Image Month at Broken Frontier

To celebrate Image Comics’ 20th anniversary comics site Broken Frontier has launched Image Month, which is exactly as it sounds. There will be reviews of classic issues, interviews with creators and more. Check it out here and you can also read two of my reviews of recent Image releases, Whispers #2, which is awesome, and Hell Yeah #2.

While you’re there, check out my review of the new one-shot from Dak Horse Comics starring monster hunter Cal McDonald, and see a preview of the ish here.

Racing, Judging, Laughing And Chewing

Superman #709. I dropped the Superman monthly series last year when writer J. Michael Straczynski began the Grounded storyline, in which the Man of Steel walks across America. Yes it’s as boring and controversial as it sounds. Now that JMS has stepped back to focus on the sequel to the popular OGN Superman: Earth One, other writers have been taking over with his notes, and thankfully elevated the action and interest and all but dropped the boring bits.

This issue, co-written by JMS and Chris Roberson, with art by the reliable Eddy Barrows is an entertaining tale. I’m still wary of dedicating myself to this title again, but it’s full of promise once more. Supes, after trying to get a hold of his wife Lois, runs into The Flash (Barry Allen), after seeing the town he’s in quickly become a historic Kryptonian area, while parts of Krypton’s past ring in his ear. The Man of Steel realises it’s the Scarlet Speedster at the centre of all this, and saves him by lifting a golden headband off his forehead. The Flash admits that the headband fell to earth and his curiosity got the better of him, and he was all pretty much mind controlled when he put it on. Superman reveals that it’s a Kryptonian artefact, the two heroes go to a diner for a superspeed chat, (all in a second or two, while a waitress falls, but they save her after their discussion of course) about their respective proteges and who runs faster, and the headband situation disappears. I don’t know if its origin will be revisited in future issues, but this is a good story even without it.

There’s a flashback to a young Clark and Lex Luthor in detention (Clark was there for skipping school to save a burning town and Lex was there for stealing 40 cakes. Um…yeah, but it must be a reference to this classic kids’ book). That scene is unnecessary really, but at least it has one of those Superman quotes I’ve never forgotten, as spoken by Pa Kent – “There is right and wrong in this universe and the distinction isn’t hard to make.” I can’t recall when I first read that quote in a Superman comic, but it summarises what the Man of Steel is all about.

This was always going to be an ish with controversy, as Supes and Flash race (kind of) and it had so much that The Source, DC’s official blog had to disallow all comments from now on to try and stop the hate! Fanboys are passionate about such superhero matters.

Batman #708. Taking over from writer/artist Tony Daniel, David Hine and Guillem March do their thing in this 3 part tale that crosses over with Red Robin #22, before finishing in next month’s Batman.  Titled Judgement on Gotham, it has ex-cop Michael Lane, who’s the new Azrael calm down his new protégé Crusader, who has no nose, a scarred face and a knack for shouting Biblical passages. The third Robin Tim Drake, (Red Robin) and Catwoman showing up to help Dick Grayson (the new Batman) confront the zealot, and save some civilians who he almost purged with fire. With Dick Grayson suffering from side effects from Azrael’s burning sword in a previous ish, he sees false memories about childhood beatings, and gets fed up with the judgmental stance of Azrael and Crusader. It seems like this is a turning point in the relationship with the Bat family and the concept of Azrael as a righteous warrior.

March’s work has always dazzled me. I first saw it in Gotham City Sirens and I’ll grab anything that he’s involved with. More wispy and elongated than most superhero comics, March infuses his pages with the kind of dramatic emotion that Neal Adams can do so well, but with a P. Craig Russell-like sense of design. There’s a delicate approach when needed combined with a great sense of urgency and movement in the action scenes.

Iceman and Angel #1. This was such a fun read, which is no surprise really, as it’s written by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger, who also put his comedic spin recently on Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet mini for Marvel. I’d like to spoil the jokes but I won’t as it’s so much fun to discover. Set in the First Class days of the X-Men, it has Iceman and Angel going on a holiday before a naked monster shows up looking for his son. Who’s in college. Hijinks, and great dialogue follow. Clevinger proves that superheroes don’t have to be all serious all the time and Juan Doe’s art is breezy and cool. Get this one-shot. It’s a refreshing change of pace from spandex melodrama and since it’s a done-in-one tale, it’s perfect for superhero newbies too. It has the best Namor cameo ever and some truly funny zingers.

