This Week’s Winners

Time for three quick reviews, although this first one came out last week.

X-O Manowar #1. Valiant was one of a few publishers that launched in the 90s and Naughties but didn’t last. Now, they’re back, with this title as the first off the rank, and familiar series Harbinger, Bloodshot, and Archer & Armstrong on the way in the coming months. Firstly, I’m not aware of Valiant’s past work, so the nostalgia appeal has no sway with me, but I picked this debut up thanks to its creators. Robert Venditti wrote the excellent The Surrogates, and The Homeland Directive. Artist Cary Nord has done great work on Conan recently for Dark Horse.

The idea behind X-O Manowar is a good one, and is deeper than “man in hi-tech suit goes on adventures.” This is more than Iron Man-lite. The main difference is the man under the armour. He’s a barbarian from 402 A.D. That’s a nice touch. We open with a battle between the huge Roman army and the unprepared Visigoths. Aric is a heroic blonde Visigoth who is up to the challenge of taking on the invaders and rallies the army with a Braveheart-like speech. Amidst the bloody battle, some aliens descend and genetically tamper with the villager’s babies, and take Aric and his mates prisoner aboard their space heading vessel. While there Aric sees a bizarre ritual which will lead nicely to next month’s issue. There’s not much made of the humans’ reaction to all the sci-fi around them, but the collision of these two cultures is an intriguing concept. We don’t even see Aric become X-O which is another good choice, as Venditti allows us to care about the man before he becomes the hero.

Nord’s art is great, although not as detailed as his Conan work, but his pencils on the battles in the first half are splendid.

See a 6 page preview of this issue right here.

Avenging Spider-Man #7. This is the first issue I’ve picked up of this new Spider-Man team-up series since the debut, and again, it’s due to the creators, writer Kathryn Immonen, and artist Stuart Immonen. This series is a more accessible, light-hearted approach that features Spidey going on adventures with different superheroes of the Marvel Universe. It’s a great intro to the bigness of Marvel’s roster of characters, much like Batman: Brave and the Bold is to the DC Comics Universe. This issue has a nifty recap page that tells you the basic about Spidey, this issue’s guest star She-Hulk, and umm…cats, because cats are important in this tail, umm…tale.

The story centres on Hulk’s cousin and the Webslinger fighting a big fishy creature in a sewer and then going to a museum where the Egyptian goddess Bastet shows up and things go nuts. The Immonen’s work very well together, with Kathryn’s script showing Spidey’s casual approach to crimefighting, and She-Hulk’s exasperation at the same, and Stuart’s kinetic visuals, including the fact that she’s taller than him is a great touch.

See a preview of this issue right here.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1. Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson know horror and show it here in this premiere of the IDW mini-series. Under the cardstock cover are many awesome black and white pages brimming with moody, eerie and creepy darkness and danger. This is a sequel to Mary Shelley’s original novel and looks at what happened to Frankenstein’s monster after the events of the classic book that introduced him to the world. Here, he is an a attraction in a freak show, finding some sort of life, and family at the circus, although the bulk of the issue is an origin tale of sorts as the monster talks to the ghost of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Also included is a chat between the creators about their experiences with old Frankenstein movies, and a few letters that Mary Shelley’s brother Robert wrote to her.

Niles gets the voice of the time period well, and the monster’s inner dialogue is deeper than his few words of grumbling dialogue, and of course it looks well, especially in the rich black and white, with all the vast icy landscapes.

See a preview of this issue right here.

Ninja Turtles Are Back-With IDW

Good news Turtles fans! Official details from IDW about their new series below, and here’s an insightful interview with co-writer Tom Waltz.

IDW Publishing and Nickelodeon today announced that the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series, featuring the beloved “Heroes in a Half-shell,” will premiere in August 2011. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be back in action and ready to fight off evil once again, with an impressive creative team led by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman!

Starting in August, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will kick off with a brand new installment of the original series, led by Eastman and co-writer Tom Waltz (Silent Hill: Past Life, Infestation: Outbreak). Phenomenal new-comer Dan Duncan will bring the Turtles to life with dynamic interior art, while Sam Kieth and Walter Simonson provide eye-catching covers for issues one and two, respectively. Eastman will also provide layouts for Duncan‘s art, as well as variant covers.

This first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will feature new and exciting storylines that maintain the “turtle power” core beloved by millions of fans. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael reunite to bring their ninja aptitude and teenage attitude in these all-new, action-packed adventures based on the original series. The first story arc will tell the origin story of the Turtles and introduce a new villain, the fearsome mutant alley cat, Old Hob. Featuring a cast of familiar characters, including Master Splinter, April O’Neill, Casey Jones, and true to the spirit of the original comics created by Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are bigger and badder than ever, and ready to rock old and new fans alike.

