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

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: Great comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for March


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 (although there may be a future Underrated on specific publishers in the future, that’s not the point of this one).

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like in the past, so you may see some recurring series month to month, although I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.

The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for Marchs comic sales, according to Comichron., which is why they’re Underrated.

 

voracius feeding time 4Voracious: Feeding Time #4 (Action Lab)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second volume will be coming in May, although you could also go hunting for back issues. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now, and it is a criminally underread series. There’s a reason I push this on as many people as I do, both online and offline, and that’s because it’s fucking amazing.

Ninjak #25 (Valiant)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 275 /5,763

Even though there are several elements of the character that I love (namely the fusion of James Bond and Batman), I’ll admit that up until recently I wasn’t a huge fan of Ninjak’s solo book; it had it’s moments, but the comic never pulled itself out of being a good comic into the truly great levels until the 23rd issue (for me, anyway – there are those who have long felt it was great). As of this writing the 26th issue has also been published, which is the final issue in the current run, so you may be wondering what I’m thinking by pointing you toward this series now, and I’ll tell you: tradepaper backs.

redline-1Redline #1 (Onipress)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 220 /8,040

The series that blends space travel (more specifically living on a colony on Mars) with a hardboiled detective story that’s so much more nuanced then I can adequately convey in a shot blurb. Redline may seem crass and bloody, and it is, but beyond that is where you’ll find one of the most interesting and well written stories from Onipress I’ve ever read. If you have even a passing interest in life on another planet, or a sci-fi detective story then pick this up.

The Flintstones #9 (DC)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #208 /9,213

You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a pretty, but shallow, series about an old 60’s cartoon based purely on the name and covers of the nine issues we’ve seen from DC, and you’d be about half right. The Flintstones is a pretty comic about characters who debuted in the 60’s, but it’s far from being a shallow comic. This is a series that will make you think about the disposable lifestyle we currently enjoy, and how others suffer for that – it is, in short, one of the most well written comics out there that’s hidden behind a facade that too many people ignore.

grasskings_001_a_mainGrass Kings #1 (Boom!)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #168 /13,515


I’ll usually give anything Matt Kindt does at least a couple of issues before I either add it to my pull list or stop reading all together, but the first issue of this series about, for lack of a better phrase, an independent kingdom set within rural America piqued my interest pretty quickly. There’s a sense of something off lurking just beneath the surface in the Grass Kingdom, and the way that  Kindt is drip feeding us information makes for a compelling read.

God Country #3 (Image)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #156 /15,321


I’m writing this after having just finished reviewing the most recent issue, but through the magic of the internet and Graphic Policy’s schedule, you’ll read this a couple hours before the review goes live. I’ll go into detail as to why I love the series in that review so I don’t want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that I’m going to need to get the trade because I don’t want to wear my floppies out from reading them over and over again.


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.

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Preview: Zombie Tramp #34

ZOMBIE TRAMP #34

Writer(s): Dan Mendoza
Artist Name(s): Marco Maccagni
Cover Artist(s): Dan Mendoza (cover A – regular, B), Marco Maccagni (cover C-D), Marcelo Trom (cover E-F)
Cover A – Standard (unlimited): Dan Mendoza
Cover B – Risqué (limited to 2500): Dan Mendoza
Cover C – variant (limited to 2000): Marco Maccagni
Cover D – risqué variant (limited to 2500): Marco Maccagni
Cover E – artist variant (limited to 2000): Marcelo Trom
Cover F – artist risqué variant (limited to 2500): Marcelo Trom
32 pgs./ M / FC
$3.99 (reg.), $4.99 (var.)

Xula continues her tests and obstacles to prove her worthiness to Kaiju Queen. But will she accept her final challenge?

Features 3 regular and risqué variants, including a pair of covers by series creator Dan Mendoza (DollFace)!!

Preview: Brigands Vol. 1

BRIGANDS VOL. 1

Writer(s): Ram V
Artist Name(s): Nick Barber, Alex Diotto, Jason Lewis, ROSH, Kel Nuttall
Cover Artist(s): Mukesh Singh
160 pgs./ T+ / FC
$14.99
A rat-pack of medieval conmen, thieves, cut-throats, hasbeens and never-will-bes are set to carry out the heist of their lives. For some, it is a second chance at a better life. For others, it’s the only chance they’ll ever get. And in the treacherous world of BRIGANDS there are only two sureties to life; the steel in your hand and the promise of a dagger in your back.

Collects BRIGANDS #1-5.