Chew Script Book. Exactly what it says, but rather disappointing. It offers the entire script from the first issue and some sketches and that’s it. No insight into the origins of this hit Image series, no look at the initial proposal, just a script with a few pics thrown in. Grab this only if you’re a Chew completitst, or have no idea what a comic script should look like.

Then again, I’m neither and I bought this.

The Intrepids From Image

Looks like Image Comics has another intriguing creation on their hands. By the cover and description, it reminds me of a fun, modern Doom Patrol or rather, The Losers. Neato. Plus, I prefer the new title for this series.

The Intrepids is a 6 ish mini and you can check out a great preview of the debut issue, plus an honest offering of the genesis of the project at the official site.

MAD SCIENTISTS ARE A GIRL’S WORST ENEMY

New Title The Intrepids Arrives in March

Mad scientists are a disease and this March, fans will meet the cure: THE INTREPIDS! Image Comics continues to promote the best new talent by introducing this six-issue miniseries by the up and coming creative team of writer Kurtis Wiebe and artist Scott Kowalchuk.

THE INTREPIDS are a collection of runaway homeless teenagers that have been taken in and cared for by an aging inventor named Dante. Applying his brilliance, he crafts marvelous technological contraptions and with his vision and help, the motley crew he has assembled agree to use his gadgets for the betterment of mankind. Together, they combat tyranny and stop madmen from bringing harm to the world!

“THE INTREPIDS is a James Bond-style action-adventure that takes mad science to new heights. It’ll be wild, it’ll be action packed and it’ll have sexy dames with rocket packs!” says Wiebe. “It’s really our best case scenario to be publishing this book with Image. They’ve been producing some of the most engaging work in comics.”

“Kurtis and I have had a lot of fun developing this book,” adds Kowalchuk. “That fun will shine through. We’re extremely proud of the series, and we hope the fans will have as good a time with it as we do!”

Originally announced with the title of RAT BASTARDS, THE INTREPIDS reverted to the series’ original name to avoid a trademark conflict with a previously published title.

THE INTREPIDS #1 (JAN110555), a 24-page full-color comic book for $2.99, will be in stores on March 2, 2011. Meet the INTREPIDS at www.theintrepids.com.

Who Is Jake Ellis Launches In January

One of my fave mini-series this year has been The Light from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Brett Weldele. Edmondson is definitely a writer on the rise, proving that his comics debut Olympus was no fluke. His next series hits shelves next year. I’m so there. Official details below.
Writer Nathan Edmondson made people afraid to look into the light with THE LIGHT, a sell-out five-issue miniseries drawn by Brett Weldele (The Surrogates). Now, he brings new life to the spy genre with WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?, an all-new series from Image Comics.
The first issue of JAKE ELLIS will be in stores in January 2011. Tonci Zonjic (POPGUN, The Immortal Iron Fist, Daredevil) joins Edmondson on the book, producing action-packed art and covers for the series.
“Tonci and I are bringing the idea of psychological thriller to a whole new arena,” says Edmondson. “One part mystery, one part friendship, one part James Bond and Jason Bourne lovechild, and one other part sci-fi spy. You’ll be asking yourself the whole ride through — just who is Jake Ellis?”
Jon Moore is the most sought after spy-for-hire in Europe’s criminal world. This is because of Jake Ellis, a man who is invisible to everyone except Moore. When a deal goes bad, the only one who can protect Moore from Europe’s most dangerous criminals is Jake Ellis. No one but Moore can see Jake Ellis. But Jake Ellis can see everything.
WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? #1 (NOV100403), a 32-page, full-color comic book from Image Comics, will be in stores January 5, 2011, for $2.99. THE LIGHT VOL. 1 TP (OCT100471), a 140-page full-color graphic novel for $16.99, will be in stores December 15, 2010.
For the latest updates, follow Nathan Edmondson on Twitter, www.twitter.com/nhedmondson, and check out the Jake Ellis website at www.whoisjakeellis.com.

