Future Treasures: Rat Queens Volume 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Rat Queens Volume II-smallRat Queens, Volume 1 was nominated for a 2015 Hugo — and all on its own, too, without having to rely on a slate or anything. (I wonder if we’ll have to put that qualifier on all future Hugo nominees.)

The Rat Queens is a darkly comedic “sass-and-sorcery” graphic novel, featuring a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It follow the adventures of four Dungeons and Dragons archetypes, Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief, as they hack their way through dungeons and strangers things, in this modern spin on an old school genre.

A brand-new, booze-soaked tale of the Rat Queens reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far. Collects issues #6-10 of the smash-hit series, plus extras.

Volume 1, Sass & Sorcery, was released on April 8, 2014, and is still available — at the low introductory price of $9.99. It’s definitely the best starting place if you’re not familiar with the series. I bought it last year, and it was quickly snatched up by all the comic-reading bipeds in my house.

Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth was written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic. It will be published by Image Comics on May 19, 2015. It is 136 pages in full color, priced at $14.99. There is no digital edition.


Pretty Deadly: The Song of Death-Faced Ginny

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

Pretty Deadly 1-smallI still remember the first time I read Sandman. I didn’t read comics back then: I thought of them as longer versions of the strips in the Sunday paper and didn’t give them much other thought. Then one day, I was sitting in the metal working classroom in High School, and Morley, a red-haired skinny punk rocker I still wish I had gotten to know better, handed me a comic book and said, “You should read this. It’s awesome.”

I knew from the cover, a strange collage that was both enticing and off-putting, it wouldn’t be what I expected. But I had no idea what I was in for. I didn’t like the art, and some of the references confused me, but otherwise, I was completely blown away. It was one of those life altering experiences: not only did I discover Neil Gaiman, I discovered comic books. That first volume completely changed the way I thought of storytelling and visual design, the way that myth and story could dance together, and the way the mythic and mundane could crash together.

Twenty years later, I had that experience again. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios’ Pretty Deadly is a lush, gorgeous and lyrical graphic novel, a mythopoeic western that plays with the conventional gunslinger tropes while bringing in elements of horror and folklore. And what ties it all together is the song of Death-faced Ginny.

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The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock, Part Two: The Magus Saga

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Warlock Madness MonsterRead The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock, Part One here.

My 10-year old son saw my Warlock comics (the ones showing the clowns and the Madness Monster I’ll discuss in this post) this morning and asked who Warlock was and why his villains were so weird. Then, of course, being ten, he asked if I could get him some Warlock comics. And I explained to him that he might not like them.

Warlock is a very sad hero, I explained. He tries to be good, and tries to make good choices, but all that ever happens is that people around him get hurt or he fails. I think that’s a good way to start this post.

I should also note that this post is constructed entirely of spoilers. 100%, wall-to-wall spoilers of a thirty-year old story. Embrace the spoilers.

In my last segment, I looked at the hero Adam Warlock, from his synthetic birth as “Him” in the 1960s to his rechristening as a messiah figure in 1972 and 1973 and eventual cancellation. This first period was an important start to what I said to my son. Adam Warlock tried to save Counter-Earth and ultimately, he could not expunge the evil in men and he left for the stars.

The second phase of the saga is the Jim Starlin as writer/artist era, which I measure from 1975 until the hero’s death in 1977. Jim Starlin produced two classic stories in this phase, the Magus arc and the Thanos arc. These are big and original for the comics of the time, so I’m going to cover the Starlin period in two posts. Today is the Magus saga.

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New Treasures: Image Firsts Compendium, Volume One

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Image Firsts Compendium-smallThere’s a lot of good work going on in comics. Correction: there’s a lot of great work going on in comics, especially if you’re a fantasy fan.

It’s hard to keep up with it all. However, I’ve developed a simple system over the years. Once a month I visit my local comic shop here in St. Charles (Graham Cracker Comics; and here’s a shout out to Dan W. and Kurt Biallas, who’ve been selling me terrific comics since Kurt was about ten years old), and buy the first few issues of anything that looks interesting.

I take them home and give them to my 19-year-old son Timothy, whom I’ve studiously trained in the art of comics — starting by reading the entire Lee-Ditko run on Amazing Spider-man to him and his younger brother Drew when they were both still in footie jammies. Timothy patiently reads these comics cover-to-cover, and lets me know which ones are worth my time.

Everyone should have a 19 year-old son like Timothy. He’s also handy when the lawn needs to be mowed, or the driveway needs to be shoveled.

Sadly, Timothy made an unfortunate life choice last year (unfortunate for me, anyway). He went off to college in another state. The stack of comics waiting to be read now fills nearly an entire box, and it’s gathering dust in the corner, neglected. Clearly, I need a new system.

