Tag Archives: ben kahn

Ignatz-nominated series Heavenly Blues gets a digital release from Scout Comics and Illicit Press

In celebration of Heavenly Blues’ nomination for “Outstanding Series” at the upcoming Ignatz Awards, the acclaimed series will be available for the first time on digital comics leader comiXology. Illicit Press is partnering with original publisher Scout Comics to bring the series to its widest audience yet.

Reuniting writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo, the creative team behind Shaman and Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most WantedHeavenly Blues introduces readers to Hell’s greatest thieves, as they plan eternity’s greatest heist—against the angels of Heaven itself! To pull it off, Depression-era gun runner Isaiah Jefferson and accused Salem witch Erin Foley enlist a crew of outlaws from across time, including an Old West bank robber, a samurai addicted to a drug that provides a glimpse of the living world, and an Ancient Egyptian tomb raider. Together, they must evade the forces of both realms as they seek the afterlife’s greatest prize!

By turns thrilling, poignant, and darkly funny, Heavenly Blues was a critical darling upon its print serialization and has been optioned for film. The new digital editions re-present the six-issue series in its entirety, complete with Hidalgo’s breathtaking covers, just in time for the Ignatz Awards at 2019’s Small Press Expo. If attending the convention, you can vote for the series.

Issues #1 & #2 release September 11
Issues #3 & #4 release September 18
Issues #5 & #6 release September 25

Issue #1 will be offered at 99¢ for a 27-page issue. Subsequent issues will be offered at $1.99.

Heavenly Blues #1

Preview: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #6

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED #6 (of 12)

Ben Kahn (Writer), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color), Sal Cipriano (Letters)
August 7, 14p, 99¢, Digital-First

Gryffen and company’s Ensaran adventure comes to a fiery climax, as Admiral Hunter joins the fray! Are Gryffen’s laser-focused zingers a match for Hunter’s prowess with a laser sword?!

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED #6

Preview: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #5

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED #5 (of 12)

Ben Kahn (Writer), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color), Sal Cipriano (Letters)
Jul7 17, 15p, 99¢, Digital-First

Gryffen unbound! To save Telika’s planet, the crew of the Al-Haytham have put together a plan so crazy it just might work: use the mind of the galaxy’s smartest man to terraform the world, while Gryffen themself mounts a ground campaign against the Reach! Meanwhile, Admiral Hunter watches and plans…

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED #5 (of 12)

Doom Patrol: It’s Always Pride on Danny Street. Listen to the Podcast on Demand

Danny the Street sprang into existence out of the first brick thrown at Stonewall. Facts. We loved Doom Patrol on DC Universe streaming and comics writer Ben Kahn and comics retailer John Arminio are here to tell you why.

  • The Bureau of Normalcy is ICE
  • Yes you should watch Swamp Thing
  • “My face is beat. My look is flawless. And I am dulcet from head to toe. The only thing I am not is scared of you.”

This covers episodes 3 through the finale. Hear thoughts on episodes 1 and 2.

Ben Kahn is a comic book writer based in New York. Their latest series, Gryffen: galaxy’s Most Wanted, is their third collaboration with artist Bruno Hidalgo after Shaman and Heavenly Blues. Gryffen is a genderqueer, anti-fascist space opera published by SBI Press exclusively on ComiXology.

Heavenly Blues sees a ragtag group of deceased thieves condemned Hell team up to pull the ultimate heist on Heaven. Art also by Bruno Hidalgo.

John Arminio is a long-time comic book devotee and retailer who peddles his wares at Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Along with comics, another of his great passions is film, and you can hear him discuss that artistic medium on recent episodes of the podcasts Hellbent for Horror, Film ’89, and 26 Movies from Hell. 

Thank you John for the editing help! And sorry to our listeners for the wait on this. 

Ben Kahn writes Gryffen Galaxy’s Most Wanted and Heavenly Blues and is on Graphic Policy Radio!

Ben’s not writing a dystopia, they’re writing a catharisis! “Like the Hulk!” but with a pink queer undercut. 