Entry Level: October 2010

Hit the ground floor running with this selection covering a mass of genres for the discerning reader. If you’re tired of convoluted epics that make no sense to the newbie, these books will give you a good place to start, or add to, your graphic habit, whether they be the first issue of a new series, or a collection worthy of that lonely coffee table. Here’s a list of some of October’s best.

GUY RITCHIE’S GAMEKEEPER

Dynamite Entertainment

256 pages of vengeance from the short-lived Virgin Comics, given a new audience thanks to Dynamite. This omnibus collects both volumes of the action packed story, as Brock foregoes the quiet life he’s known and puts murder in his sights once more. Along with film director Ritchie, other creators such as Andy Diggle, Jeff Parker and Mukesh Singh fill the pages with tense drama and bloodshed. An awesome movie just begging to be made.

BRUCE WAYNE-THE ROAD HOME…

DC Comics

So, Batman was “killed” a while ago in the pages of Final Crisis, with original Robin as his current replacement. However Bruce Wayne has been working his way through the timestream to get back to modern day Gotham. This month sees 8 one-shots focused on how various characters react to Batman’s resurrection, including Red Robin, Oracle, Catwoman and the Outsiders. Also out this month is Batman: The Return from the great duo of Grant Morrison and David Finch, and the debut of the 6 issue Knight & Squire, focused on England’s answer to the Dynamic Duo.

GUERILLAS: VOLUME 1

Oni Press

Brahm Revel’s black and white tale of simian soldiers in Vietnam. Yep, you may be taken back just like Private John Clayton is in this collection of the original 4 ish mini.

EMITOWN

Image Comics

400 pages of two-colour diary sketches from Emi Lenox.  The challenge to draw her daily life, whatever that may encompass, has garnered the artist many fans. You can check out her work for yourself at her blog (www.emitown.blogspot.com) or in this first collection of her quirky, humorous work.

BLACK WIDOW: DEADLY ORIGIN

Marvel

This Trade Paper Back collects the 4 issue mini-series from writer Paul Cornell and artists Tom Raney and John Paul Leon (who handles the flashbacks). Guest starring Daredevil, Hawkeye, and Bucky Barnes as the new Captain America, Russian spy Natalia Romanova must investigate the Icepick Protocol and her own past to survive. If you liked the glimpse of the character in Iron Man 2, as played by Scarlett Johansson, this is the best place to discover more.

ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20

Drawn and Quarterly

This Hard Cover is the latest installment from Chris Ware’s acclaimed series. Titled Lint, this issue offers a Rusty Brown story, and also focuses on the tale of family man and C.E.O Jordan Wellington Lint. Bold and diverse story telling at its finest.

NORTH 40

DC Comics/Wildstorm

Effectively creepy writing from Aaron Williams and delicate, yet dazzling art from Fiona Staples from their 6 issue mini-series is gathered here. Residents of a small town discover the weird happenings and monstrous forces that are being awakened within their county. Despite the recent closure of Wildstorm, hopefully their remaining TPBs will come out as promised.

Nathan Edmondson Talks About The Light Ending

Over at Broken Frontier is my interview with writer Nathan Edmondson about his series The Light, which is one of my fave new series of the year. The 5th and final issue of the mini is out now from Image and the TPB comes out in December.

Light of the Meta Day

Traditionally the second issue of a new series drops dramatically in sales. I can testify to that. I have countless #1s sitting in boxes, and that’s because I always like to give a new series a chance. Occasionally a new series will tick the right boxes and I’ll follow it through. Lately, I’ve discovered 3 such series.