Apparently I’m not the only person to have this problem. When I was in the comic shop last month, I found Image Firsts Compendium, Volume One propped up near the cash register. It’s a fat, 320-page full cover graphic novel, containing the first issues of no less than nine new titles from Image Comics. And it’s priced at $5.99 — less than it will cost you for two measly comics.

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Into the Pits: Ody-C Issues 3 and 4

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

ODY-C issue 3-smallOdysseus’ encounter with the Cyclops is (and has consistently been for several thousand years) one of the best known episodes from the Odyssey. It’s exciting, it’s graphic, and it displays Odysseus’ most notable quality: his cunning. So I was eager to see what Ody-C would do with this episode when it reached that point. It did so fairly quickly, and issues 3 and 4 span the telling of this encounter for Odyssia and her crew.

The results were mixed. There are things I loved, and a few I really didn’t. But first, to touch on what Homer did first. Not because it’s the meter by which we should judge Ody-C but because I like some of the ways Matt Fraction is playing with the prototype here.

For those who don’t remember, Odysseus and his crew wash up on the shores of the island of the Cyclopes. They find a large, empty cave, and help themselves to cheese and milk while waiting for the inhabitant to return. When he does, he isn’t a human but the massive Cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus proceeds to eat many of the sailors, until Odysseus gets him drunk and gouges out the Cyclops’ eye with a massive pole. The men then tie themselves beneath Polyphemus’ sheep in order to escape the cave when the flocks are let out to graze.

In Ody-C, the fundamentals are all here but the differences are significant. Odyssia and her women arrive on the planet Kylos. They find a massive fortress, and rather than looking for sustenance, Odyssia orders a break of the citadel in the hopes of finding treasure.

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The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock, Part One

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

250px-Marv_premiere_01I think that my first encounter with Adam Warlock was in The Power of Warlock #2. Even at 11 or 12, I gravitated towards the lonely, brooding heroes of the Marvel universe, like Daimon Hellstrom and Doctor Strange, so I was hooked on my first look at Warlock. Like Hellstrom and Strange, Adam Warlock walked around with a heavy touch of destiny and Warlock #2 was a pretty brain-expanding issue. I read a lot of Adam Warlock since then.

In my head, I break down Adam Warlock’s history into three periods: (1) pre-Jim Starlin, which covers from his “birth” to the cancellation of his series in 1973, (2) the Starlin era, covering from 1975 until Warlock’s death in 1977 and (3) the post-Starlin era (which I name with wild inappropriateness, because Starlin still had a big hand in it), which basically covers Warlock’s resurrection onwards.

In this first post, I want to talk about the first period, the pre-Starlin Adam Warlock. I have always felt that this run of comics is a bit like a tiny restaurant serving great food that no one knows about but me.

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Adapting Nostalgia to Be More Awesome (And How I Try to Contain my IDW Anger While Remaining Spoiler Free. Mostly)

Friday, March 20th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Reboots are awesome. There you go. I’ve said it. Call blasphemy all you want, but I’m a fan of (some) adaptations, and 80s cartoons are high on my list of “Yes, please adapt.” It’s not just that modern companies are making the storylines better; they’re quite frankly making some of them make sense. Not in all cases, but in a heck of a lot of them.

I’m a child of the 80s. I grew up on these cartoons, and enjoyed their adaptations. I followed their various incarnations, too, but now is a golden age for storylines, with plenty flourishing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I would not pause to admire these turtles' beauty. I would pause to stare at them in confusion.

Knee pads are a ninja’s BFF.

I’ve always been a fan of witty repartee, martial arts and turtles. Combine all three and you’ve sold me. Easily.

TMNT started as a rather dark comic book, grew into a 10-year long cartoon show in the 80s, then a 6-year run starting in 2003. Nickelodeon bought the rights in 2012, and BOOM, started everything up again.

IDW has two new comics lines, one based on the new cartoon show and one more based on the old comics (and much darker. I love it). I struck that out because they just repeated one of my least favorite storylines ever (spoiler link). No conclusion on that yet, so I’m no longer including it (take that, IDW!) Let’s also ignore anything live action, because there is absolutely no winning there.

Anyway, back to the new cartoon. What makes the new turtles unique? Their personalities are more defined.

Michelangelo, the party one, is now more funny than annoying. Donatello gets more chances to shine (he’s my fave). Leonardo, the poor always responsible lead turtle, is now a geek and gets excited about Space Heroes (a riff off Star Trek: The Animated Series). Raphael is still angry and one of the most loyal and, although he pretends to be a hard-ass, he’s one of the more sensitive.

