Category Archives: Underrated

So Who Are The Best Spider-Man Movie Villains?

We’re taking a break from Underrated this week because sometimes a thought comes to you that you can’t quite shake, and this is one of them. Was Topher Grace as shitty as a shitty thing? Has Michael Keaton stolen his way to the top spot? Join me as I take a completely unobjective look back at the last twenty odd years of Spider-Man movies and proceed to rank the villains in a completely serious and professional manner.

Yeah, I’m being a wee bit sarcastic. This entire list is based on my opinion and nothing more.

Anyway. These villains have all appeared in one of the live action movies from Spider-Man right up until Spider-Man Homecoming, and this post will contain spoilers for all of these movies to some degree (though I’ll try to limit the  Homecoming specific ones). I’ve deliberately avoided villains that appear as cameo appearances (such as Rhino is ASM2 because they’re not exactly fleshed out enough to be more than scenery).

In reverse order:

venom_grace.jpgNine: Topher Grace as Venom (Spider-Man 3)
Did you really expect anybody else to hover around here? I mean… I’m already willing to say that Tom Hardy is a better Venom than Topher Grace – and they haven’t started filming that movie yet. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, save yourself the trouble. Grace was horribly miscast, and  has taken some serious flack for his role in what is widely considered the weakest movie in the franchise.

franco goblin.jpgEight: James Franco as New Goblin (Spider-Man 3)
What was the point? Honestly? What was the bloody point. If even you want to see a film waste the potential of an actor who could have carried the movie as the main villain, then this is it. Harry Osborne’s arc seems to have a rushed conclusion as he the butler confesses the truth after years of watching Harry tear himself apart… the potential for a great showdown was wasted in the same movie that turned Venom into a joke. The New Goblin could have been a fantastic foil to Spider-Man, as evidenced by the rooftop fight, and their verbal sparring throughout… but alas it was not to be.

dehaan goblin.gifSeven: Dane Dehaan as Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man 2)
It’s not that Dane Dehaan was a bad actor, but his Green Goblin paled in comparison to Willem Dafoe’s, and every bugger who saw the movie was painfully aware of that. The threat level seemed forced, and the character was much more sinister as Harry Osborne just before he cracked into the Goblin than at any point after the transformation – which is why he edged Franco here.

Electro-Spider-ManSix: Jamie Foxx as Electro (Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Another character where the actor wasn’t bad, indeed Foxx’s performance was really interesting, and by having the character’s insecurities play off against Spider-Man’s confidence allowed the hero/villain relationship to take a direction that we hadn’t seen in a Spider-Man movie before. Personally, I wasn’t fond of the look of the character, but I enjoyed Foxx’s performance.

Thomas_Haden_Church_Spider-Man_3.jpgFive: Thomas Haden Church as Sandman (Spider-Man 3)
Perhaps  the one redeeming villainous performance in this movie came at the gritty hands of Flint Marko, played by Thoma Haden Church. Sandman became an oddly sympathetic character doing the wrong things for the right reasons who ended up a victim of the plot more than the performance; it was a decent, almost Batman 66 style  performance in a movie that was trying to be too edgy. The two just didn’t quite go together.

rhys-ifans-the-lizard.jpgFour: Rhys Ifans as The Lizard (Amazing Spider-Man) Alright so the computer generated face wasn’t exactly as comic accurate as a lot of us would hope, and the sense of menace wasn’t exactly there, but Ifans’ Lizard isn’t bad… but it’s not great either.

dafoe goblin.PNGThree: Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin (Spider-Man) And here’s where the jump from the fourth spot to the third spot seems to be an image and a text break, but in reality it’s a lot larger. Willem Dafoe embodied everything you could ever want in a comic book movie villain, from his elastic facial expressions to the genuinely psychopathic gleam in his eyes. Whether he was Norman Osborne or the Green Goblin, Dafoe exuded a sense of menace that left viewers at the time feeling a genuine sense of unease. Shame about the costume, though.

vulture keaton.jpgTwo: Michael Keaton as the Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
If you haven’t seen this movie, then this won’t spoil anything. Keaton does the unthinable and makes the Vulture feel like a genuine, credible threat; he’s sinister when he needs to be, charming when he needs to be and has a screen dominating presence that will have you wanting so much more from Keaton and his Vulture. After only seeing this movie once, I was stunned that I was watching a performance as rich as I was, and I think there’s a genuine possibility that in a couple of years the Vulture will have stolen the top spot – as it is, he’s easily one of the best comic book movie villains, but he just wasn’t quite as good as….