The Light, simply put is awesome. Nathan Edmondson (Olympus) and Brett Weldele (The Surrogates) are creating the best work of their careers. This 5 part mini-series from Image is just magnificent in its storytelling simplicity. The elevator pitch would be something along the lines of, “troubled father and daughter try to survive a mysterious virus within light sources that is brutally killing anyone who looks directly into…the light.” Each issue has been better than the last, and that’s a rarity within any new mini. Edmondson knows just how to throw the right story morsels at the reader, leaving them wanting more. In this 3rd ish (of 5) Coyle and his daughter Avery run into 2 armed brothers, who are filled with confidence and a cavalier attitude to the madness surrounding them, ie, people dropping dead and the safety of darkness. My first reaction was to expect some sort of disturbing backstabbing behaviour from the pair, but Edmondson presents them as a helpful duo (though that may change next issue). That and the startling transformation of some victims into walking torches, and the effect of the virus on local birdlife proves that The Light is far more than just a cool concept without any surprises. See a preview here and you can also grab the first 2 issues in one new, handy book.

Meta4 is another 5 ish mini from Image. From creator Ted McKeever it is enjoyably weird, like a David Lynch film. Trying to explain it after just one issue in easy to grasp terms is somewhat difficult, but I’m hooked already. His sketchy art style should appeal to fans of Sam Kieth and he uses black and white with the same skill that Frank Miller does in Sin City. McKeever also worked on 3 books for DC’s Elseworlds line that re-imagined Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman through the lens of classic German Expressionist films. Man, I gotta get my hands on those. Well, Meta4 (assumedly a reference to “metaphor” which descriptions of future issues indicates) centres on an amnesiac dressed as an astronaut  who wanders in to a petrol station, gets accosted by a grotesque hillbilly and then saved by a manly woman dressed as Santa, whose name is Gasolina. So weird, yes but strangely mesmerising too. McKeever could go anywhere from here, and his experiments with captions, and symbols as speech works a treat.

Daytripper from Vertigo is a 10 issue mini-series. If you like Demo, then this is for you. Created by Brazilian brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (who worked with Matt Fraction on Casanova), the series follows former obituary writer and novelist Bras de Oliva Domingos throughout his life at different ages. This issue he attempts to track down an old college friend who mysteriously vanished years ago. Like every issue in this series, it looks like a vibrant dream and is filled with unexpected emotion.

The Light #2 Review

Nathan Edmondson and Brett Weldele make for a formidable duo on this new mini-series from Image. The writer of Olympus and artist of The Surrogates really do work well together, and there is a brave story being told within these pages. Yes, this issue has been out for 2 weeks now, but in order to catch up you can read the entire first issue for free here and Edmondson’s commentary on the same issue here.

The “elevator pitch” is that there’s a mysterious infection making contact with anyone who looks into a light source, killing them instantly. In this mad panic are thrust bad dad Cole and his initially skeptical daughter Avery. It may appear to be an unpublished Stephen King story, but the creative duo behind the series make it their own. The first issue was a remarkably bold exercise in dramatic storytelling. The status quo was set up with great economy before father and daughter woke up to their dangerous new world. Here, the confusion and running continue. The cliffhanger from last issue is not resolved yet, but I know it will be before the remaining 3 issues hit shelves.

The scale is larger here, while still remaining the simple glimpses of humanity that give The Light its appeal. The first few pages reveal Avery and Cole on the run, or rather drive, and arguing about Avery’s mother, before almost being destroyed by an airplane seeking a desperate landing. This sequence is handled particularly well, in that it’s not directed like a scene from an action film, but with a subtlety that lends genuine surprise. After wondering what their next step is, the pair find an understandably shocked survivor who seems genuinely unaware of the catastrophe around her.

Edmondson’s great afterword focuses on heroism, whereas it focused on interconnectivity in the debut issue, and it’s those two elements that are at the core of this engaging series. Whenever we are offered a glimmer of hope, The Light snuffs it out with reckless abandon. It’s the kind of page turner that we don’t have enough of in today’s comics, and I can already see myself grabbing the TPB as well as the individual issues, so I can share it’s raw magic with others.

Edmondson reveals superb skills at pacing within this taut tale and Weldele’s sketchy yet enchanting art is the best of his career and a perfect fit for the story of the darkness within the light.

The Light #1 Review

On sale April 14 is this excellent debut from Image. Written by scribe on the rise, Nathan Edmondson (the equally excellent Olympus) and art by the always dependable Brett Weldele (The Surrogates) this is a hard to resist welcome to a new 5 issue mini-series. The Light is bookended with an excerpt from a poem by Alfred Noyes and an afterword by Edmondson in which he ruminates on the engulfing rise of technology and interconnectivity. As the characters in this issue discover, “there is no escape from it.”

