Tag Archives: books

Underrated: A Once Crowded Sky

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: A Once Crowded Sky

It’s no secret how much I love comics. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

While most pretty much all of the comics I read can, to varying degrees, be placed on the superhero side of things, sometimes I’ll pick up the odd non-superhero comic.  I’m a big fan of the modern comic book re-imaginings of the early pulp heroes such as The Black Bat, The Spider, and The Phantom, although one could argue their closeness to the superhero genre renders the example moot, so let me be blunt; the point I am poorly trying to make is that I love superhero stories (of all varieties) in my comics more than any other type of story. 

Amazingly enough, I also read books.

If you look at my book shelf you’ll see a lot of fantasy, sword and sorcery, and historical fiction. There isn’t much set within the last one hundred years or so that I tend to pick up and read. I can think of, maybe, twenty books (or series) that I’ve read in the last fifteen years or so that are set within the last century, and only a handful of them were based around superheroes. One was an average Wolverine tale I read on Kindle, one is the hugely enjoyable Dresden Files series and another was A Once Crowded Sky by some dude named Tom King, which  is the subject of today’s column.

Although the story wasn’t quite mind blowing, it was remarkably well told, and had some incredible ideas within its pages. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is actually the way it is told. In a book with multiple point of view characters, each character’s point of view is laid out like a comic book; the book is set up like a text version of a collected comic book tie-in event across multiple issues. It’s a brilliant way to tie in the obvious influence and homage to the four colour medium, as is the occasional comic book page within the book itself.

A Once Crowded Sky is a relative anomaly for me; it’s a superhero story that I read, and enjoyed, that wasn’t in a comic book. Now, my sample size of superhero books is obviously incredibly small compared with that of superhero comics, but the thing I must stress here is it isn’t that I’ve had no access to superhero books, it’s that I simply have no desire to read about superheroes in any other medium that isn’t a comic book, and I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because up until A Once Crowded Sky every superhero book I’ve looked as has been hard to justify the price tag. I found A Once Crowded Sky for $3 on a table of reduced hardcover books at a chain book store – it’s easily worth four times that amount, but would I have looked at it for more than $3? Seeing as how it took me two days to decide to pick the book up even for about the price of a comic, well, then probably not. Maybe I don’t like superhero books because they lack the visual nature of comics, which probably does have something to do with it, but I’m more then happy reading the Dresden Files novels and graphic novels, but then the Dresden Files and superheroes occupy two different genres. Maybe, and most likely, it’s because there simply hasn’t been much buzz about any superhero books.

So what’s A Once Crowded Sky about, and why should you read it?

“The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane.

After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he’s forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice–PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day.”

Tom King’s debut novel has some lofty ideas, and some great presentation ideas that more than out weigh the at times overly wordy moments as King at times loses himself in backstory and internal monologues. There are flashes of his later brilliance in this 2012 novel, and it’s fascinating to see how he’s grown as a writer since this book. Despite having some rather interesting names for his characters (no, that’s not food – that’s my tongue in my cheek), it’s not hard to identify where their inspiration came from. Soldier of Fortune and Captain America do bear more than a slight similarity, after all.

But by using his own versions of these characters we’re all so familiar with, King is able to tell the story he wants without worrying about the guiding hand of either of the big two publishers impacting his story.

What we’re left with at the end of the day is a solid, and very enjoyable superhero novel written by a man who would go on to write some utterly fantastic comics. This book isn’t on that level, but it’s still well worth checking out should you come across it.

Someday, hopefully soon, superhero books will have their own section in the book store and when they do, that’s where you’ll find me.