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Future Treasures: Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaronand and Russell Dauterman

Monday, March 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Thor Volume 1 Goddess of Thunder-smallWhen I was a kid monumental events in comics, like the death of Gwen Stacey or the defeat of Thanos, were discussed in excited whispers on the playground. Not so these days. When Thor, the God of Thunder, became a woman, Whoopi Goldberg made an exclusive announcement live on The View on July 15th, 2014. Times sure have changed.

Now, Thor didn’t actually change sex, or anything like that. Thor is still, well, Thor. But he’s the God of Thunder because — as has been well established in Journey into Mystery #83 and the awesome party scene in the upcoming Avengers 2 – he is worthy to wield the mystical hammer Mjolnir. Over the 52-year history of Marvel’s Thor, other individuals have also proven worthy, including the alien Beta Ray Bill, Captain America, Odin, and even Conan the Barbarian and Superman. Last year Marvel revealed a dramatic twist in the saga of Thor, when he became unworthy to lift the hammer for the first time, and the mantle of Thunder God was taken up by an unknown woman who lifts Mjolnir in Thor’s place. The first six issues of the new Thor comic will be collected this May. As predicted, the shift has drawn a whole new audience — including my daughter, who confesses it’s her new favorite comic.

Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! Something dark has befallen the God of Thunder, leaving him unworthy for the first time ever! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, the hammer will be lifted — and a mysterious woman will be transformed into an all-new version of the mighty Thor! Who is this new Goddess of Thunder? Not even Odin knows… but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants! Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before, as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: the Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer… it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor!

Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder was written by Jason Aaronand and illustrated by Russell Dauterman, and will be published by Marvel Comics on May 26, 2015. It is 136 pages in hardcover, priced at $24.99. Digital editions are available through Marvel’s online subscription service.


Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944

Monday, March 16th, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944In 1941 comics artist June Tarpé Mills started a new Sunday adventure strip: Miss Fury. It would run until 1952, telling the wild and beautifully-drawn saga of a socialite who donned a magical black cat-suit to fight Nazis and criminals. In 2011 IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint published a selection of Miss Fury strips from 1944 through 1949, edited and with an introduction by comics historian Trina Robbins. Last year Robbins and IDW published a second volume, collecting the series from the start up to the beginning of the earlier collection, again featuring an introduction about Mills and her strip, and as well a brief selection of some of Mills’ earlier work. I had a chance to read the recently-published second collection, and was tremendously impressed.

To start with what is most immediately obvious: the book’s a feast for the eyes. Not only is Mills’ art spectacular, but the reproduction brings out the richness of the linework and often-stunning colours. Designed by Lorraine Turner, the book is quite beautiful. The paper’s obviously whiter and brighter than newsprint, but the colours still feel appropriate, bright and yet often detailed.

Certainly Mills’ art deserves good treatment. Her work is beautiful, with a sumptuous eye for costume and detail, as well as crisp action. The story is fast-paced pulp adventure at full blast — shadowed New York cityscapes and Brazilian jungles, fist-fights and gun-battles and aerial dogfights, violence and a surprising amount of sex and blood. It’s wildly entertaining, with characters breathtakingly broad and unlikely, easily navigating the line where the ridiculous and the awesome meet.

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Developing a Voice, Fine Tuning Scripts, and Getting Neurotic About Hair Color: An Interview with Marvel Comics Assistant Editor Xander Jarowey

Saturday, March 14th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Amazing_X-Men_Vol_2_1

Did someone say “press gang”?

life after wolverineI recently interviewed Marvel Comics Associate Editor Jake Thomas, and now I’m having an e-conversation with Xander Jarowey. Xander is the Assistant Editor on All-New X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Legendary Star-Lord (all under Editor Mike Marts), Nightcrawler, X-Force and Magneto (under Editor Daniel Ketchum), and All-New X-Factor and Guardians Team-Up (for Editor Katie Kubert). He’s recently become the editor on Amazing X-Men and has also edited the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan, and is the Editor of the upcoming X-Tinction Agenda.

Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Xander. How long have you been with Marvel and how did you get in? Internship? Job application? Press gang?

Thanks for having me! My path to Marvel was circuitous. I moved to New York to work in theatrical management. I worked a few internships and had a ton of fun, but I came to a point where I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to stay in the industry. I’m a huge comics fan and Marvel has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe I should blame it on the X-Men cartoon?

I looked at the Marvel site on a whim and saw an editorial assistant job. It sounded a lot like what I’d been doing in theatre. I got an interview, but lost the job to Devin Lewis (who is now the assistant editor for Nick Lowe on Spider-Man). He doesn’t know it yet, but payback is coming one day. Marvel got in touch with me after the interview and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for an assistant editor position. I had to hold in my fanboy squeal. They gave me a script and a day to give them notes. After that I went through a series of interviews and somehow hoodwinked them all into hiring me. It’s been a fantastic year and a half ago since then.

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