Rachel Rising in The Walking Dead #95

Well, this is very nice of Robert Kirkman. The successful writer behind The Walking Dead comic, and the inspiration for the hit TV series, is showing an excerpt of Rachel Rising, the undead mystery comic from Terry Moore, in this month’s ish of The Walking Dead. Nice one, Kirkman. He did the same a while ago by running a preview of Chew, and that went on to great success. Good on Image for showing this excerpt too, considering Rachel Rising isn’t even a comic published by them. I’ve read its first issue and was pretty impressed so may just have to pick up the TPB when it goes on sale at the end of this month.

Oh, and if, like me, you’ve missed The Walking Dead TV series, you’ll be happy to know that the DVD and Blu-Ray collection of the first season is now on Aussie shores.

THE RISING DEAD
Rachel Rising excerpt to appear in THE WALKING DEAD #95

THE WALKING DEAD #95, in stores on March 28, will have a five-page preview of Terry Moore’s horror comic Rachel Rising, published by Moore’s own Abstract Studio. The trade paperback collecting the first six issues of the ongoing series by the Strangers in Paradise creator, Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death, will be in comic book stores the same day.

Rachel Rising tells the story of a young woman who cannot die. She wakes up at the foot of her own shallow grave, looking at her own freshly-murdered corpse. The events of her last night are hazy, and Rachel must piece together the events that led to her death — so that she can take revenge on the right person. Comic Book Resources described Rachel Rising as being “chock full of decadent mystery, unspeakable horror, strong characters, and beautiful black and white artwork, and it’s on its way to becoming the best of Terry Moore’s already impressive work.”

THE WALKING DEAD creator Robert Kirkman decided to include the preview in the latest issue of the Image Comics bestseller to support Moore’s work.

“Terry is a personal hero of mine dating back to my self-publishing days,” he writes in his introduction to the preview. “I’ve always been a fan of his work and an admirer of everything he’s been able to accomplish independently.”

THE WALKING DEAD #95 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn continues the series’ “A Larger World” storyline. Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death (ISBN 978-1-89259-751-9) is a 120-page black-and-white trade paperback.

Pilot Season: Stellar #1 Review

It’s been far too long since I’ve read anything from Top Cow, but I must say, it’s good to be back. Stellar is the latest offering from the Cow’s very smart Pilot Season initiative that sees a bunch of different one-shots compete for a mini-series. This batch is from Image partners Robert Kirkman (writer of The Walking Dead, Invincible) and superstar penciller Marc Silvestri.

Written by Kirkman, with art by Bernard Chang and cover by Silvestri, this is a very good example of how not to judge  a book by its cover. At first glance this may appear to be some sort of homage to the kinds of comics that were far too frequent last decade, ie, bad girl/good girl/sexy girl in a tight outfit fighting crime with mysterious poses, gravity defying poses and a basic plot that’s merely an excuse for all of that. However, upon further investigation, Stellar proves itself as a solid read, thanks mainly to the skilled Kirkman.

As he details in a closing page explaining the genesis of this concept, the book has the potential to go anywhere – to exotic planets with wild creatures and more and we get a tantalising glimpse of those concepts here, but based on these pages, I hope Stellar wins.

The premise for the book is an intriguing place to start. We’re not told the main character’s name, but can assume her nickname is Stellar. Essentially, she’s 1 of 5 soldiers who have been genetically enhanced on Earth. The powers are good, but the fact that the radiation within them causes other humans close to them to get sick is not so good. Nor is the fact that Stellar’s fellow volunteers were driven mad (and apparently evil) by the process. Stellar is the only one who desires to be a hero, so uses her powers to wander the universe doing just that, all the while aware she’s truly alone. All of that is a great spring board for an even greater tale, and Kirkman wisely drops hints about all this throughout each page turn. No awkward exposition here!

The issue begins with Stellar fending off a Rhino-Predatorsaurus type creature to find a healing herb for an old friend’s son, while recording in her journal, Captain Kirk-style. After some interesting developments including a possible romance, her feelings of loneliness and a foreboding offer she can’t refuse, Stellar’s world gets dangerous and complicated, and interesting.

