Category Archives: Features

Underrated: Crecy

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Crecy.


I’ve always been interested by the middle ages, and the English use of the longbow. In part because it’s the origin of one of my favourite hand gestures to use (especially in North America when so few actually know what I’m doing in pictures). Needless to say, when I saw that gesture over a bloody St. George’s cross, I grabbed the book off the shelf. And then noticed that it was a Warren Ellis book.

I am by no means an authority on the Battle of Crecy. I only really know of a few accounts through Wikipedia articles and their sources and the Bernard Cornwall novels surrounding an English Archer named Thomas of Hookton, with the book Harlequin telling the tale of the battle from his perspective. So I won’t claim to know that this book is 100% historically accurate, but it is as faithful a telling as you’re likely to find from the eyes of an archer – whether in a textbook or not.

Ellis utilizes a lead character who frequently addresses the audience when telling the battle’s story and events, showing knowledge of modern times without ever indicating that he knows he’s in a fictional story. It’s an effective story device, and one that I really enjoy for this type of story (but I hope we don’t see it over used, either). The black and white are hides some of the violence, but serves to highlight the mayhem and carnage of the day.

Crecy is a great book – worth every penny of the cover price, and far more Underrated than it should be.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Folklords

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Folklords.


I had been meaning to read Folklords when it first came out for two reasons; the cover looked really interesting, and it was written by Matt Kindt, but I was never able to find the first issue in shops. By the time the third issue hit the shelves, I knew that it would be easier to just wait until the trade hit the shelves, which is exactly what I did. Of course, the pandemic kinda delayed that plan a little (maybe – it certainly feels like everything has been delayed because of the months-that-felt-like-years).

Folklords was originally published by Boom Studios from November until March 2020, with Kindt being joined by artist Matt Smith, colourist Chris O’Halloran and letterer Jim Campbell. The follows Ansel on his quest for the eponymous Folklords. He’s an outsider in his village because of his visions of a world with buildings as tall as mountains, flying ships and horseless carriages. His visions have inspired him to recreate the objects he’s seen such as fire lighters and a time telling device worn on his wrist, and his questing outfit is inspired by the clothing he sees the residents of these magical places wear.

Yup, Ansel is having visions of our world.

On it’s surface, this is a story about discovering who you are, which is literally the motivation for the young people in the village to undertake their quests around their 18th birthday. Writing that shortly after watching Frozen 2 again has now firmly put Show Yourself into my internal record player, but that’s not the end of the world (for me, anyway). But I digress; just because the surface level of the story is about finding who you are (and it’s a good tale, too), doesn’t mean that Kindt hasn’t peppered the five issues in the Folklords collection with more subtle questions and answers around the suppression of information and the willingness to give in to personal bias.

Folklords is a book that’s easy to read and, pardon the cliche, hard to put down.

The imagery is gorgeous, colourful and very fitting for the fantasy world that has been created in this book. Smith and O’Halloran also inject more than a little physical comedy into the proceedings, complimenting Kindt’s more humorous moments within the script.

Despite this being a relatively recent release, I wanted to feature it this week because with the series coming out so close to the day North America shut down, I figured that a lot of people had missed talking about the series in their shops or hadn’t seen the covers on the shelf, making it easy to overlook. Folklords is a fun story with a lot of depth – and it’s certainly an underrated gem of a book that you need on your shelf.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Star Wars Comics

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Star Wars Comics.


I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world. I’m also not the oldest, either – oh, sure I watched the movies as a kid, saw the Prequel trilogy in the cinema, but it wasn’t until Force Awakens came out that the franchise really captured me hook, line, and sinker. I love the movies (well, all but a couple that are in the Prequel trilogy), but have never gone beyond those into the expanded universe (EU) of comics and books published prior to the franchise being owned by Disney. I understand that since Disney has purchased the Star Wars property from George Lucas that a lot of those stories are no longer cannon, but are no less enjoyable than they were prior to the purchase. I assume – I’ve never actually read those, and probably never will. But since the purchase, Disney have been releasing their own line of comics through Marvel (and books, probably, but I’m not focusing on those today) to re-expand the lore that they stripped away when the original EU was stripped away.

