Sorcerous Worlds at Valiant Comics

Saturday, October 13th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage 2-small

I attended New York ComicCon last weekend and am still processing a lot of it. The definition of drinking through a fire hose is certainly apt. By Friday afternoon and all of Saturday, walking through the exhibit hall or artist alley was an exercise is fluid dynamics, but I was there for panels, especially the publisher panels where they talked about their editorial vision and about their new titles.

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New Treasures: The Fantastic Four: Behold… Galactus! by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne and John Buscema

Friday, October 5th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantastic Four Behold Galactus 2

Just how big is the monster-sized Fantastic Four: Behold… Galactus! from Marvel Comics?

HUGE. Several comparison shots have popped up (including Charles R Rutledge’s side-by-side with a Robert Parker hardcover), but my favorite is the one above, borrowed from Bobby Nash’s Patreon page, which shows the book alongside a regulation-size graphic novel. Behold… Galactus! is an impressive 13.5 x 21.2 inches; big enough to double as a kitchen table.

Any way you slice it, this book is a beast. Its massive 312 pages contain virtually all of the early tales of Galactus from Fantastic Four, including Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved 60s classic “The Coming of Galactus” (from Fantastic Four #48-50) and its sequel “When Calls Galactus” (FF #74-77), plus the Lee-Buscema tale “Galactus Unleashed” (FF #120-123), and John Byrne’s 80s take on the Big G, from FF #242-244 (which includes the famous free-for-all “Everyone Versus Galactus,” from FF 243.)

Monster format aside, these classic stories still make terrific reading, especially the Lee-Kirby tales. The Fantastic Four remains my favorite Marvel Comic, and this book will help you understand why. It was published by Marvel on September 11, 2018. It is 312 pages, priced at $50 in hardcover and $24.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Alex Ross. See all our recent Comics coverage here.

New Horror Comics: Harrow County and Witch Creek Road

Saturday, September 29th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken


One of the forms of fantasy I’m interested in is horror. I can’t say I quite understand how it works, not enough for me to write it well consistently. So I’ve been looking at different works of horror, trying to learn. I blogged about Marvel’s horror comic Carnage, older horror comics like Eerie, year’s best collections like Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror Volume 8, movies like The Exorcist and The Shiningand classics like DC’s Swamp Thing.

Lately my reading has turned to Dark Horse’s Harrow County, by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Cook. It’s been heavily lauded in the comics press, has tons of great creators singing its praises, and I’ve been discovering it with delight.

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Mage: The Hero Denied 12

Thursday, September 27th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 12Before we begin this review, you might still be on the fence about whether or not to even start reading this series. If so, there’s a list of eight great reasons to start the series, with number 7 being the very best of them.

The way this last mini-series has been set up is that Matt Wagner will release four monthly issues, take a one-month break, release four more monthly issues, then another one-month break, four more monthly issues, a one-month break, then the final three issues. While this process allows everyone involved a bit more breathing room when putting out a regular series, it also ends up creating three extra-special cliffhangers. What that means for issue 12 is that we’re getting to the last special cliffhanger of the series before Matt Wagner finally powers through to the big finale.

It opens with Magda and Hugo stuck on a platform, being attacked by snake women. Last issue, we saw Magda’s Mary Poppins umbrella trick. This issue, we see her Penguin umbrella trick as she uses it as a gun to melt two of them before another one destroys it.

Meanwhile, the Umbra Sprite takes a dip in her pool of darkness in order to gather even more power, stating that “The Three” MUST be united for the plan to work. Of course, she still has no idea about who exactly composes “The Three,” although she’s fairly sure that Kevin and the Fisher King are two of them. Before submerging, she essentially places Karol in charge, warning her that “Sasha is a vain and vapid creature” and “Zophia (is) a slave to her own cruelty.” She then informs her most trusted daughter that all four of the remaining Gracklethorns must be prepared to fight and likely to die in the coming struggle. Given that she murdered one of her daughters in the previous issue, there’s no doubt that the Umbra Sprite is prepared to sacrifice all of them to achieve her goals. It’s also clear that the daughters so fear the Umbra Sprite that they’re willing to die rather than defy her.

Elsewhere, Kevin and Miranda are pursuing the mysterious imp. Despite knocking down some trees, Kevin loses not only the imp, but also the Questing Beast, who slips through a magic portal, sealing the portal behind itself. Even worse than losing their quarry, the magic mirror that Isis gave Kevin to stay in touch with Magda has been cracked.

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Analyzing the Comics Story-Telling Process with Panel x Panel

Saturday, September 15th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Panel x Panel 5

I enjoy analyzing the craft of comic books quite a bit. I’ve interviewed comic book editors like Heather Antos, Xander Jarowey, Daniel Ketchum, and creators like Plaid Klaus of Image’s Void Trip, or I’ve looked a specific genres, like horror, old and not so old and new.

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A Conversation with 2000AD‘s Rory McConville

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

2000AD page1-small

I’ve been reading 2000AD regularly for a few years now, and I noticed that more and more of the stories are being written by Rory McConville. First a Future Shock here and there, then a 3-part Tharg 3riller, and now multi-part Dredd stories. Since more than a few Black Gate readers are 2000AD fans, so I wanted to chat with Rory about his success and caught up with him online. Welcome to Black Gate, Rory!