IDW and Nickelodeon have a long-term partnership to offer an all-new installment of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and graphic novels. IDW’s new comics are part of a larger initiative to bring Turtles to a new generation of fans, starting with these new storylines from the original series that recapture the magic of the original Turtles comics. Additionally, in fourth quarter 2012, Nickelodeon will premiere a new CG-animated version of the wildly popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

Andy Schmidt Interview

Editor, writer Andy Schmidt and I had a virtual discussion about his intriguing new series for IDW Publishing, G.I. Joe: Future Noir. It’s a bold take on the characters and the first issue (of 2) of the black and white tale is out right now. Check out the interview at Broken Frontier here.

Death and the Frenemy’s Claw

Here’s a quick look at some new indie series.

Death Ship from IDW is a 4 issue mini-series based on an untold story from Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. Behind Cliff Nielsen’s spooky cover I was pleasantly surprised to some equally moody art. Being printed on slightly rougher paper, with muted colours by Dom Regan, means that Death Ship will carry you to its 1897 setting with ease. Stuart Sayger’s artwork is like a more refined Bill Sienkiewicz or Klaus Janson. His work is suitably sketchy, yet equally enchanting and fits beautifully within the old world setting, which is filled with tough as nails sailors with manly beards. Sayger knows when to fill the pages with simplicity, which adds great tension to Gary Gerani’s script. The first few pages initially seem like a bland tale of sailors vs the sea; the kind of film you catch in black and white on a lazy Sunday arvo on TV, but it soon reveals itself to be something more, as a sinister force lurks about their vessel. There’s a boy, a tough veteran, a wise captain and a scared priest, but it all works well, plus the art is awesome. I’m thankful for comic moments like this, when I pick something by blind faith and it proves to be better than expected.

The Claw and the Fang. This new series has great covers, and that’s what intrigued me. That, plus the preview art looked unusual – in a good way. Bluewater Productions have become known as of late for their bio comics on stars of the moment, but that’s not all that they produce. This issue begins with Justin, a hardcore gamer losing his job before crossing to Outer Mongolia where a witch summons a huge, hooded demon to serve her. From then on it moves quickly, as Justin gets fed up with the MMORPG he’s invested his life in, and the supernatural world and his dull existence collide. There’s a slight awkwardness, as this hurriedly takes place and it would’ve benefitted from an extra few pages, but this debut ish has laid enough seeds to hopefully bear fruit in the remaining issues. Michael Kutcher’s script is filled with great captions that carry the tale without revealing too much just yet, and Matias Basla’s angular art lends a refreshing design to the pages. The sparse use of colour is a great addition to the mainly earthen look too.

Frenemy of the State has its Hollywood tongue planted firmly in its cheek and is an unashamedly fun adventure. It’s written by actress Rashida Jones (The Office, Parks and Recreation), Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis and comes to us from Oni Press. Opening with a quick account of protagonist Ariana Von Holmberg’s life in the spotlight (via Twitter snapshots) as she attends an Alice in Wonderland theme party, we soon learn that she’s not just a dumb heiress, but a well educated woman. She also seems to know her way around hi-tech security systems, but with all those skills, she’s still not above seeking revenge on a cheating lover. The script is rather obvious from that point on, as she becomes a C.I.A recruit. The odd flashback transition comes from nowhere, when all that’s needed was a simple caption, but otherwise, the issue is fine. It’s not a remarkable debut, but the central concept leaves a lot of room for story possibilities. Jeff Wamester’s art is light, with a slight Kevin Nowlan approach and the simple feel adds to the bubbliness of the story. It’s not hilarious by any means, but fans of pop culture with an awareness of celebrity obsessed media will find this likeable enough.

Sam Kieth The Sketch Books Vol. 1 Review

I first became aware of Sam Kieth’s curious artistry when the animated series of his The Maxx comic was shown late at night on TV during my teens. I’ve followed him on and off ever since, most recently with his 2 issue Lobo: Highway to Hell series for DC. He’s also worked on The Sandman, as well as with Batman and Wolverine over the years. I guess he’s more known for the offbeat works that suit his unique sketchy style however, such as Epicurus the Sage and Zero Girl.

Unfortunately his website is inactive, so this attractive hard cover sampling of his work is a great place to start. IDW do have it in them to make well presented, stylish art books like this, as their Sparrow series of books (the latest one is centred on artist/designer Pushead) and their handsome tome covering the first decade of their own publishing history prove.  Their quirky series such as ZVR Aventure (no, that’s not a spelling mistake) show that the decision makers behind IDW are indeed brave enough to produce non-standard comics. So, a book on Sam Kieth then seems like a logical step. Whether this is part of a series as the Vol. 1 subtitle indicates remains to be seen, but if so, it’s off to a good start.