Despite being a big comics fan, and a new Star Wars fan, I never once thought about reading the comics that were going to reintroduce us to the world and build upon what was known from the movies. It just never occurred to me.

Star Wars was something I watched not something I read.

That changed this year when I found a rather significant haul of Star Wars trade paper backs for a remarkably decent price. I’m willing to read almost any tpb or graphic novel if the price is right and it collects a full story (not always the entire story, but one that can be read alone – like Empire can be watched without watching A New Hope), and so I purchased seven or eight of the books. It didn’t take me long to start reading the books when I got home, and before I knew it I had finished the lot within a day or three – and much to my surprise, there wasn’t a dud amongst them.

While I’m not going to elaborate too much on the individual books because they may or may not be the subject of a future column, and this one is about the concept of the Star Wars comics (or something), it was fascinating to see Darth Vader put down a rebellion on a mining planet without caring whether or not the ruling monarch survived so long as the Empire still got what it needed from the planet. He wasn’t presented as anything other than a villain, but he just happened to be a darkly funny villain who we’re rooting for because we know how his story ends. Likewise, the Kanan collection added a lot to my knowledge of the universe, and was still hugely enjoyable despite never having watched an episode of Rebels, Clone Wars or any of the other animated offerings (yet) because of how it expanded on what the various Jedi were faced with when Order 66 was executed.

And that’s not even touching Doctor Aphra, or any of the other dozens of miniseries and collected editions that I’m going to be keeping my eye out for the next time I’m out and about because now I need to know what else I can learn about the events in a galaxy that happened a long time ago.

The comics may not be for everyone, but if you’re a comic reader (and I assume you are if you’re reading this), and a Star Wars fan and you haven’t read these stories, then you owe it to yourself to check out the books being published by Marvel. If you have read them, then I shall gladly listen to the “I told you so” if you want to follow it up with “now read this…”


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Not Rushing Your comics Reading

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Not Rushing Your Comics Reading.


I never actually expected that I’d be writing a column focusing on the underrated aspects of comics on comics as a whole, but then I also never expected to be living during a global pandemic. The period of time during which comics ceased all publication drove me to reading a lot of trade paperbacks and other collected editions of series I had either never read, or hadn’t read in a long time; X-Men stories such as Operation: Zero Tolerance and The Dark Phoenix Saga, and a plethora of titles not from the Big Two ranging from Saga to a reread of Ninja-K. I’ve read a surprisingly large amount of Star Wars comics (more on those in the coming weeks), and have really cut down on my backlog of books to read (and consequently my collection has never been better organized).

But ever since the comic industry started to release books again, I’ve found that I haven’t actually read a third of what I’ve been picking up at my LCS. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, it’s that after so many months of reading a full story in one go, I’ve found that now I’m waiting until I have more than a single issue in a story to read so that I can get more of a fix in one go rather than waiting the 30 days between issues. I realize that this is also increasing the time between me reading the comics (I’ve got two issues of Once And Future next to me right now), but the fact that it’s already been more than 30 days between some issues is besides the point so I’m just prolonging the already extended period between issues.

Or something.

The truth is, I wasn’t intending to do this. I had every intention of reading stuff immediately after buying it, but… I’ve lost the urgency to read comics as soon as I get them now. Pandemic related? Maybe. But it’s the lack of urgency that’s allowing me to savour the stories again and let the issues build up so I can lose myself in a couple issues of Batman, No One’s Rose and other series I’ve been picking up.

It’s nice, honestly, to have lost the FOMO (fear of missing out) that so many of us experience with comics. Maybe because I haven’t fully gotten back into the routine of buying, reading and storing comics yet, but I’ve found a new way to enjoy the stories that I’ve loved for nearly 30 years. With patience (though I enjoy reading older stories in trade, I don’t expect I’ll ever become a trade waiter).

Of course, give me a couple more weeks, and I’m sure that I’ll wonder why I ever wrote this, but right now not rushing through my comics has given me a surprising amount of enjoyment from what I’m reading. It may not become my new normal, but I’ll make the most of it while I’m still enjoying the process.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Black Beetle: No Way Out

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Black Beetle: No Way Out


Another week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand.” This week we’re looking at the first volume of Francisco Francavilla‘s Black Beetle: No Way Outanother book that I found at a thrift store for an absolute bargain price. Actually, bargain is understating things. I paid $1 for this book (technically $1.25, but at but 4 get 1 free it works out to a dollar). Which is an absolute steal of a deal for a hardcover trade.