The Best Comics of 2017 – Pharaoh Miles’s List

2017 was one of those years where for most of us in America, it feels like we are living in a really screwed up version of DMZ. As the virtues of Marcus Welby, MD and Hawkeye from MASH, no longer seems too idealistic for us mere mortals but more a goal, because at the end of the day, most of us hope we are on the side of the angels. The only reprieve most people had was entertainment, and I am going to recap some items that should have been on everyone’s “ must get to” list for 2018 categorized into : comic books, books, documentaries, all which are comics related,( I will leave the movies and tv shows to compatriots on the site, as there are too many that I watch to recap, LOL, but please do watch Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, though it lasted only 2 seasons, both were thoroughly and weird and brilliant) some of these things most fans know about but others may have flew under the radar, and I am pretty sure I have left off a few items, but please charge it to my head and not my heart, either way, please read and make your own list!


Mister Miracle: a hero from the bygone era of the New Gods, Tom King and Mitch Gerads has elevated this mostly unknown hero into the same conversation of all-time greats at DC.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: This particular book form Fantagraphics, is a game changer, part memoir, part biography of a time, part murder mystery and a love letter to monster movies. Emil Ferris proves that she is one to watch, the sequel coming in 2018 is one to watch.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack has made this book with too few issues a must read when it does hit your pullbox.  The last issue got into the Witch War arc, something I feel the new tv show at Netflix will probably tap into.

Love and Rockets: the Hernandez Brothers are always in top form with this book, their run has proven them to be masters everything sequential art.

The Best We Could Do : Thi Bui tells her heartbreaking story of her family and their trek to America as well as her trials and tribulations of own motherhood.

California Dreamin’: Penelope Bagieu is one my favorite cartoonist right about now, and her story of Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas fame, doesn’t disappoint, entailing every detail of her journey, one that is sure to entertain.

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank: what sounds like a tagline more than compelling hard boiled book about a bank robbery, is probably what Mathew Rosenberg and Tyler Bass, what shooting for and this exactly what they have accomplished and more.

Pashmina: Nidhi Chanani tells a harrowing story of secrets surrounding love and loss affecting mothers and daughters and a magical item which transports them.

Is This Guy For Real: Box Brown, an established cartoonist, has a special way to make his sequential art in tune with emotion, and he does it so well with his subject, Andy Kaufman. I suggest people read this book and then go watch the excellent and eccentric documentary, Jim and Andy, on Netflix. (this is being released in 2018 with review copies out in 2017 – ed)

Punisher Platoon: with the popularity of the Punisher tv show on Netflix, it would look like be great timing for this book, but this book far exceeds the TV show in multitudes, as we get a peak into this Frank Castle who commanded a platoon in Vietnam, an exciting book that is part spy thriller and part character exploration.

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands: Tony Isabella and Clayton Henry, has made this hero contemporary, and his villain as well as relevant issues like Black Lives Matter, up to date as well, which is something the TV show premiering on 1/16, probably will be handling.

Black: Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith III has written a story which raises questions  about medical eugenics and racial genocide , a book which is very much on time.

Black Panther and The Crew: In one of the best books to come from the House of Ideas, this book brought new light to a cast of characters, that was at once dated, but became instantly pertinent, with its storyline of government payoffs, gerrymandering and policing, too bad they cancelled it.

In Shards Volume 1: a book which proves that indie comics is where the real talent lies, as every creator at this burgeoning comics house is on their way to prove that they will be the ones to watch in 2018.

Sons of Fate: Revolution: Jean=Paul Deshong masterfully ends his epic tale set in Japan in this supersized finale which will break the hearts of most readers but will more than satisfy every reader, one to check out if you are fan of great stories especially ones involving Samurai, Ronin and some ninjas.

Kindred: John Jennings and Damian Duffy adapt one of the masters (Octavia Butler) of science  fiction’s greatest works, and gives the world an equally engrossing work, which visualizes what most thought could not be virtually conscribed and does what good adaptations do, makes the reader want to read to the source material.

Imagine Only Wanting This:  A beautiful book about heartbreak and one’s own mortality told through relationships and modern ruins, both allegorical and true to life.