molina doc ock.jpgOne: Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (Spider-Man 2)
For my money, this is not only the definitive portrayal of Doc Ock, but also one of the best antagonists in any superhero movie. Molina was able to make you care about Octavious, by giving a phenomenal performance as a sympathetic accidental villain that has yet to be equaled in any Spider-Man movie since.

raimi spiderman.jpgBonus: Sam Raimi as The Director (Spider-Man 3)
The only explanation I can think of for the massive drop off in quality from Spider-Man 2 to Spider-Man 3 is that Sam Raimi had cast himself in an absurdly meta role where,  at the behest of his evil employers, The Studio (also under the control of the symbiote, possibly?) he created the antithesis of his Spider-Man 2 masterpiece: a movie of such horrifically bad scenes that weren’t bad enough for the movie to become a cult classic Bad Movie, and instead they took a middling movie that had some bright spots down into the nether regions of the franchise. This was a well-played joke, right? Right…?


Underrated will return next week!

Underrated: Comic Book Contributors – Letterers

This week’s Underrated originally ran on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan in October 2015

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:  Letterers.


When it comes to the names attached to comics usually you know who the writer and artist is, whether that’s because of previews, or even just general talk around the Internets water cooler or your local comic shop. Recently I’ve noticed that  there are some very good comic book contributors that don’t get the same level of attention as those who write or draw the comics, such as the letterers.

A few things before we start; firstly, there is no way I’ll ever be able to list every talented letterer out there. Just no way. Secondly, if you take nothing else from this post, at least be aware of just how much these contributors add to a comic when we barely notice them. Thirdly this post will only contain a select few examples of some great work from comics released within the not too distant past, or stories that should be easy to find in trade format. It is not meant to be an exhaustive, or complete, list of great lettering, and there will only be a select few examples here (and even then, only covers).

Because, frankly, if I tried to do that I would miss too many.

DC‘s Batman #44, was probably the best comic featuring Batman I’ve read that was released this year, the art was batman-44-coverprovided by guest artist Jock (with Lee Loughbridge providing the colours). Batman #44 is an example of the creative team firing on all cylinders, which is especially  evident by the stellar work of Deron Bennett. It is the lettering that pulls in elements of the story, merging with the art and colours to give readers one of the best Batman comics, at least visually, in the last two years. I mentioned this comic last week when talking about colourists, but it also fits so well as an example of great lettering that I couldn’t avoid reusing it as an example. Not only does the lettering highlight the story, but it guides you eye effortlessly along when reading the comic.

And that brings us to another point.

Letterers are often overlooked because their work can be so integral to a comic that you often don’t even notice how effective it is. Indeed, when a letterer does their job well you don’t notice how easy it is to read along with the comic. A good letterer is able to place the speech and thought bubbles in a way that guides the eye through the art, using narration text to really highlight certain areas with careful placement. We spend just as much time looking at the text as we do the art, but (and I’m just as guilty of this as anybody else) we don’t usually give as much care when it comes to who placed it there, as opposed to who originally wrote the words.

Next time you read a comic, pay attention to just how different the pages would be if the text had been placed over a different area of the artwork, or the words are in an almost unreadable font. A comic may have some top notch art and a great story, but if you can’t read that story very well then you can’t really enjoy it.


There we have it – an all too brief homage to an underrated art form that can sometimes make, or break, a comic. Are there other contributors to comic that are also underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

For that reason expect a third or fourth part to this post in the future. In the meantime, Underrated will probably return next week to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

Underrated: Comic Book Contributors – Colourists

This week’s Underrated originally ran on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan in October 2015

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:  Colourists.



When it comes to the names attached to comics usually you know who the writer and artist is, whether that’s because of previews, or even just general talk around the Internets water cooler or your local comic shop. Recently I’ve noticed that  there are some very good comic book contributors that don’t get the same level of attention as those who write or draw the comics, such as the colourists.