Ben Kahn is a comic book writer based in New York. Their latest series, Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, is their third collaboration with artist Bruno Hidalgo after Shaman and Heavenly Blues.

Gryffen is a genderqueer, anti-fascist space opera published by SBI Press exclusively on comiXology

Heavenly Blues sees a ragtag group of deceased thieves condemned Hell team up to pull the ultimate heist on Heaven. Art also by Bruno Hidalgo. 

Follow Ben on twitter at https://twitter.com/BenTheKahn

Review: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #1

Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted #1

Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo, and coloring assistant James Penafiel are back with some yummy, fun, and ultraviolent sci-fi as Captain Lyla Gryffen busts out of the prison hold of genocidal space fascists with the help of Elf and resistance fighter Telika and scientific genius/fuck buddy Elliot Dao. It’s space pulp adventures retrofitted for our era of hypercapitalism and white supremacy like Rick and Morty if it had a social conscience filled with equal takedowns of oppressive systems and shit blowing up.

The first page narration sets Lyla Gryffen as some legendary figure, and Kahn and Hidalgo ensure they live up to the legend by making Gryffen #1 all about cleverly breaking out of prisons and laying out their ideals about the world via quippy, eminently quotable dialogue about Bourbons, Bonapartes, the Industrial Revolution, and green Jello. Even though Gryffen is an action adventure narrative, it’s all about finding away to disrupt hegemonic systems instead of just the usual rebel alliance/blow up the small moon sized space station nonsense. Lyla wants to create a world where Admiral Thrawn, clones of the Emperor, and/or Yuuzhan Vong couldn’t rise to power after the second death Star through the power of science. But, also, violence.

Speaking of violence, Bruno Hidalgo’s art hits fever pitch when Lyla is kicking ass up and down the prison with Ben Kahn supplying them with one-liners about a no killing policy. Hidalgo and James Penafiel uses a red color palette to add intensity to the prison riot sequence, and Hidalgo’s uses big poses to draw attention to each action beat. The use of some old school motion lines are great for Lyla’s quick dodges and jabs and also builds up to a mad scientist’s wet dream of conclusion that oddly made me want to revisit the Halo franchise.

Other than the action with a side of political satire and emphatic artwork, Gryffen is a fun comic because of the interactions and chemistry between the three crew members, Lyla, Telika, and Dao. It’s a hotbox of cynicism meets idealism plus the fierce sexual attraction between Telika and Dao. Plus they love science a lot and think it’s the solution to everything, which leads to ingenious solutions, but also has bad side effects like the death cult that Dao influenced back in the day. The ideological clashes and riffing between Lyla, Telika, and Dao keeps the story going between fights, escapes, and chase sequences, and I look forward to learning more about cool scientists and seeing Lyla roast more 21st century Earth politicians.

Gryffen #1 is a sci-fi comic that is both immensely entertaining and sociopolitically relevant. Lyla Gryffen has plenty of attitude, and it seems like Ben Kahn is having the time of their life writing them. Throw in Bruno Hidalgo’s in-your-face colors and pulpy, gory artwork, and this is the summer punk rock sci-fi spectacular that you wish Hollywood had the balls to make.

Story: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo
Color Assists: James Penafiel Letters: Sal Cipriano
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Starburn Industries Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Starburns Industries Press Goes Digital, Launches Three Digital-First Comedy Series on May 1

Starburns Industries Press’ summer season begins May 1, with the debuts of three digital-first series from some of comics’ rising stars! Spanning three genres, Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most WantedInvasion from Planet Wrestletopia, and Long Ago and Far Away are united by SBI’s mandate of “Funny. Strange. Sad. Beautiful.” Each limited series will later be collected in paperback, but fans can read them early on comiXology and preview them in Starburns Presents, SBI’s 2019 Free Comic Book Day offering.

Gryffen is being serialized in half-length issues for 99¢ each, while Wrestletopia and Long Ago and Far Away are serialized in full-length—and some extra-length—issues for $1.99 each, passing the savings from print costs on to readers. Schedules range from weekly for Long Ago and Far Away to monthly for Wrestletopia, but it all starts May 1!

