The New Deal Review

My once voracious comics reading habit has been decreasing in the last few months, especially in terms of superhero stuff. Now I look for my sequential art fix in non-spandex corners from publishers other than Marvel and DC and really, we are tremendously blessed in that regard. There’s so much diversity out there, such as the delightful new tale from writer/artist Jonathan Case (The Green River Killer, Bandette).

The New Deal is a wonderfully entertaining 96 page OGN from Dark Horse Comics. It’s available now, and you should grab it.

Opens with bustling city streets of New York in 1936 and the setting doesn’t stray too far from the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Despite that lack of variety, Chase creates an intriguing drama filled with rich characters. It almost has the feel of an old-timey radio play or something from the ouvre of Agatha Christie or Alfred Hitchcock, but without the piling up of bodies.

Bellhop Frank O’Malley is the star, but he has some competition from the characters whose lives he orbits. His friendly demenaour soon crumbles when he realises a loan shark who he’s indebted to is now staying at his hotel, and with the arrival of the elegant and oh-so-confident Nina Booth, his world changes. Frank’s burgeoning friendship with Theresa, a new cleaner who moonlights as a theatre actress (for Orson Welles’ Macbeth, no less) is filled with spot on rapport. Chase gives Frank a slightly more exaggerated approach to his facial expressions, which coupled with his harried and hopeful dialogue inform the character as an eager to please, somewhat flighty man who wants more from life than serving ungrateful, rich hotel guests.

Every page here is filled with elegant lines and clean expressions, befitting the classiness of the Waldorf Astoria of the era. Expressions are animated yet realistic, which is difficult to achieve but Case gives Kevin Maguire a run for his money. It’s more than just spot on expressions though, that sell a character and with a complex tale like this one, the story demands more. Case brings all the players in at the right time and the right way to give them a memorable impact to the narrative, as well as making the reader curious as to how they’ll all fit in to the larger story being told.

One flick through the pages or the online preview and you’ll soon realise that The New Deal is a beautiful, beautiful book. It’s obvious Chase has thought about how to fill every space. There’s no blank backgrounds here. Every page has a superb sense of design and space; snowy streetscapes, sunlight pouring through windows. Its black and white setting reminds me of a mix between Frank Miller’s Sin City stark atmospherics but with something akin to Lee Week’s clean approach, but really, it’s in a world of its own, and he uses silent panels and pages to great effect. It’s one of those books that you’ll want to look at more than once just to admire the craftmasnship on display.

It’s rare to see something like this in the world of comics. It’s so…real and refined. Chase could easily have turned this in to a melodramatic and unapproachable period piece, or an obvious jokefest with zany characters and hijinks, but his restraint and minimalism is admirable. The plot involves a Seinfeldesque combination of a missing dog collar, the opening of a new museum exhibit, a mysteriously covered birdcage and the wonderful characters who hold their own surprises. The plot and prettiness work wonderfully in tandem to create a surprisingly enchanting story.

The New Deal Cover

The New Deal p7

Read a preview here.

Blackout #1 Preview

Releasing on March 26 is the debut issue of Blackout from Dark Horse Comics. Here’s a sci-fi-tastic preview.

Blackout1

Furious #2 Review

Furious 2 CvrThe latest instalment from Mice Templar creators Bryan J.L. Glass, and Victor Santos hits shelves, and it hits hard. Those who read last month’s debut will be aware that this new mini-series about the melding of fame and superpowers is a mature take on superheroics, and this issue dials it up even more.

The first two pages here serve as a strong indication of what’s coming. With Furious, the world’s first super-hero questioned and praised at every turn, something’s got to give.

Here, we get a greater look at Furious’ past from a survivor of a family tragedy to a rising child star to an unexpected superhero. Throughout those stages of her life however, the bitterness and anger remain, and the unexpected superpowers don’t erase them.

As for those superpowers, there is a lot we don’t know about them. There is an almost dismissive mention of the titular hero waking up on the ceiling upon discovering her abilities, and using kinetic energy, but the focus is on the characters, not the origin, and that’s a smart move. Or, rather the focus is on the character, that being Cadence Lark, the alter ego of Furious. It’s interesting to note that we never see Cadence in her civilian guise, apart from the flashbacks. Perhaps Cadence is finding comfort in the colours of a skintight costume as Furious, (or Beacon as he prefers to be called, but never is). Maybe it’s a coping mechanism of Cadence’s traumatic past, or maybe she sees the life of a superhero as just another role to play. It’s testament to Glass’ strengths as a storyteller that this series can be examined and enjoyed from more than one angle. Furious has noble intentions, and certainly makes strides towards peace in her community, but she is a controversial figure; equally declared as awesome or dangerous, and with the local trigger happy police, she begins to comprehend the scope of her powers.

Santos’ art is not filled with beauty. That’s not to say it isn’t pretty to look at. It is, but rather than reveal the glitz and glamour of the high life of the young Cadence as a film star, he chooses to match the darkness and ugliness of what that life can bring, matching Glass’ thematic explorations. The flashbacks of Cadence’s youth, as she struggles with losing the entirety of her family besides her increasingly erratic father, are sad, dark and real. Cadence becomes a sympathetic character during those looks at her past, and the familiar struggles we’ve seen before with many immature celebrities are brought to the fore. Using broken mirrors as a framing device is clever, as is using the same pose with a mysterious new threat that we saw on Furious’ debut. It appears this dangerous, costumed woman has something personal against Furious and is about to make her mark on her world. Up until this point, Furious’ greatest enemy has been herself, or rather how she is perceived, so an external threat will bring the story to dangerous new places.