A few things before we start; firstly, there is no way I’ll ever be able to list every talented colourist out there. Just no way. Secondly, if you take nothing else from this post, at least be aware of just how much colourists add to a comic. Thirdly this post will only contain a select few examples of some great colouring work from comics released within the not too distant past, or stories that should be easy to find in trade format. It is not meant to be an exhaustive, or complete, list of great colourists, and there will only be a select few examples here (and even then, only covers).

Because, frankly, if I tried to do that I would miss too many.

Sometimes a colourist can make an already great comic book into something that’s truly a work of art, where the same rai11ccomic in black and white would feel incomplete, hampering the enjoyment of the reader. As an example of this, take a look at the work of Clayton Crane: Rai #10 and #11 from Valiant. Although Rai may not be your cup of tea story wise – an android samurai from the year 4001, but you cannot deny that the artwork of Clayton Crane is something special here. He does full duties here, but it’s the colouring that really helps this comic stand above the others. The story in the two issues I mentioned takes place between a utopia and a barren planet, and just look at the way the colours allow you to tell which is which without even thinking about it.

ztcThe thing is, colourists are almost always unappreciated, but if it weren’t for their contributions to a comic some scenes would be borderline unintelligible.Zachariah Thorn‘s Robert Reichert is an example of this. The opening scene from Indigo Comics first publication has a brilliant dreamlike quality to it that would fall completely flat if not for the way the colouring brings out the detail (if you want to check it out, you can read it for free at their website.

There are occasions where the colourist will capture the feel of the comic so well that it’sbatman-44-cover almost uncanny. Lee Loughbridge did just that in DC‘s Batman #44. In what was probably the best comic featuring Batman released this year (certainly that I have read), the art was provided by guest artist Jock, and as talented as Jock is, it’s the colours that really make his artwork shine elevating the comic to the next level (although credit should also go to letterer Deron Bennett, too, but that’s another post for another day). Batman #44 is an example of the creative team firing on all cylinders, so it can be easy to overlook  the at times minimalist colouring work.

And that brings us to another point.

Colourists are often overlooked because their work can be so integral to a comic that you often don’t even notice how great it is. Now I’m not intending to say anything negative about black and white comics here, some of the best comics I’ve read are black and white, but there’s a difference between an intentionally black and white comic and one that’s missing the colour (Maus is an excellent example of a black and white comic that would probably not work quite as well if it had colours added). In a time when adult colouring books are seeing a stratospheric rise in popularity as people use them as a relaxaton method, maybe it’s time we stop taking the work of a comic book colourist for granted.


There we have it – an all too brief homage to an underrated art form that can sometimes make, or break, a comic. Are there other contributors to comic that are also underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

For that reason expect a second or third part to this post in the future. In the meantime, Underrated will probably return next week to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

Underrated: Comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for June

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: Comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for June.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for May’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

 

mother russia 1Mother Russia #1 (Alterna)
June Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 361 /3,298
Alterna’s range of newsprint comics have been a fantastic addition to my pull list, with the stories on offer crossing numerous different genres and styles, and each one easily being worth the price of admission. Mother Russia is set toward the end of the second World War and stars a Russian sniper as she faces off against hordes of zombies to save a child. For a buck and a half, you really can’t go wrong with this gem.

Catalyst Prime Accell #1 (Lion Forge)
June Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 347 /3,644
A rather unique take on the whole speedster idea where Accell doesn’t speed up like characters such as the Flash and Quicksilver, but rather can move faster than thought for a limited time… and when he slows down all the injuries he would have sustained catch up to him. As a take on a speedster, it’s fun and a fresh character that you can’t help but want more of.

Pestilence #2 (Aftershock)
June Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 253 /7,056
A medieval zombie series that reimagines the Black Plague as something with a little more shuffling and biting. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

SW_002_COVER-B_SAUVAGESecret Weapons #1 (Valiant)
June Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 125 /21,938
An offbeat series about a group of rejects with powers that are basically useless (think turning your skin into a statue like hardness… but then being unable to move, just like a literal statue) have to band together in order to face off against a killer who is much better equipped to take them down. Beyond this, the sense of camaraderie and family among the rejects echoes back to the early X-Men comics; this miniseries did better in the sales charts than I expected, but it’s still an underrated gem.