The three series available May 1 include:

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED

Script: Ben Kahn (Heavenly Blues)
Art and color: Bruno Hidalgo (Once Upon a Time Machine)
Letters: Sal Cipriano (The Batman Who Laughs)

Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo follow up their acclaimed Heavenly Blues with Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted, a genderqueer space opera following Captain Lyla Gryffen’s campaign against the fascist Sovereign Reach. Once pride of the Reach, Gryffen disappeared six months ago at the edge of the galaxy, only to return one week ago—deeply pissed off. Building a crew from a hostage Reach soldier and the imprisoned smartest man in the universe, Gryffen is out to put a stop to the Reach’s exploitation of worlds, the stagnation of science, and the tyranny of green Jell-O!

Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted will run twelve 12-page issues for 99¢ each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released every three weeks.

Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

Script: Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin (Lumberjack Man)
Art: Dan Schkade (The Spirit), Kendall Goode (WWE)
Color: Marissa Louise (Hex Wives)
Letters: A Larger World (Ninja•K)

Creators Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin bring their cult classic to SBI Press, where the story will be completed for the first time! “Boy Scout” Bob Schultz! Cousin Orville! Mini Macho! Kodiak Jack! Spanish Rose! Don Fong Wong! These are the megastars of 1984’s AWF. “Rock ’n’ Roll” Rory Landell isn’t getting the respect he thinks he deserves, so one crazy night he ups the game, declaring himself the Galactic Champion of the Universe. But it turns out AWF fans aren’t the only ones listening, and the denizens of planet Wrestletopia aren’t going to take a challenge like that sitting down! Soon the Earth is enclosed in a metal cage, and true Galactic Champion Manifest Destiny is on the hunt for Rory, who may or may not be passed out drunk somewhere.

Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia will run six extra-sized issues for $1.99 each. Issue #2 will release on May 15, with subsequent issues released monthly.

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

Script: Chris Mancini (Comedy Film Nerds)
Art and Color: Fernando Pinto (Monarchs)
Letters: Troy Peteri (KISS)

Comedian and Comedy Film Nerds cohost Chris Mancini breathes new life into fantasy realms with adept humor artist Fernando Pinto! Decades ago, Jason saved the world of Elvenwood from the witch queen Nexis as the Child Knight. Today, he’s an unhappy manager of a comics store, where his disbelieving coworkers have to hear his ridiculous tale over and over. When the denizens of Elvenwood return to seek Jason’s help again, it turns out it’s all true, but will Jason be the hero he once was? Or will he just make things worse because he grew up to be a complete jackass?

Long Ago and Far Away will run eight standard-length issues for $1.99 each. The series will be released weekly.

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

The first issue of each series is available exclusively on ComiXology May 1, and Gryffen and Wrestletopia are also previewed in Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day #2 on May 4! The issue includes an excerpt from Wrestletopia #1 and the complete first chapter of Gryffen, along with a prologue for C.W. Cooke and Kelly Williams’s upcoming digital-first Nasquatch, an excerpt from the next chapter of A.C. Medina, Mina Elwell, and Kit Wallis’s Hellicious, an original story from the world of Eben Burgoon’s B-Squad, and a taste of comedian Josh Fadem’s A Whole New Set of ProblemsStarburns Presents #2 features an original cover by Kelly Williams mashing up the characters from all of the issue’s stories!

Starburns Presents Previews Key Titles for 2019

On Free Comic Book Day 2019, SBI Press delivers their next installment of Starburns Presents. This year’s edition will include special previews of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia, Nasquatch, Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition, Gryffen, B-Squad, and A Whole New Set of Problems by 30 Rock‘s Josh Fadem!

Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia

Written by Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin
Art by Dan Schkade
Colors by Marissa Louise

SBI Press will publish the no-holds-barred, action-comedy sci-fi series from writers Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel (Valiant HeartsMario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Lumberjack Man), artist Dan Schkade (Will Eisner’s The SpiritBattlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters), colorist Marissa Louise (Spell on WheelsMystery Girl) and letterer Dave Lanphear (Shirtless Bear-Fighter, Quantum & Woody).