Black Beetle: No Way Out is published by  Dark Horse, written and drawn by Francavilla, and takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the old pulp novels of the 30’s and 40’s, with all the semi futuristic-steampunk technology and sleek lines that includes.

This throwback feeling permeates the entire graphic novel, genuinely allowing it to read as a pulp novel from a bygone era – but one with the tonal sensitivities of today. It’s within this area that Francavilla tells the story of a vigilante who is equal parts the Shadow, the Spider and the Black Bat – and though comparisons to Batman will be made, the only similarity there is that Batman is more prevalent in the cultural awareness of our medium than the other three characters previously mentioned. I’m not saying the comparisons are unfair, but that the similarities are more in line with the characters Batman took inspiration from rather than Bruce Wayne himself.

The story, then, that is told within No Way Out is very reflective of those pulp novels, especially the original covers that are used as story breaks between the individual issues. Francavilla’s artistic approach is very evocative of the art styles of the time – simple colours, thick lines and a sense of foreboding. With Francavilla handling both the writing and the art duties in the book, we’re given a tour-de-force of a creative offering as he delivers an incredible experience.

And that, ultimately, is why I loved this book so much. It’s an incredibly fun pulp story, a classic hero romp with a hero who in’t shy about using his guns. Of course that does leave a little room for folks to be concerned about a lack of substance in the plot, but I think for the most part that is a concern that can be put aside by the artistic offering.

This is a book that’s absolutely worth a read.

Yes, I only paid $1 for it, and yes, I only bought it because it was in a thrit store, but I am so glad that I did. Black Beetle: No Way Out is easily the best thing I have read all week – including the four other books I picked up – and I am frankly astounded that I had never read this before. I’m equally as astounded that I’d never even heard of the book before.  Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Valiant Masters: Ninjak: Black Water

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Valiant Masters: Ninjak: Black Water.


Ever since I’ve started to collect Valiant comics, I’ve been picking up the hardcover deluxe editions here and there as a way to catch up in bulk on some of the series I’ve missed, and also because I just like the look of them. A while back I did a cost analysis as to whether it was worth buying the deluxe editions verses the softcover trades or single issue floppies at cover price; generally the savings were negligible depending on the size of the book (less than $5, I think) between the hardcovers and soft covers, but the difference between the hard covers and cover price floppies varied greatly depending on how many books were collected (and it didn’t factor in the cost of the floppies after they’ve been on the market for a while, as they can fluctuate higher or lower depending on different trends).

This is relevant only because the Valiant Masters hardcovers generally contain the first eight issues of the original Valiant series (either 1-8 or 0-7 depending on the stories within), which means that for $25 you end up paying about $3.25 a comic. Whether that’s a good price for the early Valiant books depends on which book you’re looking at; I’ve paid $20 for the first appearance of Rai, $6 for the first appearance of Ninjak and around $1 for others, so it’s largely a crap shoot, but for the most part the individual issues collected in the Valiant Masters are going to be cheaper than the hardcover itself depending on which one you’re looking at.

The point I’m making here is that while I’m talking about the hardcover today, in reality I’m really looking at the eight issues within the book (Ninjak #1-6, before giving us his origin with issues #0 and #00), and those you can probably find easier than the hardcover which may be out of print now. The floppies will likely be cheaper given how out of print Valiant hardcovers tend to sell for higher than cover price.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of these Masters editions is in comparing what I know about the characters from their 2012 relaunch and the versions that appeared in the 90’s. The Ninjak of the 90’s had his differences from the modern version; born to English parents as part of an experiment to grow enhanced humans, he grew up in Japan and learned the ways of the ninja from a temple he sought refuge in after his father was murdered. The rest, his technology and such, differ only in what was conceivable to the writers of the time.