 


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: The Amazing Spider-Man

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 Amazing Spiderman


amazing-spider-man-movie-posterToday I wanted to talk about the first reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise from waaaaaaaay back in 2012. After the Sam Raimi trilogy which, lets be honest, didn’t exactly end on a high note, Sony would eventually decide to relaunch the Spider-Man movie franchise, and it’s the result of that reboot that I wanted to talk about today.

If you’re surprised that this is the movie we’re focusing on today, then you may have missed that the Marvel Studios/Sony collaboration Spider-Man Homecoming is in theaters  (and the MCU!) now; and you may also have been unaware of the amount of people who are now complaining about this movie (or maybe that’s just the people I hang out with?) – or you may have never really enjoyed this movie. But regardless of where you sit, I’ve always really enjoyed this movie, and feel that it’s stronger than a lot of people give it credit.

Why? To the bullet points!

The chemistry between the leads
One of the strongest aspects of the Amazing franchise is the relationship between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. Their interactions on screen approach poetry in some scenes, and without a doubt these two actors elevate the film beyond what a typical pair of romantic leads can do.

 Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man
Garfield may have been to cool to genuinely pull off a nerdy Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man was top notch; his boundless energy and fast mouth was unlike anything we had seen before in live action, and Garfield pulled it off spectacularly. This was a Spider-Man whose failures were a palpable weight on his spandex clad shoulders, and in the quiet moments throughout the movie you can genuinely sense that through Garfield’s body language.

 The webswinging
The effects team did a wonderful job guiding Spider-Man’s journey through the skies in what is, for my money, the most realistic depiction of a man flying through the air on super strong glue to date.

 The costume
I’m kidding. I wasn’t exactly fond of this movie’s Spider-Man look.

 The lack of the actual words “With great power there must also come great responsibility”
I know this is probably a contentious point to make, but loved that Peter learned this lesson throughout the film without having the quote used just for the audience who feel they must hear those words in the movie. It was far more powerful for Peter to learn it through his actions and reactions than have the lesson spelled out in what could have been an awkward and stilted scene. Plus, it lent a much heavier weight to Uncle Ben’s voice message at the end.

There are quite a few aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man that I thoroughly enjoyed, more than I should probably talk about in this article, but I’m aware that this isn’t a flawless movie – it’s not even the best Spider-Man movie- that honour is reserved for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Yes, The Amazing Spider-Man  did have its issues; the Lizard wasn’t the most compelling villain, and his design was somewhat weak, but he isn’t the weakest in any of the Spider-Man movies (Topher Grace a Venom will hold that title for quite some time). His rationale is still just understandable enough when you break it down for yourself, but you do need to be aware of his misguided, yet deeply hidden altruistic thought process. And only a few years removed from Spider-Man 3, did we really need to see Uncle Ben die again? Not really.

I’m aware that it had it’s problems, but I don’t care; I love it anyway.

 


There we have it. Are there other comic book related stuff out there that is, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

Because of that, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is. In the meantime, though, if you do get a chance check out the characters in thisUnderrated, then you may need to hunt through the back issue bins for some, but others do have some stories collected in trades.

Until next time!

Underrated: Patriotic Heroes

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: Patriotic Heroes


This week has both the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays, and or those who don’t know, the two days celebrate the birth of Canada and the USA respectively. Perhaps one of the biggest holidays in their respective country. For that reason this edition of Underrated will spotlight some flag wearing heroes from a few different publishers that perhaps aren’t as well known, or as recognizable, as Captain America.

I make no claims that this will be a complete list, in fact it features characters almost entirely from Canada, U.S.A. and the U.K.

Union JackUNION_JACK_1

Britain’s other flag clad hero from Marvel Comics. There have been three men to call them selves Union Jack, a father and son during the first and second World Wars, and the current Union Jack, Joseph Chapman. Click the above link for a longer run down of the character that’s position as the Working Man’s Hero.  Union Jack has a rich history as a member of the Invaders during World War Two (both Union Jack I and II), and even the revived modern day Invaders from the 2008 run (Union Jack III). I am partial to the character, and would urge you to check out the two trades collecting his 1999 mini series, and the more recent one from 2012.