Cheers, Derek. Thanks for having me!

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Goth Chick News: Everyone Needs an Exorsister

Thursday, August 30th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Exorsisters 1-small

When we were little, my cousin and I used to discuss our future career aspirations. Connie, who was a few years older, had what seemed like an unusual obsession with becoming a truck driver — unless you knew she was binge-watching BJ and the Bear courtesy of the cable channel Nick at Night, and was teen-aged crushing on Gregg Evigan. So, the whole truck-driver thing actually made sense.

Meanwhile, I was sneaking into the family room in the wee hours to watch old Universal Studios monster movies on the public access channel. While Connie dreamed hunky guys calling her some cute name over their rig’s CB radio, I either wanted to look for mummies in the desert or be a gypsy fortune-teller.

Connie thought I was strange.

Years later, she went on to be Miss Illinois before moving to NYC for a soap opera stint followed by a lucrative career on Broadway. I’m writing a weekly horror column under the bi-line “Goth Chick.” All this also makes sense when you think about it.

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Deadpool Writer Gerry Duggan Creates New Image Series: Analog

Saturday, August 18th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Analog Image 1-small

Many people know Gerry Duggan from his long run as the writer of Deadpool, or possibly as a TV writer on Attack of the Show. He’s recently paired with artist David O’Sullivan, colorist Mike Spicer and letterer Joe Sabino on Analog, a future noir action comedy Image comic set in a world where internet communications are not secure. The first trade is coming out soon, and a feature film adaptation is in the works at Lionsgate with the director of the John Wick trilogy, Chad Stahelski.

In the world they’ve created, computers and internet are no longer secure, so valuable corporate information must be carried by private couriers, who go armed and anonymous.

Jack McGuinness is one such courier, who has to fight his way through a lot of resistance to deliver his packages. His larger problem is that NSA’s surveillance function is also adapting to the analog world and he’s part of their answer. I managed to catch up with Gerry and David for an e-interview.

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Sadistic Vengeance and Grotesque Death — Still Only 20 Cents!

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(1) Adventure Comics 431-small

Just about anything goes in comics today; in terms of sex, violence, subject matter, and language, there aren’t many restraints remaining. That’s not a curmudgeonly complaint but rather a simple statement of fact, and whether the medium has become a free fire zone because of the general disappearance of boundaries in all areas of our culture, or simply because comic creators know that the overwhelming majority of their readers are adults doesn’t much matter. Whatever the cause, it’s easy to pinpoint when comics began to change (for better and worse) from what they were to what they are; the epicenter of that tectonic shift was the so-called Bronze Age, from 1970 to 1985, a period that began with a still-benign Batman polishing his giant penny and ended with Green Arrow’s kid sidekick, Speedy, shooting smack.

So many comic book barriers have come down since those far off days that it’s hard to remember when there were such barriers, and just as hard to remember the earthquake-like impact that resulted when one of those Comics Code Authority-enforced walls was breached. (One unintended but inevitable consequence of the eradication of limits is the loss of the ability to be shocked, or even to recall what being shocked felt like.)

One of the key temblors of that revolutionary Bronze Age era was DC’s Adventure Comics 431, January-February 1974. It featured a character we had learned not to expect too much from — the Spectre, who had last presided over his own title for ten issues from 1967 to 1969. The twelve cent Silver Age Spectre was a comic book of unsurpassed dullness, but those of us privileged to pluck Adventure 431 off the drug store spinner rack knew very quickly that this time our two dimes had bought us something really different.

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Mage: The Hero Denied 11

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage The Hero Denied 11-smallSo a lot of The Hero Denied seems to concern the dual identities that parents need to maintain, but which far too many don’t. And yeah, like so much of the series that’s gone before, we’re going to start by talking about fairies and magic, but we’ll soon find that we’re talking about our actual lives. If I seemed down on this third part of the Mage series early on, it’s because Kevin Matchstick seemed to be setting up a false choice between fatherhood or adventure. He didn’t have a job, didn’t seem to do a hell of a lot with his kids beyond picking them up from school, and basically spent a lot of his time wandering around aimlessly. His wife would nag about his going off on adventures when he should be attending parent-teacher conferences. His kids were little more than vulnerable targets for monsters whom he would eventually resent.

But with the kidnapping of Magda and Hugo, the dual identities of father and hero have finally come together. Kevin’s finally seeing that he’s raised a couple of amazing kids. We even get a glimmer this issue of the wonderful, horrible truth that most parents eventually realize: his children will one day be able to look out for themselves and won’t need him any longer. And rather than treating his wife like a damsel in distress, Kevin is confident that Magda will be able to take care of herself and their son. Basically, Kevin’s gone from seeing his family as targets to seeing them as allies. Powerful allies. His roles of hero and father aren’t meant to be a choice, but rather complement one another.

So this issue opens with Magda sending her purple flying cat familiar, Cleo, off into the vertigo chamber that lies outside their penthouse prison. The familiar is charged with finding an exit. While that’s going on, Magda shows Hugo all of the magic items that she’s managed to cobble together. The scene is very reminiscent of Q showing off gadgets to 007. There are exploding light bulbs, a hairdryer gun, invisibility hats, and spider-walking sneakers. I’m sure it’s significant that Magda paints lightning bolts on the sneakers, signaling that Hugo is taking on an aspect of his father.

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