Neverwhere: This re-release of Neil Gaiman’s book, is illustrated by Chris Eidell, and is must for any fan of this Twilight Zone-ish book from the contemporary master of prose.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Classic Illustrated Storybook: An interesting retelling of Steven Speilberg’s  classic film.

The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia: In an thorough book, that is no mere rehash, Steven Jay Rubin, delves deep into every episode, giving fans and novices alike, mostly unknown facts about the show.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View: Thirty different tales of some known and unknown characters and events within the Star Wars Universe, which will intrigue every Stars Wars fan, absolutely my favorite book about Star Wars in a while.

Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor: As a fan of  Bruce Campbell, who has watched every thing he has been in, including Burn Notice, it is always nice to read his entertaining thoughts on everything, and this book more than entertains.

A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic: As this is still is the holiday season, as of me writing this,  I wanted to give a nod one of my favorite Christmas movies, Die-Hard, which is adorably told by Doogie Horner.

The Refrigerator Monologues: An interesting “point of view” book which gives the reader the view of “usual bystander” or damsel in distress”, as the genesis of Gail Simone’s coinage of the term” refrigerated” as the mere advancing of a storyline by the befalling of tragedy on the leading female character, as in this brilliantly written book, they get their just due.

The Encyclopedia of Black Comics: I incidentally found this book at the 2017 BookCon In New York, and felt instantly as if I found a secret treasure, as this book, though small in size, is quite comprehensive, and should be on every comic reader’s list.



Batman and Bill: A documentary that follows Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Batman & Bill, as we follow his crusade to restore the name of Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman, and after watching this documentary, you will be giving side-eye to Bob Kane, as we get to find out how everything transpired and what a tragedy Finger’s life ended.

Superheroes Decoded: A different look at comics, as they definitively categorize heroes into two categories, “Legends” and Rebels” and how they relate to the American zeitgeist.

Floyd Norman: Animated Life:  although it was released in 2016, many viewers did not get to see these movies until 2017, and what an interesting life, Mr .Norman has lived, being one of the first black cartoonists at Disney, blazing a trail, that has opened doors for countless others.

Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics: Definitely one of the most absorbing series about some of the world’s best-known superheroes and the creators behind them, I certainly knew all of these stories beforehand, but still is pretty cool to see it dramatized.

Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously: Another documentary which came out  in 2016, but really became required viewing, once the world got see the Starz adaptation of American Gods and wanted to understand the mind of one of the world’s greatest story weavers.

Marvel Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy

It’s Wednesday which means new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. Instead of comics, today we’re looking at Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy written by Dan Abnett.

Find out about the book and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find it in comic stores May 10 and bookstores May 23.

Get your copy now. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy
Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW


Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

HER: An Interview With Malachi Bailey

malb2.jpgI first met Malachi Bailey nearly sixteen years ago through the magic of the internet, and he quickly became one of my closest friends; we’d sit up through the night talking about comics, life, the mysteries of the universe and, more often than not, writing fan fiction together. Although we did lose touch for almost a decade, through the magic of the internet our paths crossed again. I tell you this in the interest of full disclosure because Malachi Bailey has a way with words that will leave your jaw firmly on the floor. I’m not saying this because he’s an old friend, but because he’s a fantastic writer who has just published his debut novel Her.

And it’s good.

Graphic Policy: First things first, tell us a little about yourself?

Malachi Bailey: Hello, I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. I was that kid reading novels and comics up in trees. I loved reading about science fiction and fantasy, but it was the X-Men cartoon and comic book that would set me on the course. Their action-packed stories made me want to write. My siblings encouraged. So I’ve been writing since I was 9. I haven’t stopped and don’t plan to!