Inspired by the colorful days of 1980s pro-wrestling, the six-issue mini-series kicks off when disgruntled professional wrestler “Rock ‘n Roll” Rory Landell declares himself “galactic champion of the universe”, which a hostile planet of wrestling aliens takes as a declaration of war from Planet Earth.

Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia

Nasquatch

Written by CW Cooke and Kelly Williams
Art by Kelly Williams

Nasquatch is the story of Nas and Denny, two disparate souls brought together by racing, cars, and a love of the outdoors. Also, Nas is a sasquatch who is an unbelievable driver and Denny lives in a trailer park and just wants a better life.

Nasquatch will be a digital-first comic book series launching in 2019, first appearing in the pages of the Starburns Presents Free Comic Book Day issue from SBI Press and going from there digitally and eventually seeing print in trade paperback format.

Nasquatch

B-Squad

Written by Eben Burgoon
Art by Michael Calero

Following the missions of a squad of misfit mercenaries that range from pop-culture riffs to cut from whole cloth oddity — the expendable mercs just never seem to catch a break and face the Thanksgiving leftovers of upper-tier mercenary groups. The debut effort revisits Burgoon’s story made with artist Lauren Monardo which was originally released in early 2013. “Conspiracy in Cambodia” sees B-Squad head to Cambodia as they are tasked with protecting free-range cadre of “mugwai” from a group of radicalized hipsters poaching the furry critters for unknown gain.

Each “mission” of B-Squad will be released in a giant-size format and feature a Saturday Morning Cereal style collection of “tangent comics” including Burgoon’s newest series “Tiny Wizards” and Michael Calero’s “Monster Safari” as well as expansive activities, games, and magazine content that will remind people of dentist-office staples like Highlights magazine and ZooBooks.

B-Squad

Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition

Written by A.C. Medina and Mina Elwell
Art by Kit Wallis and Trevor Richardson

Continuing Hellicious with its first spin off book, Pick Your Perdition #1: Seeking Briggy, will be an interactive comic set in the world of Hellicious. Following the untimely demise of goth rocker, Briggy Bundy, his surviving band has been left with a great big iconic lead singer-sized hole in their lives which they desperately need to fill. You, the reader, will become  the new frontman of Briggy Bundy’s band, but the fans aren’t interested in change and will only accept the original Briggy. To succeed, you will need the help of Briggy himself and all the supernatural powers to intercede on your behalf.

Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition

FCBD 2019’s edition of “Starburns Presents” will also feature an excerpt of the upcoming digital first series, Gryffen, written by Ben Kahn and illustrated by Bruno Hidalgo, of Heavenly Blues fame and Josh Fadem of 30 Rock will present a sneak peek of his book A Whole New Set of Problems. Fadem’s book will be a collection of humor shorts in the style of Shel Silverstein, but more in line with the offbeat humor of Starburns Industries Press. In Gryffen, humanity has taken to the stars, and crushed it in an iron fist. The most powerful and tyrannical faction of humans call themselves the Sovereign Reach. But one captain has had enough, and they’re willing to burn down the universe to destroy their own kind. Cpt. Lyla Gryffen, driven insane and branded a traitor, recruits a crew of mad scientists and rogue officers to steal a ship and achieve their singular philosophy: introduce rapid, unchecked technological progress with the explicit aim of destabilizing the entire galactic society. Chasing Gryffen is Admiral Rosalind Hunter, a ruthless soldier who will protect the Reach’s stability at any cost. It’s a race to the edge of the universe as these iron wills clash. 

FlameCon 2018: Writers Ben Kahn and Rachel Silverstein Talk Their New Comic, Renegade Rule

FlameCon 2018 marked the debut of the creator owned comic book Renegade Rule #1. It’s a slice of life comic about an all female VR eSports team called Manhattan Mist featuring the team members Amanda, Sasha, Jessie, and Tonya. It is written by Ben Kahn (Heavenly Blues) and Rachel Silverstein, a J.D. student and member of Marvel’s Agents of GIRL with art by Sam Beck (Verse).

At the convention, I got the latest scoop from Ben Kahn and Rachel Silverstein on this exciting new book.