Sure, it’s only 48 pages, but the oversized format and replications of Kieth’s sketchbook, (with dirt, scribbles, and all) works well. One look at Kieth’s artwork is all you’ll need to know if you’re a fan. There’s much diversity in these pages, and some minor comments from Kieth on the odd page. There’s a few pages dedicated to fashion, some to Japanese inspiration and several visual ideas on a film called Four Women he was once going to direct.

The different media used include paint, watercolours and pen and ink. Busy pages are sandwiched by superb examples of minimalist landscapes and flowing lines. This is $10, sure, but it’s a book you’ll certainly look at more than once.

The Rocketeer Returns

Official press release below regarding a great collection of The Rocketeer’s adventures, from the late, great writer/artist Dave Stevens. If you like the film, you can see where it came from.

The RocketeerIDW Publishing is proud to announce the upcoming release of The Complete Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, collecting the classic series in its entirety for the first time ever.

After more than a decade out of print, The Rocketeer makes a triumphant return to stores this October with a comprehensive hardcover edition featuring artwork digitally re-mastered from Stevens’ own lovingly maintained collection of originals, and all-new coloring by Laura Martin, the Eisner-Award-winning colorist handpicked by Stevens himself.

The Rocketeer, a rollicking tribute to pulp novels and Saturday morning matinee serials, follows the high-flying adventures of stunt pilot Cliff Secord and his girlfriend Betty, after Cliff finds a mysterious jet pack and takes to the sky. The graphic novel went on to become a much-loved major motion picture directed by Joe Johnston.

In addition to the mass-market hardcover, a very special deluxe edition is planned. Presented in a larger format, the deluxe edition will be filled with behind-the-scenes material, a treasure of additional pages featuring previously unpublished Rocketeer designs, preliminaries, and sketches by Dave Stevens, many taken from his personal sketchbooks.

“It is an honor to work on The Rocketeer,” said IDW Special Projects editor Scott Dunbier, “I’ve been a fan of Dave Stevens and The Rocketeer since I first read it in the early 80s. It was a dream of Dave’s to see his creation return to the shelves in a complete collection. We are dedicated to making this the definitive edition, a book Dave would have been proud of.” This October The Rocketeer will fly once more.

Street Fighting Aliens

After my review of IDW’s Groom Lake #1 I interviewed the creators of the amusing UFO-centric series, Chris Ryall and Ben Templesmith over at Broken Frontier. I also just reviewed Street Fighter IV #1 from Udon at Extra Sequential. It’s about what I expected. Not a lot of depth, story-wise, but it looks great (as you can see below). Fans of the just released game should definitely pick it up.

Street Fighter IV #1

sfiv01_pg01

sfiv01_pg02

IDW’s PDFs

I interviewed Eric Reichert for the first issue of Extra Sequential, regarding Eagle One Media’snew Street Fighter animated comics. Now, IDW is wisely getting in on the action and making some of their impressive titles available as downloadable PDFs through the company. Official press release below.

IDW Publishing, known for its wide array of comic books and graphic novels, has partnered with Eagle One Media to start a comprehensive backlist on the Web. Featuring a range of books from the Eisner-nominated artist and co-creator of 30 Days of Night, Ben Templesmith, to the Presidential Material: Barack Obama and McCain comics, to work by acclaimed artist Ashley Wood, each title will be available for download as a PDF for a minimal $1.99 fee.

250_gomtpbEagle One Media’s President, Eric Reichert, is excited about this new relationship. “Being able to work in partnership with IDW to make a significant number of their comics available for download to fans worldwide is a great opportunity for us. We’ve simplified the process so that comic fans can easily and quickly download complete PDF-style issues to their computer. They can also print the issues and save them to more than one computer if needed.

“Plus, with a sales price below the printed books, we give fans the opportunity to discover and try out comics which they may not have had access to in the past, in an innovative format. IDW joins our growing list of publishers who have made their comics and graphic novels available in our retail download store at: http://www.eagleonemedia.com.”

Chris Ryall, IDW’s Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, added “I love seeing our comics expand into areas that allow readers to sample books that are new or unfamiliar to them. Eagle One’s formatting is clean, quick, and easy for anyone who wants to read comics on their computer, and when you consider that you can download an entire issue of the 72-page Doomed magazine for $2, a great value, too.”