Review: Voracious: Feeding Time #5

voracious Feeding Time CoverI’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes lately, frequently playing the bands two albums in sequential order for hours on end through my headphones as I plug away at the Day Job and then as I walk home. I’ve described their music as akin to a pissed off Foo Fighters, but that doesn’t begin to do the chugging, fast paced groove laden songs any justice – the music has connected with me in a way that I can’t quite comprehend, and after listening to the two albums hundreds of times over the past couple of months, I’m showing no signs of fatigue. The music won’t be for everybody, and I’m well aware of that, but for me the two albums presently released represent just over an hour of the finest slice of anger and melody recorded. 

After only spending a few months with the music, I know that I’ll enjoy it for years to come.

I can just as easily say the exact same thing about Voracious.

There’s something about this series that has just clicked for me; the elevator pitch is usually enough to sell anybody on the story (time travelling chef hunts dinosaurs to serve in his diner), but after two miniseries that pitch doesn’t begin to do the story justice – and nor can I in a spoiler free review, because it’s hard for me to believe that this issue represents only the second time that Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr have finished a comic book miniseries. I don’t remember the last time that I read a story arc from either Marvel or DC that was told this well or illustrated as wonderfully as the first two chapters in the Voracious trilogy. Muhr’s layouts in the opening of this comic are wonderful; with a textless first page he tells a story that a thousand words would struggle to tell – I was genuinely in awe when reading the review copy, and were it not for a Diamond Distribution snafu with my LCS I’d have been sat staring at the comic already.

I’m always impressed when a page is laid out in an interestingly inventive way, and the first page of this comic is simple in it’s elegance – yet it’s all the stronger for it. But not only is Muhr on top form, but colourist Andrei Tabacaru brings the already great artwork into the level of sheer beauty that you don’t see as often as you’d like. I would recommend you buy this comic for the art alone, but Naso delivers another flawless issue. Honestly, at this point I’d be surprised if he didn’t.

This series has constantly impressed me over the course of it’s nine issues, and if memory serves, I don’t think I have ever rated a series as high as I have Voracious.  

Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr reminded me of why I loved comics with the first miniseries, and with Feeding Time they have reminded me of just how good sequential art can be. If this is what these men can do on their first and second story arc, then the industry can expect some bloody brilliant things from them in the future.

If I read a better series this year, then I’ll be shocked. Voracious: Feeding Time has set the bar pretty bloody high.

Story: Markisan Naso Art: Jason Muhr Colourist: Andrei Tabacaru
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Policy was provided a FREE copy for review, but I will be purchasing this issue when my LCS gets it in, as well as the trade.

Review: Spencer and Locke #1

When his grade-school sweetheart is found dead, there’s only one friend Detective Locke can trust to help solve her murder – his childhood imaginary panther, Spencer. But when they face a vicious crime syndicate and memories from Locke’s traumatic youth, can this unlikely pair survive long enough to find the truth?

Take Calvin and Hobbes and mix it with Sin City (or really any noir crime story) and you get Spencer & Locke, the new series written by David Pepose with art by Jorge Santiago, Jr.

The first issue is a pretty standard noir story with a dead body and a Detective trying to solve it. But, where this one is unique is the fact that Detective Locke’s partner is Spencer, an imaginary panther from his childhood. That twist creates a unique addition to a genre that has had a lot of comic releases.

I found myself reading the first issue not just entertained by the murder mystery, but the interaction between Locke and Spencer, especially to see who Spencer interacts with and how. Pepose does a solid job of letting the readers learn as we go instead of spelling it out and he has lots of fun with it especially when expectations are broken which I know caught me off guard and kept me on my toes going forward. Pepose has clearly thought out his twist and it shows in every panel and scene that features our two main characters and how that plays out going forward will be what makes or breaks the series (and so far it absolutely makes it).

The art by Santiago, Jr. is key to that making everything believable in a sense that how Spencer and Locke are presented are key. That spatial focus is key for the series as it keeps us the readers on our toes trying to figure out it Spencer is make believe or if there’s something more there. In other words, you may need to show two characters when there’s only one in reality and when a third party is involved, that’s where things get interesting. Santiago, Jr. nails that aspect while infusing the atmosphere I’d expect from a crime/noir story.

Spencer & Locke has its twist and brings something new to a genre that while entertaining, needs something new to really stand out. Whether or not the murder mystery is interesting isn’t the draw for me going forward, it’s all about Spencer and Locke. Much like Calvin and Hobbes, how Spener and Locke interact is the heart of the series and has me counting down the days until I can read more.