Black Water has the titular ninja taking down an international conglomerate. It sounds fairly cliche now, but the story’s echoes of Batman and James Bond set it apart from the general run of the mill hero vs corporation stories. The story is only the first two issues of the series and , but by the time that story had wrapped I felt like I’d read a full trade – one of my favourite things about comics from the 90’s and before has always been the amount of content packed into each issue. The first six issues we get are wonderful. Reading these, and the other early Valiant, I can understand why the publisher gained such a strong following over the years. Compact, exciting, and with some truly exciting art (I acknowledge that comic art has come a long way since the 90’s, but these issues of Ninjak hold up very well even today).

There may only be a limited number of folks left who, like me, want to explore the original Valiant comics of the 90’s that haven’t already done so, but these hardcover editions are a brilliant gateway to the past, and great encouragement to go hunting for the comics that haven’t been collected – and may never be at this point. That’s why I think these books are underrated; because so few of you will be looking for them. Which is a shame because those early Valiant stories are fantastic.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: X-Men: The Shattering

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event X-Men: The Shattering.


If I’m totally honest, my Golden Age of X-Men comics is from the mid 90’s to the early 2000’s. This wasn’t exactly when I first started reading the X-Men, that was around 98/99, but because I was largely reading UK reprints, I wasn’t reading the current comics – they were probably always a good two to five years behind what was being published and sold in comic shops depending on the story being presented in the magazine. The reprint magazine had space for three comics in it – this wouldn’t always be three concurrent issues, but was often an issue of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men that were published within the same month and an issue of Uncanny from the 60’s or 70’s). These reprint magazines are actually responsible for the weird dichotomy in my head of knowing the stories very well, but having no context for what issue they came from (yes, the reprint did tell you what comics they were reprinting, but it was much like a tpb; you don’t really notice unless you look in the fine print if the covers).

Over the years, I’ve slowly been picking up and working on completing a run of X-Men comics from issues 100-500, though my focus for years was around 250-400, but because I’ve been largely focused on Uncanny X-Men, I don’t have a lot of the issues that form the giant crossover – if I even have all the Uncanny issues (look, I was often going by cover art and price when picking books up, not sequential numbering, so I have holes everywhere in my collection), so for a story that I really want to read I’ve been picking up cheap collected editions just to be able to read or reread them. And because I have no intention of risking damaging the early Uncanny issues I own, I’ve also been looking for collected editions of The Dark Phoenix Saga and so on.

The Shattering was a story that came out just as I was transitioning away from reprints and into the single issues for most series, and so where parts of the comic is familiar to me, a lot of it is relatively fresh – or fresh enough. I’ve got an obvious soft spot for this period of the X-Men, but I acknowledge that not everybody will enjoy the way that Alan Davis tells the story here – though this isn’t the end of the story by any means because the book ends on a cliffhanger that’s already got me scouring online retailers for the next volume (my LCS didn’t have it – I picked this book up from them and didn’t see any others), because I feel the need to follow up on just how this tale ends and I don’t have all the single issues just yet.

I remember reading bits and pieces of this years ago, and was shocked at the time about the revelation on the final page; I won’t reveal it here in case you’ve never read the story and choose to, but reading the trade knowing what was coming does give you an interesting insight into what’s to come.

Oddly, despite my love of the X-Men from the 90’s, I’ve got a lot of holes to fill, which should be pretty easy given how many are in the back issue bins. After all, 90’s comics aren’t all bad, there’s just a huge number of them in longboxes across the country because so many were printed. That just makes them worth less than the comics from the 70’s and 80’s, but it doesn’t mean they’re not any good.

X-Men: The Shattering leads into The Twelve, a story I am reasonably sure I’ve never read, but seems to be full of all the characters I loved the most when I first started reading about Marvel’s merry mutants. Something I was more than happy to do with a story that is far more Underrated than I ever expected.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: X-Cutioner’s Song

The cover of the trade I don’t own.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event X-Cutioner’s Song.


The first chapter of X-Cutioner’s Song was published in November 1992 in Uncanny X-Men #294, with subsequent eleven parts coming in issues of X-Factor, X-Men, X-Force and Uncanny X-Men. With the series being billed as revealing the origin of Cable (it didn’t – that came in 1994), there was significant hype and buzz around the comics when they were hitting the shelves nearly thirty years ago, but because I wasn’t into comics at the time, I never heard any of it.