This pairing ushers in a brand-new platform for fans to enjoy IDW’s extensive backlist, with titles to appeal to a wide array of fans. Currently available for download are Blood-Stained Sword, Cobb, CVO, D’Airain Aventure, Doomed, Everybody’s Dead, Grumpy Old Monsters, Igor, Lore, Lost & Found, Pirat Tales, Presidential Material, ShadowPlay, Singularity 7, Snaked, and Zombies!: Feast. This already impressive backlist will be frequently updated at Eagleonemedia.com.

Groom Lake #1 Review

groomlake1a_sm

My latest review is up at Broken Frontier. It’s all about a unique four issue mini-series from IDW Publishing that centres on UFOs, government cover ups and all that craziness.

Written by Chris Ryall, with art by Perth lad done good, Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The first issue is released in March, but for people who find The X-Files too serious and Men In Black not gory enough, this is the book for you!

Check out my full review here.

Dinobots Debut From IDW

image0061Those loveable Dinobots were fan favourites in the Transformers cartoon in the 80s and hold a dear place in many Transfans’ hearts. Now, IDW, the current publisher of original Transformers comics, including tie-ins to the next live-action movie, are giving them the attention they deserve.

The first issue of Maximum Dinobots is a new-reader friendly 32 pager and will be released on December 10.Written by long-time Transformers scribe, Simon Furman, with art by Nick Roche, the series shows the Dinobots reunion and features the huge bad guy Scorponok, and two Autobots – namely, Hot Rod and Sunstreaker. Cool! That’s a lot of robots in disguise in one issue.

Clive Barker’s Thief of Always on Your iPhone

Here’s the official lowdown on one of the latest comics available for your purchase from iTunes for your funky mobile gizmo.

thief_1_titleUCLICK®, America’s #1 provider of comics on mobile phones, has added the graphic novel version of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always to its rapidly growing line of comic book titles optimized for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Like the children lured to Mister Hood’s Holiday House in the novel, once fans begin reading this engrossing tale, presented in vibrant color and rich detail on their iPhone screens, they too will find it impossible to leave.

Creator of the well-known horror films Hellraiser, Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions, and author of more than a dozen horror novels and short story collections, Clive Barker has long been considered a master of the horror genre. Barker originally published The Thief of Always in 1992 as a fable for young readers. The novel was serialized as a graphic novel in 2005 by IDW Publishing, with story adaptation by Kris Oprisko and art by Gabriel Hernandez. All three installments of The Thief of Always are now available on the iPhone App Store for only 99 cents each.

“We feel very fortunate to once again be working with IDW and now Clive Barker,” said Uclick CEO Douglas Edwards.  “Mr. Barker is a legend and literary genius. We are honored to bring his masterpiece to millions of fans on the iPhone through the Uclick graphic story player.”

“The Thief of Always graphic novel is based on one of Clive Barker’s most popular stories,” IDW’s CEO Ted Adams said. “We’re very excited that this critically acclaimed title is now available for readers to download on the iPhone through the App Store. This is a great new way for fans to experience some of the best work in comics.”

The Thief of Always is the tale of Harvey Swick, an average boy bored with school until he receives a visit from an otherworldly stranger. Mister Rictus invites Harvey to Mr. Hood’s Holiday House, a child’s paradise where, Rictus declares, Harvey will find everything his heart desires. The Holiday House proves to be all Rictus promised, but Harvey soon discovers that its pleasures come at a heavy price.

Uclick continues to add to its already diverse collection of popular graphic novels and webcomics available on the iPhone App Store. IDW Publishing’s adaptation of the beloved Clive Barker fable joins Jeff Smith’s Bone, the cosmic sci-fi superhero series GODLAND, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anthology series Tales of the TMNT, and webcomics Pibgorn and Basic Instructions.

To learn more about The Thief of Always and other iPhone releases from Uclick, visit the Uclick section in the App store.

Yo Joe!

I stand firm that the ’80s was the best decade ever. Best music. Best cartoons. Best toys. Best fashion. Um…yeah. The middle of the decade was the high time for pre-pubescent dreams in the form of Robots in Disguise, Masters of the Universe and Real American Heroes. Now there’s a resurgence. The Transformers film did rather well at the box office, and while we wait for He-Man and Thundercats, we get the live action G.I Joe movie hitting screens next year. Now’s the time to familiarise yourself with these great characters at IDW. The Joes have been the hot potato of comic franchises, and have had homes at Marvel, Dark Horse and Devil’s Due. Well, here’s my interview with Andy Schmidt, the editor at IDW discussing the company’s bold publishing plan, which includes three different series and legendary writer Larry Hama. Cool.