Story: David Pepose Art: Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.40 Recommendation: Buy

Action Lab Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: Immortal Brothers: The Green Knight #1 (Valiant) – The Eternal Warrior has become one of my favourite characters, so this 48 page one-shot by Matt Kindt and Cary Nord that places him and his brothers in King Arthur’s court (another subject I’m very fond of) is going to rocket to the top of my pull list. I’ve been looking forward to this for months.

Old Man Logan #21 (Marvel) – Logan heads back in time to, I assume, various points in his past. I know nothing about this series beyond the front covers, but they look so incredibly exciting.

Redline #2 (Oni Press) – It’s not often I get excited about sci-fi comics… but this is one of the ones that tickles my fancy,

Voracious: Feeding Time #5 (Action Lab Entertainment/Action Lab: Danger Zone) – I make no secret of my love for this series whatsoever, and the finale to the second miniseries is going to be explosive – and awesome. My expectations are through the roof for this, but Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr have a habit of smashing those to smithereens with each issue.

 

Patrick

Top Pick: Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #2 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Last issue introduced us to Hardy Boys noir, let’s see what’s in store for Nancy.

All-Time Comics: Bullwhip #1 (Fantagraphics) – The idea of this line is so perfect and ridiculous it’s a must for me.

Spencer and Locke #1 (Action Lab Entertainment/Action Lab: Danger Zone) – Calvin & Hobbes noir. I’ll take that for at least one issue.

American Barbarian Complete Series (IDW Publishing) – !!!

 

Joe

Top Pick: Old Man Logan #21 (Marvel) – I can’t believe Lemire’s run is almost over, but this four issue arc sounds like a hell of a way to go out on top.

Seven to Eternity #5 (Image) – It’s back! The book returns after a usual image trade release break, and I’m stoked to see what Remender does.

Grass Kings #2 (BOOM! Studios) – After a promising first issue from one of my favorite writers, Matt Kindt, I am hyped for the second one.

Action Comics #977 (DC Comics) – The Superman Reborn arc was a lot of fun, and this comic has been consistently great. What’s next for Supes?

Detective Comics #954 (DC Comics) – A classic villain and Batman prepare to battle? Or will they? Tynion is killing it on this book and I’m so excited to see where this story goes, especially involving Orphan so much.

 

Shay

It’s an amazing week to be a comic book lover. It was really hard to narrow it down to the seven titles I picked.

Top Pick: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods Shadow #2 (Dark Horse) – Shadow’s life is about to get even more interesting in this graphic serial version of almost everyone favorite Gaiman book. Come for the David Mack variant covers, stay for the amazing story.

Top Pick: Black Panther and the Crew #1 (Marvel) – YES PLEASE. So many black superheroes, such a strong story, so much action. Saying I am here for the page turning story arc is an understatement.

America #1 2nd Printing (Marvel) – If you don’t already own a copy or haven’t read it yet, then you should get to it. Despite the shady AF comments about diversity killing the Marvel’s print sales, we have a comic book about a Queer Latina requiring a 2nd printing proving that representation counts, diversity is important and  America (the superhero & the country) is for all of us.

Kingpin #3 (Marvel) – The hits keep on coming, take that however you want, and, Kingpin is becoming a complex, fully realized, multi-faceted character.

Suicide Squad #15 (DC Comics) – The “Burning Down the House” storyline comes to an end. Deadshot is about to go up against his old team with Harley leading the charge. Rustam and his crew had better bring their A-game because, the Squad is in a take no prisoners, crack all skulls kind of mood.

Honorable Mention: Deadpool vs Punisher #1 (Marvel) – A battle of the morally gray psycho “heroes” is upon us. The man of all the action and little words meets the man with all the words and all the action.  Got popcorn?

Honorable Mention: Weapon X #1 (Marvel) – building on the awesomeness of Logan, the newest version of the Weapon X will keep you on your toes and worried about the safety of some of our favorite clawed mutants. You should be worried, this Weapon X upgrade isn’t just about creating superior mutants, it’s about kicking off a mutant genocide.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Weapon X #1 (Marvel) – I’m a sucker for shadowy government agencies, and Weapon X has a long standing history in Marvel of being one of the most shadiest and deadliest.  I’m excited to see what this new agency’s agenda is, and I’m looking forward to seeing Domino and Warpath back on a team line up.

X-Men Blue #1 (Marvel) – I’m hoping this title brings some of the fun from this teams first book, but also get them more into playing the heroes they will one day grow up to be.  And it’s going to be interesting to see how Magneto performs as mentor and how he will influence this team.  I’m thinking this is going to be a good one.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Spencer & Locke #1 (Action Lab Entertainment/Action Lab: Danger Zone) – It’s Calvin and Hobbes meets Sin City and it’s amazing. One of my favorite debuts so far of 2017 it’s entertaining and subversive.

