 90th birthday he’s still active. BOOM! Studios surprised everyone with their “Stan’s Back” teaser earlier in the year and now we know what it’s all about. Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero is the first cab off the rank, with two more ongoing series (November’s The Traveler and December’s Starborn) to follow, all overseen by Lee and created by others. Paul Cornell is the scribe behind Soldier Zero, with Javier Pina supplying art and Dave Johnson as the designer of the main character. That’s an impressive line-up.

Captain Stewart Trautmann meets a fellow wheelchair bound citizen Shannon in the first few pages of this tale before catching up with his brother James and letting the exposition flow freely. That includes the fact that Trautmann was wounded in the Afghanistan war and is hoping for a relationship with Lily, a woman he works with at the Astrophysics department of Caldon University.

Waiting for a meteor shower with fellow staff members, and students, Trautmann reveals to Lily how he ended up in the wheelchair in an effective flashback to his war service and the pair share in a few awkward moments.

Throughout this issue short scenes of a suited alien attempting to escape a laser firing spaceship show up and in the last third the alien’s world and Trautmann’s collide. Elements of Green Lantern and Firestorm reveal themselves in the use of a human in an intergalactic war and two beings sharing the same body, but Pina’s expressive visuals and likeable lead may just pull this one ahead of the feeling that we’ve seen all this before. So far it’s too early to tell but with the talents involved and deeper themes at work it may just be more than a simple idea given life because of the selling power of Stan Lee’s name on the cover.

Lee has made a very impressive career out of “ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances” scenarios and Soldier Zero looks set to be another one. It’s not something we haven’t seen before, with even Mark Millar’s recent Superior just beating this book to the punch, with a wheelchair bound human becoming host to a powerful being, but the dialogue hear rings true and Trautmann’s doubt about his soldier’s past, coupled with the frustrations of his limited maneuverability and how the world sees him, should make for an interesting mix now that he has a powerful alien suit giving him all sorts of freedoms, and scary powers.

There’s a 6 page preview of the November launching The Traveler, another Stan Lee series by Mark Waid and Chad Hardin. It looks to be another simple tale (bad guy from the future chases a woman while a good guy shows up to protect her) but in Waid’s hands it could be as awesome as Irredeemable.

I’m surprised all 3 of these series are ongoing, I must say. I would’ve thought a mini-series would’ve been the safer bet, but then again, BOOM! (and Stan Lee of course) have a habit of surprising readers. Soldier Zero is a great place to get in on the ground floor of a new superhero series with an accessible feel and attractive art. If you’re sick of convoluted epics and want something more streamlined yet still entertaining, this isn’t a bad place to begin.

Dingo TPB Preview

On sale this Wednesday June 23 is a bunch of BOOM! goodies, including the latest issues of 7 Psycopaths and 28 Days Later, as well as more kid friendly material such as Disney’s Hero Squad: Ultraheroes and The Incredibles. Also available will be the Dingo TPB from the always reliable writer Michael Alan Nelson. Preview and official description below.

Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Drawn by Francesco Biagini
TPB, 120 pgs, FC, SRP: $16.99
Diamond Code: FEB100746
ISBN13: 9781608860197

The writer of HEXED and FALL OF CTHULHU brings you an all-new, all-nasty graphic novel! Dingo is man trying to get back something that was taken from him. A box. The contents of which will make Dingo stop at nothing to get it back. It’s a mystery that starts in Los Angeles and takes him to Vegas and beyond. Add in a very dangerous ex-wife, the biggest dog on the planet, and dark magic and you’ve got a recipe for disaster that’s a mix of pulp and urban fantasy. Don’t miss writer Michael Alan Nelson’s critical hit!

Hawks of Outremer #1 Review

Writer Robert E. Howard is most famous for creating Conan, but his tragic life also created a wealth of other characters and tales, some of which have also been adapted by Hollywood, such as Kull the Conqueror and the more recent Solomon Kane. Hawks of Outremer is one of those lesser known stories. Hawks is the name of a trilogy of tales centered on Cormac Fitzgeoffrey in the Third Crusade. The final was incomplete at the time of Howard’s suicide in 1936 and was eventually finished by writer Richard L. Tierney before being published in 1979. So, not the most auspicious character to begin a new comic with, but BOOM! present an intriguing tale here.

This is a world torn from history, with Irish Christian soldier Fitzgeoffrey doing the kind of work that hairy warriors do best – seeking vengeance and wreaking havoc. The issue opens with Cormac visiting a rowdy tavern near Turkey in 1190 A.D. where he proves that the rumours of his death in battle are merely that. After a catch up with a fellow Crusader, in which he tells the tale of his new sword and his undiplomatic meeting with King Richard while slaying some unbelievers, the adventure begins in earnest. Upon learning that Gerard, an old friend who once saved his life has been killed, Cormac becomes enraged and hunts for Baron Conrad, the man who denied Gerard aid, ready to give him what-for.

I was rather impressed by Hawks. Having not read Howard’s original tales, I’m unaware of how much adapting went into this issue from writer Michael Alan Nelson (who incidentally provides BOOM! with some of their best series, such as Hexed). However, the dialogue is boisterous and fantastic. Each page is littered with words that you just want to say aloud with manly gusto and a tankard of ale. Case in point – “I am no French she-knight to fear wading in the muck,” and “I name you liar, traitor and coward, dastard, poltroon and villain!” Awesome.

Nelson has grounded this in a subtle, yet believable world, devoid of Conan-like sorcery and has scattered characters that are eager to defend their faith or own self interests, and with Cormac in such a harsh environment of religion and politics, there’s room for many grand tales yet. Artist Damian Couceiro does a great job of keeping things real. With an approach similar to the fluid simplicity of Cary Nord (Dark Horse’s Conan series) he gives a rough hewn texture and weight to both people and places and fills the fighting scenes with just enough bloodshed as to not be over the top.

The ending of this debut issue is rather open, so where Cormac goes from here could be anyone’s guess, but I’m sure there’s probably a conspiracy of sorts to be unravelled and heads to be bashed or removed, in the remaining 3 issues. I’ll be there.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering Outremer refers to the states governed by the Christians after the Crusades, and the soldiers would be the Hawks. So there you go.

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