Jack Staffjackstaff

A character published primarily in the UK, Paul Grist created Jack Staff based on a rejected story which he had written to make use of Marvel’s Union Jack. After the rejection, he rewrote the story to create more of a self-contained original comic that was published through Dancing Elephant Press (owned by Paul Grist). Twelve black and white issues later, the comic was restarted in colour at  Image Comics.

GuardianGuardian-marvel

Perhaps one of the few heroes on the list that is recognizable to most people,  Guardian first appearing in Uncanny X-Men #109 from 1978,  he was intended to be the Canadian equivalent of Captain America, hence the Canadian flag costume.  Guardian has played a significant role in Wolverine’s history -from the early  X-Men comics in which the Canadian Government tried to recall Wolverine  to Alpha Fight (a team led by Guardian), to having later been the man who helped Wolverine recover his humanity after the Weapon X Program grafted the metal to his bones.

canuckCaptain Canuck

Comely Comics Canadian hero is the current star of a new ongoing series that’s worth checking out. Click the link above for some more information on the Canadian flag wearing hero that predates Marvel’s Guardian by several years. His current on going series from Chapterhouse is fantastic, having gone from strength to strength over the last year and change.

Jack Flagjackflag

First appearing in 1994 Captain America #434. Inspired to don the costume because of Captain America, Jack Flag was most recently seen in comics as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s unlikely he’ll appear in the movies anytime soon, however, seeing as how he was most recently seen flying out of an aircraft.

 shieldThe Shield

Perhaps the only flag clad hero to predate Captain America, the Shield first appeared in Pep Comics #1 which was cover dated January 1940. Created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick, there have been five different incarnations of the character since his debut, the current iteration of the hero has been published by Archie Comics’ Dark Circle Comics imprint since 2005 and features Victoria Adams as The Shield.

Uncle SamUncle_Sam_BNW_1

You recognize Uncle Sam, right?  Created by Will Eisner, he first appeared in National Comics #1cover dated July of 1940 predating Captain America by several months. This iteration of the character lasted for four years, before DC acquired the license  to print his stories and revived him during the 70’s. Although not a flag wearing hero, Uncle Same is intrinsically linked to the level of belief people have in the idea of America, making him one of the most patriotic heroes on this list.


There we have it – a small selection of underrated flag wearing comic book heroes. Are there other comic book related stuff out there that is, for whatever reason, underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

Because of that, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is. In the meantime, though, if you do get a chance check out the characters in thisUnderrated, then you may need to hunt through the back issue bins for some, but others do have some stories collected in trades.

Until next time!

Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For May

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: Comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for May.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for May’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

 

croak 1.jpgCroak #1 (Alterna)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 424 /2,906
Alterna’s range of newsprint comics have been a fantastic addition to my pull list, with the stories on offer crossing numerous different genres and styles, and each one easily being worth the price of admission. Croak is a fantastic little horror tale that’ dripping atmosphere from every panel – if horror isn’t your thing, I’d still recommend you give this a shot. It’s more a thriller/psychological horror style of comic, and one that benefits from the newsprint adding a murky, retro feel to the art. I’m a big fan of the newsprint idea, and thankfully this comic lives up to the promise.

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #4 (Black Mask)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 263 /6,706
There have been some significant delays surrounding this series, which is a genuine shame because the momentum the series had been gathering seems to have dissipated a little bit, but if you can find the individual issues then this is a series that’s going to take you on quite an unexpectedly brilliant ride.

TMNT #69 (IDW)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 169 /13,726
Ninja Turtles fan? You’ll love this. It’s a brilliant series that has been quietly chugging along for nearly seventy issues for a good reason.

XO2017_003_COVER-B_ROCAFORTX-O Manowar #3 (Valiant)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 152 /16,002
Perhaps my most loved on going series right now, X-O Manowar can be best described as Space Conan. Every issue is a joy to read and experience. Seriously I can’t express just how great a series this has been over the last few issues, and Matt Kindt’s reluctant-soldier story meshes really well with the phenomenal artwork of Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez give an almost effervescent quality to the pages in your hands. Quite simply, this series is one you have to check out.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Batman ’66

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: Batman ’66.


I’m sure you’re aware by now that Adam West passed away last week after a brief battle with leukemia at the age of 88. His death got me thinking about the impact of the show, and the steps it made back in the 60’s that we may over look today in light of the darker direction Batman has taken since. To that extent here are, in my opinion at least, five things about the show that we may overlook – if you think I’ve missed something, you’re right, but I’ll be revisiting this in the future.