Edmondson wisely reveals very little, and dramatically kicks things off straight away. It’s a daring choice, but also one that makes perfect sense. I can’t imagine anyone picking up this first issue who won’t want to see what happens in the months to come. This is a comic written with intelligence and restraint. There’s no time to take a breath and catch up on exposition here.

It begins with middle-aged welder Coyle losing his job. It’s not soon before you realise that this “hero” is also a wife beater and alcoholic, as he returns home to his daughter (who he’s raising with his mother’s help) who he wants to avoid and the next bottle that he wants to befriend. So, not your typical protagonist, but mere moments later Coyle must man up. He wakes up in the early hours to his neighbour running down the street screaming to not look into the light. We soon discover, with Coyle, that “the light” is not a particular orb of incandescence hovering in the sky, but a much more dangerous threat – all light.

Putting on his welding goggles, and waking his disbelieving (though not for long) daughter Avery, he blindfolds her and leads her through suburban streets of chaos as those that do indeed look into lamp posts and light bulbs spontaneously combust with some sort of electrical discharge. It’s a no hold barred introduction to a new story, and one with a hectic pace.

Weldele’s art is absolutely perfect for this. It fits into Edmondson’s tale wonderfully. His moody, subtle renderings and contrast of light and dark  put an extra urgency onto these pages. It’s hard to imagine anyone interpreting this unique concept with greater visual flair. For those who may have found his minimalist approach to sci-fi in The Surrogates jarring, you’ll be much more welcoming here, as he shows that even suburban streets can be creepy.

Whether this is a national, or global outbreak is yet to be seen. There are no answers here, only confusion and fear, which puts the reader right in the running shoes of the survivors. From what seemed like a concept almost too simple (“Light as a killer?” Really?”) The Light will quickly erase any doubts with its crisp storytelling and horror premise.

Aussie + Boomerang = Superhero

I used to love reading the X-Men titles in the early ’90s, as the team was so international. The different accents (Nightcrawler’s German, Colossus’ Russian, Rogues’ Southern,etc) were all handled superbly and it served to give the book a real global flavour. Image’s new Guardians of the Globe series looks to offer up more ethnicity, as the name suggests. Image sent sneaky teaser images last week, seemingly revealing who the new members of the super team would be, including Barack Obama and Harry Potter. Huh?! Of course, it was all a nice in-joke, referencing Marvel’s earlier teasers revealing their new Avengers team.

Now, the real Guardians are making their presence known. The latest one (after Outrun and Brit) is, a new character I believe, called Kaboomerang. With his”yeah mate,” quote and earthen colour scheme I assume he’s an Australian, and and Aboriginal. Now, as an Aussie myself I can say that yes, I say “mate,” and I have thrown a boomerang in my time, but really? The only other Australian character in mainstream comics I can think of is the (now deceased) member of Flash’s Rogues Gallery. Yep, Captain Boomerang, an overweight stereotype who threw boomerangs and wore a handkerchief around his neck.

Granted, Kaboomerang, by the ridiculously yet somehow cool name alone seems to be a tongue in cheek character created with a sense of humour. Thanks must also go to writer Robert Kirkman for putting an Aboriginal hero in a superhero team, as Gateway, the Aboriginal mutant who sometimes aided the X-Men hasn’t been seen in years.

It’s just a shame that overseas exposure of Australia seems to be limited to spandex wearers throwing curved hunting implements, and kangaroos of the caged or boxing variety.

Todd McFarlane on Broken Frontier

The famous creator of Spawn and writer/artist on Spider-Man, and so much more is now a regular contributor to comics site Broken Frontier. The Image co-founder speaks about his gig on the Image series Haunt, the absence of long-term creative runs these days, and more in his first column right here. Here’s a snippet that’s sure to cause a stir in fanboy circles:

But for me, I don’t think and never believed you needed to define everything about a character within the first 10 issues or so.  I actually think it’s a detriment at times.  If you give the complete origin and background and motivation to a character in the first three issues, then What are you doing with the next 60 or 70 issues?