GP: I hope you don’t! What can you tell us about HER without giving too much away?

herMB: I am afraid you guys are stuck with me. But yes if you love sci-fi and fantasy, if you are into action and self-empowerment, then HER is your story! What is it about? Imagine an immortal woman with so much to learn, has reincarnated for a millennia. A new face, new skillset, and sometimes a special power. But when she Awakens in her new life, her memory is scrambled. The thing is her memory holds incredible power. She must remember who she is because there is an ancient evil that is tracking her through time…

GP: Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

MB: My siblings and I have always had the most fertile imagination growing up. We’d weave these engaging, dramatic stories involving our toys.  Then we fell in love with the X-Men from Marvel Comics. I became utterly obsessed with Storm. Strong. Black. In charge. A true Nubian queen.  She was the genesis for Her. I wanted a superheroine to have those qualities and attributes.

GP: How long had you been thinking of HER before you put pen to paper?

MB: Would you believe my mentor put the idea in my head?  I was her editorial assistant intern and she told me that I would be published so think of a book idea by the next time we had a meeting. The next time, I gave her rough breakdown of the HER novel. Hr face lit up. She was beyond excited.  She told me to have it finished by October 31st 2015. Um, I was given the assignment in May! But I did it. I put pen to paper on Memorial Day and finished the manuscript two months ahead of schedule!

motherone.jpgGP: That’s awesome. You self-published the novel initially; what made you decide to take that path?

MB: Originally I was going to publish through Brown Girls Books. I’d been interning with them at the time. But after much thought and soul-searching, I felt it was beneficial for me to self-publish my first novel. So I did.  Also, I created my own publishing house, Mother One Publications.

GP: Well you certainly jumped in at the deep end, eh?

MB: You could say that. It’s all or nothing. And HER deserves everything I’ve got!

GP: Which brings me to me to the Indiegogo campaign. You’re relaunching the book? 

MB: Yup! I am re-releasing HER through a crowdfunding website called Indiegogo. Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled with the typos I found in the book and, well, also I’ve been itching to showcase a new cover. Doing all this isn’t cheap.  So a month into it, I’ve been blessed to have donations after the campaign launch.

GP: After the relaunch, what’s next for Mal Bailey and Mother One?

MB: I’m just getting started! HER is only the beginning of a series I’m working on. I’m thinking right now there will about 5 books.  I’m also publishing other books through Mother One Publications. I have two different novel ideas floating around in my head that NEED to come out!

GP: Anything else you want to add before I let you go?

MB: I just want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. It truly means a lot. Also, I am very glad the campaign has been going well and I cannot wait until HER is back on the shelves. Still touched by the overwhelming wave of support.  This is only the beginning and I don’t intend to stop writing!

GP: Any time!

You can find Malachi on Facebook @MalachiTheWriter.

Check Out an Excerpt from Apocypha Now by Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell

Two-time Eisner award winning New Yorker cartoonist and Too Much Coffee Man‘s Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell (you should read his Prez) have teamed up again in a follow up to their tongue-in-cheek but respectful retelling of the Bible, God Is Disappointed In You? They’re back and working together again, because every bestseller has a sequel, even the Bible.

Apocryhpha Now, on sale now from Top Shelf Productions, is a faithful-yet-irreverent take on the best bits left out of the canonical Bible. Just like its predecessor, Apocryhpha Now is destined for the nightstand drawers of hipster hotels worldwide. Follow familiar characters like Cain and Abel, Mary Magdalene, and Judas through the stories the Bible never told you, the Midrash, the Apocrypha, and Gnostic Gospels, and read The Song of the Three Jews as a rap. Apocryhpha Now tells you what the Bible didn’t, only with LOL cartoons and smart and insightful prose.


Preview: Apocrypha Now!

Apocrypha Now!

Mark Russell (w) • Shannon Wheeler (a & c)

Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler’s faithful-yet-irreverent approach to the Bible made their book GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU a modern cult classic. Now, by popular demand, they turn their attention to the best parts left out of the canonical Bible, including the Midrash, the Apocrypha, Gnostic Gospels, and more! And if you thought the BIBLE had some weird stuff in it…

TP • FC • $19.99 • 208 pages • 5” x 8” • ISBN: 978-1-60309-369-9


Joe Hill’s Tales From the Darkside Scripts Collected

Tales From the Darkside ScriptbookWorld Fantasy, International Horror Guild, and Bram Stoker Award-winning author Joe Hill turns his attention to a legend—Tales From The Darkside.