gijoe1_dellotto

IDW Film Prequels Galore

terminator_color_rungeIDW has some impressive TV and film licences, including CSI, Angel, Ghost Whisperer and Doctor Who. Come Januray, they’ll also be launching three different mini-series that will effectively act as prequels to some of 2009’s biggest  films. They include January’s Terminator Salvation Movie Prequel #1 by Dara Naghi and Alex Robinson, and two different series for the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Movie Prequel. Alliance starts next month, with art by Alex Milne and Defiance begins in January, with art by Dan Khanna. Both series are written by Chris Mowry. Perhaps their most exciting movie prequel is the one tying into the new Star Trek film. Official press release below, as is the cover, and if you haven’t seen the fantastic new trailer for the film, beam down here.

IDW Publishing has joined with Paramount Pictures, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, Kurtzman/Orci Productions and CBS Consumer Products to publish a four-issue limited comic book series tied to next summer’s new Star Trek movie, which will be released in theaters on May 8, 2009.

The first comic in the series, Star Trek: Countdown #1, will be released in January 2009 to the comic book direct market. The story is presented by Abrams and plotted by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. It is written by Mike Johnson (Superman/Batman) and Tim Jones, and features stunning art by David Messina (Star Trek: Mirror Images). Messina also provides covers for the series.

“There was a lot of back and forth about doing this project, how to do it, what it would be about, but what all parties agreed on was that we needed the right story and that it needed to matter. It had to count both on its own merits and when read in conjunction with the new movie,” said series editor Andy Schmidt. “I couldn’t be happier with the project and what it means to the overall Star Trek franchise!”

“Star Trek: Countdown lays the groundwork for what happens in the movie,” said Roberto Orci. “It’s our way of passing the baton from the Next Generation characters and their movies to the new film.” Star Trek: Countdown is sure to be in huge demand as eager fans look for a sneak peak into director J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek vision! Star Trek: Countdown #1 (Diamond item code NOV08 4113), a 32-page, $3.99 comic, premieres in January 2009.

image006

All Hail Megatron # 1-2 Review

Humans used to just be an afterthought in the Transformers cartoon back in the day, (The day was at some point in the 1980s) but now every screen incarnation and especially the latest toon re-imagining, feels compelled to throw in a few annoying kid sidekicks to keep the youngens happy, but it annoys us jaded Generation 1 lovers, or maybe just me.

Well, IDW’s latest series happily swings things in the ‘bots favour, thanks to writer Shane Mc Carthy and artist Guido Guidi. It begins with the Constructicons tearing up New York, and loving every minute of it, with a smashing (literally) arrival of Megatron who shows the Decepticons how it’s really done. It’s a great intro to this 12 ish series, and I could even hear the characters voices in my head, like I was 12 years old again, sitting in front of the TV on a Saturday morning.
Then the US Army try their noble best, but against transforming fighter planes, their efforts are brave, but futile. The last two pages are silently set on Cybertron as the Autobots try in vain to revive their fallen leader, Optimus Prime.
The second issue begins with a name familiar to Trans Fans – Witwicky, a Colonel in fact, who gets interrupted at a party and brought up to speed about the Decepticons destruction. Meanwhile Andy Reid, a survivor from issue one’s counter attack is doing his best to dodge a “large mechanical dog,” ie, Ravage and save bystanders while doing so. There are a lot more humans, and talking, in the second issue, but there’s also Soundwave (yes!), a surprisingly frightening attack from that manic cassette tape, Frenzy and finally, an attack from Devastator, the united Constructicons behemoth. There’s nary an Autobot to be seen here, which is fitting considering the title, but one would assume the robo-heroes would show up soon, as the humans resistance is looking limp.

As a non regular TF reader, I can’t say where this fits into the TF universe, but apparently it does slot into to current IDW continuity. This is a great series for newbies though, and old Gen Xers like me. It’s action packed, well paced and creatively written. Guidi is an unusual artistic choice, but it works. His pencils are the antithesis of the standard manga inspired fare, replete with the minute technical details that often accompany Hasbro’s most famous franchise. Guidi’s pencils are rougher and he manages to convey the erratic nature of battle well, while still creating an epic scope, especially in Megatron’s arrival and Devastator’s construction.
IDW obviously believe in this series, with a combined total of 8 variant covers for these first 2 issues alone. They’re also releasing it when they already have 5 other Transformers related books currently available. With as many fans as there are out there of the old school Robots in Disguise, from IDW’s point of view, it’s a safe bet though. And they’d be right.

  • Calendar

    • October 2020
      M T W T F S S
       1234
      567891011
      12131415161718
      19202122232425
      262728293031  
  • Search