Instead, I noticed a cover when restocking the boxes at my LCS and decided to pick up the arc after the shop owner gave it a quick recommendation. Fortunately, we had a full set (or seven) in stock, so I grabbed the individual issues rather than hunting down a collected edition (partly because I am also building an X-Men and Uncanny X-Men collection, but also because I wanted to read it as it was originally presented in comic form. Complete with the polybags still sealed for some off the comics (I won’t lie, I was tempted to leave them sealed, but at only a couple bucks a comic it didn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I wanted the feeling of cracking those bags and getting to be the first person reading these comics.

I forget sometimes how much dialogue and text there used to be on pages in comics.

Without question, comics from this era were technically published before I started buying single issues, but that doesn’t mean that these issues didn’t kickstart a sense of nostalgia for the old UK reprint magazines that I first came across this arc in. The first issue felt oddly familiar, but beyond that…? It was pure 90’s joy.

After all, 90’s comics aren’t bad. There’s just a huge number of them in longboxes across the country because so many were printed. That just makes them worth less than the comics from the 70’s and 80’s, but it doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading.

“If mankind waited for the ‘right time’ to address the winds of change it’s unlikely we’d ever have crawled from the primordial ooze.”

Scott Lobdell, Uncanny X-Men #294

I don’t know if I had forgotten about the amount of times characters within X-Men comics in the 90’s spouted pearls of wisdom, but I was less than halfway through this first part of X-Cutioners Song and I already had enough one liners to make me sound like I a semi professional couch philosopher thanks entirely to the less than subtle messaging. Messaging that seems just as relevant today as it ever did (and I’m sure we’d all hoped that would be different).

The main plot of X-Cutioner’s Song isn’t fully revealed in the first issue, but there is more than enough information here to reel you in hook line and sinker. The crossover cost me less than $20 to put together, and it was worth every penny to do so – not only because of the nostalgia factor, but primarily because this is a damn good story that holds up today (even the funky fashion choices for the street clothes the X-Men wear don’t detract too much).

With any story crossing over four series, the creative team is, as expected, pretty hefty. There are names that at the time were relatively new faces to the X-Men, but now… well now we consider them as creators who have made significant contributions to the comicsphere, frequently drawing large crowds at conventions;

  • Writers: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza and Peter David.
  • Pencillers: Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee and Greg Capullo
  • Inkers: Terry Austin, Mark Pennington, Al Milgrom and Harry Candelario
  • Colorists: Mike Thomas, Marie Javins, Glynis Oliver, Joe Rosas and Steve Buccellato.

But despite the big names, the characters and import associated with the story, it’s an arc that can easily get overlooked when when you’re looking in the longboxes because the story came in the early 90’s, before the big bust in the comics market. Despite having heard a little about it over the years, largely through comments in UK reprints, I had never actually read the book before. Something I was more than happy to do with a story that is far more Underrated than I ever expected.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior.



wotewJust under a year and a half aog, Valiant Entertainment released a deluxe hardcover edition collecting the entire 14 issue run of Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior along with Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1. Fifteen comics presented in an over-sized hardcover along with 20 odd pages of bonus extras that add a lot for  those interested in the process of the creation of the series, all for $49.99. And yes, I did buy this myself (and happily so) despite having access to the review copies and single issues I had picked up when released.

This series remains one of my all time favourites, so getting a chance to read it all in one spot was something I couldn’t pass up.

But despite this being one of my all time greats, it wasn’t until about the midway point that I fell for the series. Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior didn’t start out as a series that wowed me. The first four issues seemed to struggle with pacing and the art style, especially given the series billing as a follow-up to the explosively exciting Book Of Death miniseries that (spoiler) ended in the Eternal Warrior’s death. It’s that death, and those that follow, that form the crux of the series, but without the first four issues you don’t realize the toll taken on the Eternal Warrior with each death and resurrection cycle. The comics that I felt struggled with pacing quickly became some of the most important ground-setting in modern comics – a lesson that I took to heart, and quickly so.

Comics, like all stories, need time to breath.