Graphic Policy: How did you all meet creatively and decide to work on this comic together. Ben, I know you’ve done a lot of solo books in the past so why did you want to bring on Rachel as a co-writer?

Ben Kahn: We met at the first Five Points festival last year.

Rachel Silverstein: It was totally random, and Ben was one of those hecklers, who had a table. And I walked by, and he said, “Hey, buy my comic.” And I bought the first two issue. Then, we somehow got into the topic of Judaism on Twitter, and I was in Israel at the time. Then, we kind of became friends after that.

BK: Rachel was in law school. I’ve been there when I wanted to make a comic and didn’t have the resources to sink into it, and I’m like, “Hell, let me pay it forward.” Because I had read scripts by her and knew she was an amazing writer. This will not stand if she goes out and becomes a lawyer without ever gracing the comic book pages. We’re gonna make something happen.

What does Rachel like? Girls and video games. There’s a comic there somewhere.

GP: Renegade Rule is all about video games. What has your experience been of gaming over the years?

BK: I feel like the old fogey. [in cranky old man voice] Back in my day, platformers and JRPGs ruled the land. I was into more of the single player games. I loved all these fantastical plots and worlds. I don’t really like the gameplay as much. I wish I could find a medium that only did the plots and the characterization. And then I found comics, and that was all I cared about.

I always enjoyed Halo growing up. It’s probably the biggest influence on me. I spent a lot of middle school playing Halo at a friend’s house until two in the morning.

GP: Me too.

BK: For me, with a lot of the modern games like Team Fortress, Overwatch, and Fortnite, I’m an outsider looking in. Especially the fandom element and the culture that builds around it. I’ve never played Overwatch except at [Rachel’s] house a few times. But I read all the comics, watch all the cinematics, read all the wikis. So, I was definitely intrigued at the idea of having this fun, fictional crazy world to throw on top of a sports story narrative [in Renegade Rule].

RS: For me, I would never call myself a gamer, but when Overwatch came out, I remember seeing the first posts on Tumblr of the cinematic for Widowmaker and Tracer. I was like “This looks really gay. What is it?” I thought it was a movie.

BK: Let the record show that Rachel is wearing a Pharah hat and a color matching jacket.

RS: And a D. Va backpack. I was like, “What is this?” So, I watched a lot of gameplay and thought it was really cool. I actually bought an Xbox One just so I could play Overwatch. That’s pretty much the only thing I’ve gotten into that’s relevant to Renegade Rule. When Ben wanted to make a comic with similar elements to a video game, I figured, “I can do this. I can totally do this.”

GP: Why did you guys decide to do a VR game?

BK: I just think it would be super fucking boring to have characters holding controllers for twenty pages.

RS: We also wanted it to be a little futuristic. We could add the element of them moving around and have action in it.

BK: It’s like that .hack//Sign/Ready Player One old school trope of the VR game, especially with the sports movie narrative of physicality and training. There’s a real physical element to the gameplay beyond them holding controllers.

GP: Break that whole workout scene with Amanda, the team leader, towards the end of comic because when I think of video games, I think of just sitting on the couch. But she’s pumping iron and stuff.

RS: We wanted to make it so they’re not sitting on a couch and wanted to add an element where they have to maintain their physical bodies and have the dexterity to play a video game.

BK: Because I love exercise. It’s a part of my daily routine. I went on a whole run before coming to the convention. I wanted to capture the sense of pushing yourself, and Amanda wanting to overcome her limits and being better than she is. We were trying to get the invigorating feeling of training and communicating that on the page.

GP: Renegade Rule is a self-published comic. What have been some of the challenges of doing it by yourselves?

RS: Nothing at all.

BK: Nothing unexpected. I’ve gone through the production process enough to know what it’s going to be, and our whole hope was to have issue one ready for FlameCon.

RS: Sam [Beck] really came through with that. We have to give her kudos. We never gave her a time frame to do anything. We were like “Do it at your own pace. There’s no rush”, and then we were going to be at FlameCon so let’s debut it here.

It was halfway through June, and she said she took on a few other projects. And we were like “Can you have this done by the beginning of August?”, and she did an amazing job considering the time crunch.