This is why Superman was never really that interesting to me.  He came out of the womb perfect, he was perfect, and he kept acting perfect.  Now keep that going for 500 issues.  It’s entertaining to a certain extent, but I would never name him in my top 10 heroes.  There were no flaws, no inconsistencies, and it never seemed like his character ever grew much.  He was prebuilt right from the get go, there was no mystery to him.

That argument is also one of the reasons why Wolverine was so popular in my heyday of collecting: we were screaming for more answers.  “What’s his origin?  Who does he belong to?  Why won’t you ever talk about him instead of Phoenix and Cyclops?!!”  And Marvel kept with that and after a while he became the most popular member of the X-Men because, in part because they were able to make his story engaging for a long time before they actually spilled the beans on him.

I’m hoping that Haunt has that same mystery about him where people don’t get to issue #15 and think they know all the answers. Because then it would devolve into superheroes punching each other for 60 more issues.

The Walking Dead On TV

This is good news. Image Comics’ long running zombie series is coming to TV. Press release below.

THE WALKING DEAD MARCH ON AMC
“Madmen” and “Breaking Bad” Network Greenlights Walking Dead Pilot

Variety reported today that Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s ongoing tale of survival horror in a post-apocalyptic world, THE WALKING DEAD, has been greenlit as a pilot by AMC.

“THE WALKING DEAD’s road to the small screen has been a long one, but so far it’s looking like the best of all worlds,” creator and writer Robert Kirkman said. “Given AMC’s track record with shows like ‘Madmen’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ combined with Frank Darabont writing and directing, I couldn’t possibly be more excited for this to come together. Having the pilot greenlit is a huge leap forward to this becoming a reality.”

THE WALKING DEAD has been published by Image Comics since 2003, with the series’ 69th issue due in stores next week. Current plans are for the AMC series to closely adapt the storylines presented in the monthly comics.

In addition to the ongoing com ics series, there are 11 trade paperbacks currently in print, collecting issues 1-66, along with a series of five hardcovers covering #1-60. The first 48 issues have also been collected in two limited edition slipcased hardcovers and a softcover compendium. Across are formats the series remains a sales juggernaut with the title charting on the New York Times’ graphic novels bestsellers list numerous times.

“Since its debut in October 2003, THE WALKING DEAD has been nothing short of unstoppable,” said Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson. “Over the last five years, sales on both the single issues and the trade paperback and hardcover collections have gone from strength to strength, so it’s no surprise that THE WALKING DEAD is now poised for success on TV. Everyone at Image is very excited to see this project come to light.”

THE WALKING DEAD #69, a 32-page black and white comic priced at $2.99, will be on sale at finer comic book stores everywhere January 27.

The Light In April

Two of my fave creators are teaming up for what sounds like a great new series. Details from Image below.

IMAGE COMICS SHEDS THE LIGHT ON HORROR THIS APRIL!

Surrogates Artist Brett Weldele and Olympus Writer Nathan Edmondson Kick Off Tale of Survival Horror in April

This April Surrogates illustrator Brett Weldele and OLYMPUS writer Nathan Edmondson warn you to close your eyes in their five-issue tale of survival horror, THE LIGHT!

“THE LIGHT is everything I love about horror combined into one story,” Edmondson explained. “From a terror rooted in something everyone can relate to and broken protagonists doing their best to overcome absolute despair, this is the comic I’ve been wanting to read.  Brett brings it to life with stunning visuals that grow in intensity as the story progresses.”

In THE LIGHT, a mysterious virus infects anyone that looks into an electric light. The few survivors include a father escaping town with his blindfolded daughter as the infected burn alive from the inside out. A fierce, action-packed and gritty tale of survival, THE LIGHT is 28 DAYS LATER meets 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.

THE LIGHT #1, a 24-page full color comic book with a cover price of $2.99, will be available for order in the February issue of Previews and goes on sale April 14.

Nathan Edmondson Interview

Up now at Broken Frontier is my interview with Nathan Edmondson, writer of the excellent Image series Olympus. The TPB of the series exploring Greek mythology in the context of a modern action film is now out. Check out my interview here.

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