Glass and Santos are building a mystery with Furious, and it’s an intriguing one. They’ve been throwing crumbs since the first issue, with more surprises surely to come.

Ace Cop: American Choppers

No, it’s not a crazy tie-in with that reality TV show about a family of motorcycle builders.

AXE COP RETURNS WITH AMERICAN CHOPPERS!

Critically Acclaimed Nicolle Brothers Deliver Killer Miniseries!

Fresh off their television debut on FOX’s Animation Domination High-Def, Ethan and Malachai Nicolle return with a three-part miniseries chock full of action in Axe Cop: American Choppers!

Axe Cop is comics taken straight back to their source — to a child’s unharnessed imagination. And there’s also axes.” said Axe Cop voice actor Patton Oswalt.

President of the World Axe Cop reunites with Super Axe (an old friend from college), and the two decide to start a superteam of axe-wielding heroes to defend America—the American Choppers. They are joined by Captain Axe, Axe Girl, Axe Woman, Axe Dog, and other axe-wielding heroes. The only problem is that there are no bad guys left, but that all changes when mysterious giant creatures attack the city!

Praise for Axe Cop:

“The brilliance is precisely a function of its incongruity.”

Pop Matters

Axe Cop emerges as a wacked-out, irreverent hoot, full of colorful absurdities.”

Variety

“It’s a nonsensical but inventive and purely entertaining takeoff on superhero tales.”—New York Times

“So engaging that you can’t help but read this book all in one sitting.”

—IGN

Watch episodes of Axe Cop on Animation Domination High-Def!

Axe Cop: American Choppers #1 debuts May 21 in comic shops everywhere! Catch up with Axe Cop Volumes 1–5!

Malachai Nicolle was a five year old kid when he and his brother created Axe Cop together.  He is from rural Washington and he loves Dinosaurs, Ben 10, video games of all kinds, and anything involving bad guys getting destroyed.

Ethan Nicolle is 29 years old when he created Axe Cop with his brother.  He is a comic artist/writer living in Los Angeles. He is the writer/artist/creator of the Eisner Award nominated Chumble Spuzz (SLG Publishing). He currently has a couple of shows optioned at Cartoon Network and is working on the Axe Cop TV show at FOX ADHD, as well as his other web comic, Bearmageddon.

AxeCopAmericanChoppers

AXECOPAC #1 PG 05

Buffy Season 10 #1 Preview

Buffy’s back in the official continuation of the much-loved TV series. The first issue of the new season goes on sale on March 19.

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Free Eve: True Stories Comic

Free comics! Based on actual player driven stories from the huge EVE game, EVE: True Stories is certainly a novel concept, and now you can read the first issue for free.

Issue #1 of CCP Game’s Anticipated EVE: True Stories Graphic Novel

Available Now for Free Download via Dark Horse Digital 

CCP Games, the world’s leading independent developer of massively multiplayer games and creators of EVE Online, along with Dark Horse, are pleased to announce that the first issue of EVE: True Stories, “Thieves Among Us,” is now available as a free download from Dark Horse Digital or via the Dark Horse Android and iOS apps.

Issue #1 of the EVE: True Stories graphic novel dramatizes the opening throes of one of the greatest gaming stories of the last decade – the fall of the player alliance known as the Band of Brothers. Filled with action and intrigue, “Thieves Among Us” is inspired by actual player-driven events. Issue #1 is written by legendary writer Daniel Way (Wolverine: OriginsDeadpool) and features the artwork of Tomm Coker (Daredevil NoirNear Death) with cover art by David Palumbo (ALIENS, Heavy Metal). 

Future instalments of EVE: True Stories will arrive digitally on 5th March, 19thMarch and 2nd April 2014, via Dark Horse Digital.

The hardback prestige collected edition of EVE: True Stories, containing all four comics, will go on sale in book and comic book stores, 4th June, 2014. 

EVE TRUE STORIES 1

 

Dark Horse on YALSA List

What’s YALSA? A youth-targeted salsa? Nope. It’s the Young Adult Library Services Association. Every year they release their best comics list, as do lots of other sites and organisations. I’ve only read The Massive Volume 1 and Hellboy: Midnight Circus, but both are fantastic.

DARK HORSE TAKES HOME SIX

SPOTS ON THE 2014 YALSA

GREAT GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS LIST!

Last week, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) committee published their much-anticipated 2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, adding, for the first time, a top-ten list. Not surprisingly, given the tremendous success of Dark Horse’s 2013 publishing line, the publisher landed six titles on this year’s list, with two making it into the top tenThe Adventures of Superhero Girl and MIND MGMT!

This year’s Dark Horse selections are as follows:

“Dark Horse has always considered librarians to be essential to the cause of bringing graphic novels to a broader audience, just as we feel visionary writers and artists push the boundaries of the medium,” said Dark Horse’s VP of book trade sales, Michael Martens. “With the selections of these titles to the 2014 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, the boundaries will be pushed and the audience broadened! Thanks to both YALSA and our authors for making this happen!”

Dark Horse congratulates the editors, writers, and artists who worked on each of the above titles, and thanks the Young Adult Library Services Association for recognizing these works!

The Massive TPB

 

Hellboy- The Midnight Circus

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