  • Adam West’s deadpan delivery.
    I could list so many brilliant one liners that came from Adam West, or I could send you to this page, but two of my favourites are:
    “I wish we could help you, citizen, but we’re just a couple of ordinary crime-fighters going about our mundane business.”
    “Robin: “Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?”
    Batman: “The true crime-fighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”
    Out of context, I find them even funnier.
  • Pow! Bop! Biff! batman-and-robin-opening-credit2
    The on-screen sound effects were fantastic when we first saw them, and they’ve rightly earned their place in pop culture today. So what are they doing here? It’s the secondary function they served that impressed me the most; by appearing on the screen just before a hit connected, it allowed the actors to be a little safer when fighting each other as they didn’t run the risk of getting a fist to the face. Plus it was one of the best opening credits in any TV show (I still think that it holds up)
  • The show’s influence on the comics.
    I don’t mean the obvious way the tone of the comics changed as a result of the series influence (granted some may not think that was a good thing), but rather the way that the show cemented certain characters as Batman’s core rogues gallery at a time when they weren’t as prevalent in the comics. The Riddler appeared on the television show for the first time in a decade’s absence from the comics, as did Catwoman and Mr. Freeze. Geekscape has an interesting article if you’d like to read more on this.1966+Adam+West+Car.jpg
  • The Batmobile
    Seriously, look at this thing. This is still a fantastic car to this day (you’d drive it. You know you would), but it kick started fandom’s love of having an awesome Batmobile. Do you remember what the Batmobile looked like before the TV show? No. Because it wasn’t that cool.
  • Bill Finger’s last Batman story
    Batman co-creator Bill Finger co-wrote the two part episode “The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned” for the second season of the show, which aired October 12–13, 1966. It was the last time he wrote a story featuring his creation.
  • The cast
    Would the show have worked without Adam West? Maybe. But when you look at the way he carried himself on the show, his delivery and his physique (he had said numerous times that he didn’t need rubber molding, that was “all Adam West”) then you couldn’t have asked for a better man to have a lasting cultural impact as the Batman. In the past 60 years, no other actor has been viewed in such a synonymous way with the role of the caped crusader (the cynical ones will be saying “well that’s because he didn’t do much else!” And to those I show a swift middle finger. West is a legend). But Adam West wasn’t the only star of the show; I don’t remember a character played by a bad actor on the show. Yes, some of  them may have hammed it up a little, but that’s what the show demanded of them and holy cow did they deliver.

I could go on about this show for days, but this article is due out in half an hour, and I should probably make sure it’s not late.

Underrated: Superhero Comics (That Aren’t A Marvel Or DC Comic)

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: Superhero Comics (That aren’t a Marvel or DC comic).




This week I wanted to talk about some fantastic superhero comics from publishers that aren’t either Marvel or DC so that you can, if you so choose, branch out a little for your spandex fix. There will be some series here that have ended, and some that are still ongoing. A few things before we start; firstly, the only rule for these characters to be included here are that they’re not from Marvel or DC. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these comics may not be for everybody, so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

invincibleShall we get started, in no particular order?

Invincible (Image) Created by Robert Kirkman (the same man responsible for The Walking Dead) and artist Cory Walker, Invincible is good. It’s very good. The titular hero Invincible is an extraterrestrial teenager with super strength and the ability to fly, born of an alien father and a human mother. Invincible is an incredibly brutal comic that takes the Superman mythos and adds a dash of Spider-Man and a whole lot of awesome. Absolutely worth checking out.

Irredeemable & Incorruptible.jpgIrredeemable/Incorruptible (BOOM)  Written by Mark Waid, Irredeemable asks the question: what if Superman snapped? It’s a grim, dark tale that explains how thankful we should be that Clark Kent is as well adjusted as he is. Conversely Incorruptible follows the worlds’ greatest supervillain as he he realizes that somebody has to be a hero. But he has no moral compass, and so for him doing the right thing means doing exactly the opposite of what he did. Both are fantastic series that have been collected in trade paper backs, and you should read them alternately if you do pick them up to get the most from the story.