Originally planned as a reboot for the storied series, Hill’s scripts for these never-broadcast television episodes allow the New York Times bestselling author to stretch his creative muscles, his effortless mastery of the twisted subject matter injecting new terrors into this silver screen legend.

Joining Hill in resurrecting this classic is Charles Paul Wilson III, known to many Joe Hill fans as the artist responsible for the nightmare vision made real in their most recent collaboration, Wraith, a graphic novel prequel to the Hill’s bestselling book N0S4A2. In Tales From The Darkside, Wilson’s tack-sharp interpretation of Hill’s vision is on display in a series of illustrations accompanying the scripts.

First created by George A. Romero, Tales From The Darkside offered a grim but compelling anthology-style series. Hill’s scripts for the unaired reboot of the series will debut in the eponymous comic series beginning this June, but fans looking for more raw Hill, this new scriptbook provides a unique glimpse into the creative process, and a look at what could have been.

Look for Tales From The Darkside: Scripts by Joe Hill wherever books are sold this October.

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Official Artworks in Stores Now

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV OFFICIAL ARTWORKSWhen samurai clash with demons and feudalism meets the futuristic in a post-apocalyptic world, the result is an incredibly compelling game with equally compelling artwork. To that end, UDON Entertainment has announced the release of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Official Artworks, an elegant volume collecting all of the darkly unique imagery behind the critically-acclaimed RPG for the Nintendo 3DS!

Featuring character designs and profiles, background art, rough concepts, a painstakingly detailed glossary of terms, behind-the-scenes breakdowns of in-game cutscenes, and creator interviews, this book also reverently highlights the iconic demon and monster designs for which the series is so beloved. Indeed, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Official Artworks is a can’t-miss item for fans of the series as well as those who like their fantasy artwork heavily inspired by mythology, mysticism, and the occult!

Headlined by lead artist Masayuki Doi, the book also includes guest character designs by famed artists of tokusatsu television series, video games and film including Yasushi Nirasawa (Kamen Rider), Keita Amemiya(Onimusha), Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) and more.

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Official Artworks is available now at finer book retailers everywhere and is also in stock at various online retailers.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story Novel Debuts from VIZ

Naruto-Novel-ShikamaruStoryVIZ Media delivers the next release in a continuing series of Naruto prose novels focusing on key characters from the internationally acclaimed ninja action series.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story was written by author Takashi Yano and will be released in print and digitally in early February. The book tells the story of the current head of Team 10 and the Nara Clan and features original cover art by Masashi Kishimoto. Allies and enemies from the famed NARUTO series take center stage in these fast-paced adventures, with each novel focusing on a particular clan mate, ally, team…or villain


MSRP: $10.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN / $6.99 Digital · Available February 2nd

Two years after the Great Ninja War, Shikamaru spends his days racing around, hands full as one of Konoha’s key protectors. Then, large numbers of ninja from every region are reported missing. Even Sai disappears. And the place where the missing shinobi end up is the mysterious empire, the Land of Silence. As a ninja, as an adult, to protect all that he is responsible for, Shikamaru must do battle with the shadow of a new generation.

Capturing Archetypes Volume 2 From Sideshow Collectibles

Sideshow Collectibles has announced Capturing Archetypes Volume 2. The book features an insightful foreword by renowned film poster illustrator Drew Struzan.

This deluxe second volume showcases a fresh slate of pop culture figures and statues from Sideshow Collectibles. It’s beautifully rendered with 192 pages of photography. The book is a must-have addition to the library of any pop culture collector.

The book retails for $34.00 and you can get it now.




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