It would also be fair to say that the art team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin were not immediately to my taste. In furtherance to that, it would also be fair to say that my taste quickly changed as the series progressed and the elegance and artistic genius of the husband and wife team gave me a new appreciation of the majesty of sequential art.  There are other artists who contribute to the series, all with a fantastic level of talent; it’s these contributions that give the series the honour of being one of the most visually stunning and diverse pieces of sequential art published by Valiant.

Robert Venditti has written some incredible comics in his time, but one of the finest examples of his work comes in the fourteen issue run of Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior. Taking you on a journey through history,  across continents and beyond death, Venditti weaves an incredibly deep tale that reveals a different layer upon each subsequent reading.

It’s also violent as all hell in places, which should satisfy the need we have for a bit of blood and conflict in our comics, but there’s also a deep emotional story here that cannot – and should not – go ignored. The Eternal Warrior is an ancient being, and his life has not always been sunshine and roses – but he still picks himself up and dusts himself off.

Isn’t there a saying that’s roughly it isn’t how many times we fall, but how many times we pick ourselves up?

Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior is a fantastic series, and I envy those of you who get to read the entire thing in one sitting; the deluxe hardcover is worth picking up for that series alone, which is why I haven’t mentioned Eternal Warrior: Awakening at any point in this week’s column because that’s the cherry on top of the fantastic main course. Mixed metaphors aside, Awakening is another really good comic, and serves as another nice bonus for those who buy the collection.

I’ll  make no secret of my abject love for this series, indeed the fact I own both the individual issues and the deluxe hardcover when I also have access to the review copies should hopefully speak volumes to that love. It’s a love that I genuinely believe you’ll share when you give the series a chance – it’s an underrated gem.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Imperium

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book Imperium


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. Until very recently, I had not read Imperium. While I have had access to the review copies for years, I had long decided that I would rather read the story in print form so I was waiting to pick up the deluxe hard cover edition of Imperium from my LCS. A couple weeks ago, I finally ordered it.

It cost me $65 before taxes and it was worth every penny.

There are easy comparisons to make between the Harbinger story and that of the X-Men, between Toyo Harada and Magneto; an incredibly powerful man who wants peace at any cost. The truth is when I was reading the book there are obvious similarities to the X-Books. Especially now that the X-Men have their own nation state, which is where Imperium finds Toyo Harada and his Foundation.

Joshua Dysart pulls the sixteen issue story in from various places in the Valiant universe, touching upon characters that will be familiar if you have read the previous Harbinger run that I spoke about (again) last week. If you haven’t read those books it shouldn’t be a big deal – the story is told in a way that it can be read alone, but you’ll miss out on some context here and there (and a great build up) if you skip what came before.

Watching Harada build his nation state free of scarcity while fighting the countries that are trying to stop him over the course of sixteen issues is fascinating. We watch him take some extraordinary measures to ensure that he is left alone, and we wonder whether the man is truly as philanthropic and good as his ideal seems or is he as self serving as he sometimes appears?

Although the book is told from Harada’s perspective Dysart never quite leaves you confident that you should be rooting exclusively for him. Should he be stopped? Or does his means justify the ends?

What makes this such a great story is that Dysart has balanced the antagonists so well that nobody seems to be explicitly evil aside from a certain corporation out exclusively for profit, which illustrates the nobility behind Harada’s ideal while underscoring the capitalist nature of our society. There are so many different aspects to this story; the concept of artificial intelligence becoming sentient, does anybody ever truly have free will, the balance of sacrifice for progression of the greater good. What devils do you have to make a deal with?

When it comes to everybody else in this book you have to wonder whether you should root for anyone.

Joshua Dysart’s writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics. That sentence was as true for Harbinger as it is for Imperium. He has a unique ability to distill a greater political and ideological idea down into a story that will never overwhelm a reader but also leaves you thinking about the nature of the politics involved long after the cover has been closed.

Whether this story is one told from the villain’s perspective as he tries to achieve his goals having convinced his followers they are doing the right thing or if it is story about a hero who faces insurmountable odds as he tries to make the world a better place will differ on how you read the book.

And that, for me, makes it an utter masterpiece.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had long heard how brilliant the story was from others who have read the book so I ended up reading the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics or Toyo Harada. I hope that changes. Especially after the last week with the publisher focusing on the character this week.

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