Godshaper #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A super interesting concept where everyone has a god. I’ve read the first issue and it’s a unique idea and intriguing start.

Heathen #3 (Vault Comics) – Have you read the first two issues? That alone is reason this is on my list. A solid LGBT comic that is set in the world of vikings.

Solar Flare #1 (Scout Comics) – An apocalypse story where power goes out, Scout has been putting out entertaining comics that fly under the radar. They’ve nailed it when it comes to quality and solid comics. So, when there’s a new release it’s always on my list to check out.

The Unstoppable Wasp #4 (Marvel) – So far, the comic has been a lot of fun with a positive entertaining vibe that I can’t help but smile when I read it.

Preview: Amerikarate #2

AMERIKARATE #2

Writer(s): Brockton McKinney, Corey Kalman
Artist Name(s): Devin Roth
Cover Artist(s): Devin Roth, Daniel Arruda Massa, April O’Neil
Cover A – Main by Devin Roth (unlimited)
Cover B – Karate Commando by Daniel Arruda Massa (limited to 1500)
Cover C – Photo Cover: April O’Neil (limited to 1500)
32 pgs./ M / FC
$3.99 (reg.), $4.99 (var.)

Sam Kickwell has been thrown back into the high-stakes world of professional karating thanks to the ninja assassin who took his limbless brother’s life. But while he prepares for the fight of the century, he inadvertently comes kick-to-kick with FBI karate expert Cynthia Weaver. Will the two team-up to take down a megalomaniacal maniac…or will their sparks ignite a karate-fire that will consume them both?!

Preview: Voracious: Feeding Time #5

VORACIOUS: FEEDING TIME #5

Writer(s): Markisan Naso
Artist Name(s): Jason Muhr
Cover Artist(s): Jason Muhr (Cover A), Markisan Naso (Cover B – 500 Copies)
32 pgs./ T+ / FC
$3.99 (reg.), $4.99 (var.)

Gus Horncrasher is determined to find Owen at any cost, but first he has to go through Captain Jim. Back in Blackfossil, the Sheriff begins to unravel Nate’s secrets, Starlee prepares to leave town and Maribel’s first encounter with Tony is revealed, as the second volume of VORACIOUS concludes.

Featuring a “Dead Leaves” variant cover by VORACIOUS writer Markisan Naso! Limited to just 500 copies!

Review: Vampblade #11

As Katie’s search for the new Vampblade costume continues, will one giant blade give this warrior angel enough nerve to take on the latest and greatest other-dimensional foe?!? It’s Vampblade 2.0 – harder, faster, stranger!!!

Ah Vampblade, always a good, humorous and entertaining read. Katie manages to undergo a couple costume changes in this issue and an old bad guy returns, and seems to be more than he appears at first. Will Katie manage to survive the encounter with him, or will she perish? Writer Jason Martin continues to have fun with this series that is as much a send up of comics as anything else.

Katie trying to blend in with the 1% of the rich makes for an interesting sight to behold and artist Winston Young delivers the humor and entertainment in the art. Between the two costume changes in this issue, the anime-Esque one is my favorite (so far). It manages to give Katie/Vampblade a much more dangerous looking appearance. Not to mention one very badass looking sword.

Always a fun read and it never disappoints.

Story: Jason Martin Art: Winston Young
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Action Lab Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Spencer & Locke #1

Spencer & Locke #1

Written by DAVID PEPOSE
Art by JORGE SANTIAGO, JR.
Colors by JASEN SMITH
Lettering by COLIN BELL
Cover A by JORGE SANTIAGO, JR.
Cover B by MAAN HOUSE
Cover C by JOE MULVEY
$3.99 | 22 pgs. | Action Lab: Danger Zone | T+ | On sale APRIL 12

What if Calvin & Hobbes grew up in Sin City? Find out in SPENCER & LOCKE, a dark four-issue crime thriller from Action Lab Entertainment’s Danger Zone imprint. Written by David Pepose and illustrated by Jorge Santiago, Jr., SPENCER & LOCKE follows Detective Locke, who returns to the scene of his horrific upbringing when his grade-school sweetheart, Sophie Jenkins, is found dead in a lonesome back alley. But when Locke’s investigation dredges up menacing figures from his traumatic past, there’s only one person he can trust to help him close the case — his childhood imaginary panther, Spencer. The twisted nostalgia of SPENCER & LOCKE comes to comic shops and digital devices April 12!

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