COWLTPB001_webC.O.W.L. (Image) I’ve raved about C.O.W.L. loudly before. And whilst the series has ended (for now), it’s still work check out. Set during the 1960’s in Chicago, C.O.W.L. a creator owned comic published by Image and written by Kyle Higgins weaves a complex story that follows the Chicago Organized Workers League, and is set against some fantastic art work. Without giving anything away, this is a comic that focuses as much on the political intrigue of superheroing for hire as it does the superheroes themselves. Higgins explores some really interesting questions here, chief of which is “what if superheroes are unionized?” This series was cancelled long before its time

XO2017_001_COVER-A_LAROSAX-O Manowar (Valiant) The current series is the second volume in Valiant’s X-O Manowar saga (that’s a fancy way of saying that it’s the second volume with a new number one issue and the last series concluded at #50). Whether you start with the first volume, or the second, you’re in for a treat – and yes, you can read the second independently of the first.  The lead character of the series is a time displaced Visigoth named Aric of Dacia (or of Earth in Vol. 2) who has somehow come into possession of a (very interesting looking) alien armour. It’s an awesome series, and one well worth checking out. The second, and currently ongoing series, is the highlight of my pull-list every month.

TheFox_01-0The Fox (Dark Circle Comics) When a superhero desperately wants to stop running around in spandex, to retire to a quiet life with his family, do you have any idea how difficult that is when he seems to attract freaks like a magnet? Written by Mark Waid,  the second volume, Fox Hunt, came to a cataclysmic conclusion. There is a trade paper back collecting the first series entitled The Fox: Freak Magnet, but you don’t need to read it to appreciate the second series. I miss this series so much.


That’s all for this week, folks. I could keep this list going quite a bit longer, but I’ll save that for another time.

Have a great week!

Underrated: Indie Publishers

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: Indie Publishers.


I’m defining Indie Publishers as having less than two percent market share from the month of April according to Diamond, and obviously doesn’t take into account any digital sales. If you didn’t click the link, that precludes Boom, IDW, Dark Horse, and Image from the list (Marvel and DC, obviously, go without saying). The list will be in alphabetical order so my biases toward certain publishers aren’t as evident in the ordering of the list.

croak1Alterna Comics
I’ve been raving about Alterna’s Bring Back Newsprint movement on twitter for the last week or so after I finally got around to reading their newsprint offerings fairly recently (the fourth, not mentioned here, is Lillith Dark, a charmingly innocent tale about a young girl with an active imagination) after I picked them up based solely on the price point – at $1.50 I figured I really couldn’t go wrong. The newsprint comics may have turned me on to Alterna, but after a little research I signed up for their news letter and received an email with 30 free comics included that’s not a typo – your get thirty free digital comics upon signing up for their email newsletter (this was true as of 6/1/2017; it may be different depending on when you read this), and you really can’t argue with that.
Titles To Check Out: Any of the Newsprint comics (Croak and Adam Wreck were my standouts from the first batch).

Oni Press
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t give Oni Press the credit they deserve. Whenever I do pick up an Oni title, I frequently find myself wondering why I don’t read more of them.
Titles To Check Out: Redline, Scott Pilgrim & The Sixth Gun

Self Made Hero
A British publisher that specializes in graphic novels, what I have been able to get my hands on from Self Made Hero has without exception been utterly captivating. If you like to branch away from superheroes, then this is a company that you need to check out, and your best bet would be your favourite online retailer.
Titles To Check Out: Fun & Return Of The Honey Buzzard.

vile1Study Group Comics
Home of Tyler Landry’s stream of consciousness style of story telling, this is a gold mine of inventive storytellers, writers and artists that produce some truly exciting and exhilirating work. Landry’s Vile has produced two of my favourite horror stories in comic form, and his sparse use of colour on the black paper is incredibly well suited to the genre. It’s exciting stuff, and you’ve probably not read it. You need to fix that.
Titles To Check Out: Vile & Titan

Valiant Comics
Valiant are, hands down, the publisher that gets me most excited about superhero comics – especially ones set in a shared universe. I don’t love everything Valiant have published, but on the whole I tend to enjoy their stuff so much more than anything from Marvel or DC.
Titles To Check Out: X-O Manowar, Faith, and Divinity


There we have it folks. An incomplete list taking a look at some underrated indie publishers. I’ll see you next week!

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