BK: Sam’s work on the book was so good. I look at the pages, and the colors are stunning and the atmosphere and the characters. There are some facial expressions that just make me laugh looking at them. I can’t say enough good things about Sam’s art. The girls feel like real people, and a lot of that is the way Sam brought them to life and communicated their attitudes from their fashions to their faces to the way they carry themselves. The acting she’s able to do through an image is fantastic.

GP: How were you all able to get her join Renegade Rule? Why was she the best artist for the project?

RS: We actually search on Twitter. We looked at the #VisibleWomen hashtag. I remember I saw it and sent a link to her Twitter and said, “Ben, this the artist we need. Please make this happen.” It actually worked. She was the first person we asked and was like “Okay”.  We were really lucky.

GP: I love the team name Manhattan Mist and that you named it after a character’s vape. Which member of Manhattan Mist are you, and why?

BK: We read the script out loud.

RS: We sit down to write it together. We Skype together.

BK: We’re writing every panel together. When we break down who reads what voices, Rachel reads as Amanda and Tonya, and I read for Jessie and Sasha. I feel like that’s a good breakdown personality-wise.

GP: So you treat it like a stage play.

RS: Yeah, whenever we try to think of emphasis when we bold the words for lettering, we try to read the script in different voices.

BK: We figure out the best way to read the line and then figuring out the best way to communicate that line to the reader. That’s always been a big part of my writing process. Reading the dialogue out loud and then seeing how it sounds. That’s why I’ve been kicked out of a lot of coffee shops, but I think it’s worth it for the dialogue.

RS: But to answer your question, I would definitely be a Tonya. When I had sent the PDF of Renegade Rule to one of my friends, I asked, “What are your thoughts?” And all she said back was “When you think that you’re Sasha, but really you’re Tonya.” That is so accurate. I think a lot of people would relate to that. Everyone wants to think that they’re this badass who picks up all the girls. But you’re really just the one in the bar going “I’m gonna die alone.”

GP: So relatable.

BK: I think I’ve always been more of a Jessie. I’m not quite always on the ball. “Yeah, yeah that thing we’re doing, but also that thing that has nothing to do with that relevant thing.” Jessie is all about the sloth videos.

GP: I like the romances set up in Renegade Rule #1. You’ve got Jessie and her boyfriend and Amanda with her crush on Gabby. What role will romance play in the book going forward?

BK: In sports stories, you’ve seen the rivals that launch a thousand fan fics. So, we thought what if that subtext was very textual. We want to do that love story with a rival story.

RS: We’re doing cliche. Number one enemy becomes the love interest.

BK: I think this is gonna have a few more punches to the face than the cliche love story.

RS: We have a lot of big things planned for Amanda and Gabby.

BK: It’s gonna be fun because these are two very driven, very competitive, very compassionate women that are gonna find a lot in common. Sparks and punches will fly to use my marketing poster line.

GP: Do you find writing the action/video game scenes or the slice of life scenes more enjoyable?

RS: I love the slice of life stuff.

BK: The slice of life stuff is really fun. I always love that intersection between fantastic and mundane so it feels unique to write an eight page stretch of friends hanging out at a bar. Action is fun, especially when we get to play with because what I like about having the video game motif is we get to have very epic sci-fi action visuals without having to do the whole epic sci-fi war part. Fuck it, lizard man, cyborg, and ninja that’s who they’re gonna fight this issue.

GP: Can you guys tease out any of the teams that Manhattan Mist is facing?

RS: Yes. We spent a long time coming up with teams, and we trashed a couple of them. The big thing for us was coming up with the names.

BK: Let’s see, we’ve got their Y-chromosome doppelgangers, the Nashville Banjos coming up. It’s the Mist, but with slightly relationship dynamics. They can very much get in the heads of our girls.

RS: Then, we’ve got the Brooklyn Sharpshooters, who are the best team.

BK: Their colors are purple and gold. ‘Cause even in Brooklyn, it’s totally not a take on the L.A. Lakers. One thing I like, starting in issue two, is the differing play styles and the philosophy behind it. There’s the Santa Fe Shinobi, who represent regimented training in all areas. It’ll be fun putting that up against a bunch of friends and that mess around, have fun play style of the Manhattan Mist.