Chang’s art is a nice blend of emotional moments and sci-fi splendour. His layouts are dynamic and there’s never a page without a  sense of drama or danger. Creatures and characters look real; leaning more towards Star Trek than Wars.

My vote’s on Stellar. Kirkman, as he reveals in his afterword, has a host of ideas for this book and I hope we get to see them. Stellar is but a tasty appetiser to what could be a potential buffet.

Pilot Season: Stealth #1 Preview

Yes, this one-shot from Top Cow’s Pilot Season series was meant to come out at the start of the year, but delays do happen. Now it’s out this week. Official description, and previews pages, below.

Pilot Season: Stealth #1
(W) Robert Kirkman (A) Sheldon Mitchell      (Cov) Marc Silvestri

From the creative minds of Image partners Robert Kirkman & Marc Silvestri!
Todd Carey is recovering from a nasty divorce, his daughter is flunking out of college and he’s just learned that his father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Unable to really take care of himself, Todd has allowed his father to move in with him.  What Todd doesn’t know, is that his father is the masked vigilante STEALTH… and has been his entire life.  Stealth has many enemies and his erratic behavior could easily get him killed–and all this trouble falls squarely in Todd’s lap.

Full Color 22 pages $2.99  pilot issue

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.

Haunt #1 Review

Haunt #1 CoverRightly so, there are big expectations for this new ongoing series from Image. Writer Robert Kirkman has become an indie darling with the success of his Walking Dead and Invincible series. One is a dramatic zombie epic, and the other is a bloody superhero epic, but they both show Kirkman’s skills at generating interest in unique characters in a new comic series, and that is something extremely hard to do in today’s funnybook climate.

His co-creator on Haunt, and inspired by Kirkman’s gauntlet throwing to get him back in the biz, is Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. McFarlane hasn’t been a regular writer or artist for years, and although he’s not the penciller on this series, it still smells of McFarlane’s influence. And that’s a pleasant odour.

Living up to the hype, the first 3 pages are a treat. A woman, a man, a cigarette moving to reveal the “holy” job of the man – it’s all a subtle set up that hooks you immediately. The priest, Daniel is then party to a confession by Kurt, his military brother, which is revealed to us via flashback. The next few pages are like something from a Tarantino film with a Bruckehimer budget, and it’s all good. Kurt climbs out of a body bag, “rescues” a scientist and a few of his test subjects and the shooting begins. It’s all rather bold and boisterous, but very enjoyable.

Then as Kurt leaves the church he’s kidnapped, tortured for the whereabouts of the scientist’s notebook and killed (off-panel). Daniel begrudgingly visits Amanda, Kurt’s widow and Kurt shows up, obviously causing Daniel to ask himself if he’s crazy, as it appears no-one else can see him.

The bad guys chasing the notebook appear, ready for more brutal intimidation, and just when you think that the loose Spider-Man/Spawn hybrid character on the cover won’t show up, he does, in a rather surprising fashion.

Capullo’s layouts combined with Ryan Ottley’s (Invincible) pencils and McFarlane’s inks make for a true visual feast. At first I was hesitant to give this series a chance as it seemed like a dull nod to the very early days of Image, when dark heroes with brutal methods were a dime a dozen, but these gentlemen combine to form a dynamic creative team. It’s never over the top just for the sake of it and Kirkman’s script whisks us away every few pages to a new scene and characters without ever muddying the waters of simple storytelling.

Of course, it all looks great, but it doesn’t cast that generic, cross-hatched look I was expecting. Too many cooks don’t spoil the broth in this case. Ottley, Capullo and McFarlane make every page detailed, visually interesting and unique. People look like people. There’s no over-exaggerated musculature and the sole woman who appears in full, looks normal. The action scenes in the secret bunker are laid out with just as much flair as the dialogue scenes in the church, limo and lounge room.

Kirkman manages to ditch any lengthy exposition and just focus on a character driven action yarn with much bravado. It makes for a seamless and intriguing narrative. Consider me hooked.

Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2009

Below is the press release, (and Marc Silvestri designs) about the latest Pilot Season special from Top Cow. Pilot Season is a grand idea – the Cow give readers a few different one-shots, fans vote and the most popular one gets its own mini-series.

FROM THE TOP SECRET FILES OF ROBERT KIRKMAN AND MARC SILVESTRI PILOT SEASON: DECLASSIFIED ONLY $1

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the 2009 year of Pilot Season will kick off with Pilot Season: Declassified. The 32-page full color preview book is expected to be available in stores on October 14th, 2009 and will retail for one dollar.

Five brand new comic book properties born out of the collaboration between Image partners Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Invincible) and Marc Silvestri (Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia, The Darkness) will compete against each other to win the votes of the fans who will determine the winning property that will be rewarded with its own full series. This highly anticipated year of Pilot Season begins in November, but fans will get a first look at all five of the new properties this October in the $1 Pilot Season: Declassified. The secrets behind the inception of each property will be revealed in trailer pages, secret documents, and design sketches ripped from the pages of Marc Silvestri’s sketchbook.

For only $1, Pilot Season: Declassified continues Top Cow’s recently established annual tradition that gives fan the final say in what comic books they want to read. Since 2007, Top Cow has given fans the power to choose a Top Cow series based on a selection of one-shot Pilot Season “pilot” issues through online voting. The inaugural Pilot Season initiative garnered more than four million votes from fans across the globe.

“Pilot Season is something I look forward to each year and a unique event for the comic industry,” commented Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, “With two creative masterminds like Robert and Marc at the helm, I have no doubt we’ll get some of the most unique and stunning creations we’ve seen in the competition to date.”

Pilot Season 2009 Sketch 1

Pilot Season 2009 Sketch 2

Invincible #63 Might Be Awesome

If only all press releases were this amusing. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Image’s marketing team hits the internet with this little beauty, fresh from the taste of Marvel’s Captain America returns hyped mega-event still in our mouths. This is great timing and if there’s any justice, this bold PR move will pay off. 

Invincible #63PRESS RELEASE – NEW ISSUE OF INVINCIBLE TO BE SUPER POPULAR AND BELOVED FOR VAGUE, CRYPTIC REASONS!
Something might be happening in INVINCIBLE #63 and whatever it is will quite possibly be rather amazing!

In an unprecedented move, writer Robert Kirkman and illustrator Ryan Ottley have made a cryptic, semi-confident promise that INVINCIBLE #63 might be kind of a big deal for reasons they wouldn’t say and plan to back it up with a special Wednesday shipment direct to comic shops!

“All I’m saying is INVINCIBLE #63 reorders should be double or triple over all retailer’s orders combined plus fifty thousand,” Kirkman stated. “I even heard President Barack Obama might call a press conference to discuss the contents of this very special issue, because there may be something of national interest in there. Also, every newspaper ever could possibly make it a front page story. Who knows?! All I can say for sure is every single human being on the planet, regardless of whether they read comics or even know what they are, will definitely be extremely interested in this issue, maybe even enough to buy a copy!”

 INVINCIBLE #63 might even possibly be the biggest comic book event of all time, up there with The Death of Superman, The Death of Captain America, The Entirety of the Early Nineties and Action Comics #1! The only certainty is everyone must place a ridiculously massive order for a non-returnable product they may or may not make a profit on sometime in the near future. Or never. Don’t ask – just buy it! You trust us, right?


Added Image Comics Publisher ericstephenson, “There’s a chance this could very possibly an event of undetermined importance, both for comics fans and people of all walks of life, with only the most passing familiarity with comic books, or even books, period. We can’t really say what happens in this issue, but trust, something does happen. And it might even be something interesting. Best not to jinx it, though, so let’s just go with, ‘Something happens.’ It’s somewhat likely a number of people we have yet to identify will want one. “

INVINCIBLE #63 (APR090384), a 32-page full color comic book easily worth around $500, but costing only $2.99, will be in stores June 17th, 2009.
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