GP: I have one last question. Ben, you have the Heavenly Blues trade coming out from Scout Comics in December. Why should fans of Renegade Rule pick up Heavenly Blues?

RS: Why shouldn’t they?

BK: So, the basic plot of Heavenly Blues is about a group of thieves in Hell from throughout history, who team up to pull the ultimate heist on Heaven. If you like a team full of chaotic scoundrels who come together to be more than the sum of their parts going up against impossible odds and pulling off an impossible job, Heavenly Blues is the book for you. Also, it has weaponized gay kissing. I guess if you can’t imagine that you’re just gonna have to buy the book.

Buy a physical copy of Renegade Rule #1 on Etsy.

Follow Ben Kahn on Twitter.

Follow Rachel Silverstein on Twitter.

Review: Heavenly Blues #6

“The World was all before them, where to choose/Their place of rest, and Providence their guide/They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow/Through Eden took their solitary way.”- John Milton from Paradise Lost XII.646-9

Heavenly Blues #6 is an all action and bisexual friendly making out sequence-filled conclusion to Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo‘s Ocean’s 11 meets Mike Carey’s run on Lucifer with a side of The Great Train Robbery and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade heavenly and hellish crime saga. They have done a fantastic job establishing the various members of the crew throughout the previous five issues, including master thief Isaiah, young girl/accused Salem witch/queen of snark Erin, Egyptian grave robber Amunet, drug addict ninja Hideki, and my personal favorite character, bisexual cowboy Coin Counter, and now it’s time to set them loose in a variety of set pieces leading up to a kind of perfect ending. Interweaving the character backstories throughout the main narrative of the miniseries really pays off in spades, especially once you get to the impactful final page.

Even though the battles are technically between dead people and immortals, Bruno Hidalgo draws hand to hand fight scenes with weight behind them thanks to close-ups of each punch or kick and good old fashioned speed lines. Isaiah really gets the shit beaten out of him by various angels and the bruises he takes throughout the book are a reminder of how desperately and painfully he wants to be mortal. Each hit and possible angelic captivity shows that even though he was a solo thief in his past life, Isaiah is a great leader and generally gives a shit. Hidalgo has a great sense of humor to match Kahn’s heat of battle/pointing guns at people being glued to their technological devices in the afterlife banter, and the silent panel is one of the funniest scenes in the comic. Also, he uses a kind of burnished yellow/gold tone for the angels that makes them look like slightly overcooked Simpsons characters and is kind of hilarious. Even though they have an important role to protect the nicer side of the afterlife, angels aren’t all knowing and don’t make great conversation partners. They also don’t have free will and make great patsies and antagonists in action sequences.

In the end, Heavenly Blues #6 joins the pantheon of Holy Grail stories, and its use of the slightly shinier cup of the carpenter than the one the Drs. Jones found is much more than just a heist MacGuffin or the object of a video game fetch quest. It represents human freedom in all its dented flawed glory: the freedom to transcend the boxes that society has placed us in and have another shot at living a great life like the Heavenly Blues crew achieves in the end. And free will is definitely something worth fighting for literally as Amunet uses the Grail as a literal melee weapon as she dips and dodges the angels’ mechanical guardian for it. Isaiah even gives an angel a taste of free will after battling with him for a whole issue and posits the idea that maybe it’s better to just chill and fade away than live forever doing the same thing. Hidalgo uses an almost euphoric light purple to show this embrace of oblivion, and it’s a wonderful reminder that, throughout its run, Heavenly Blues has been as much about theology and philosophy than it has been about crime capers and shootouts.

Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo make Heavenly Blues #6 part highlight reel, part beautiful conclusion to five people’s journey to achieve not just eternal life, but life. It’s fun to watch to this heist play out on the page instead of through exposition, and the ending is well-earned. I will miss this fun, flawed cast of characters (Especially Coin Counter.) and look forward to more thought provoking and ass kicking Kahn and Hidalgo joints in the future.

Story/Letters: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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