Tag Archives: brian k vaughan

Review: Barrier #1

Barrier is an unconventional drama about violence, language, and illegal immigration…with a shocking sci-fi twist. Originally published on Panel Syndicate, the five issue miniseries is a deeply layered entertaining comic that will make you think.

In print for the first time by Image Comics, this first issue is a bit special. One version was released for free on Free Comic Day, but today sees the release of a special collector’s edition in a larger size to match the next four issues which will be released weekly through May. The comic features a cardstock cover, printed in the original landscape format, and is meant to be a durable work of art. You’ll need to get it as these print issues as there’s no plan to collect these issues in print.

So, the printing is special but how about the comic?

Barrier is amazing with a multilayered look at society and those things that divide us written by Brian K. Vaughan. Language, immigration, borders, class, it’s all touched upon and is as relevant today as when it was first released digitally. The story follows two individuals, Liddy, a rancher in Texas, and Oscar, an immigrant making his way to the United States from Honduras. That aspect of the story feels like it’s an even greater punch in the stomach considering the recent migrant train that has reached the border of the United States from Honduras attempting to escape violence and threats to their lives. Through the two of them we see the abuses when it comes to undocumented immigration and the story touches upon the horrors.

Presented in English and Spanish, without translation, the story at first leads you to believe the barrier is distance, or borders, and the ability to seek a better life. This alone is the material for a long comic series and one that would be emotionally heartbreaking. From there the barrier of compassion is explored with a focus on the white nationalism and racism that accompanies the Minutemen and their militant border protection. That too could be a story by itself. And going even further the story then leads you to believe the barrier is one of language as the story of Liddy and Oscar collide. Their inability to communicate due to language is a barrier. And finally there’s… well, I’ll leave that twist to the reader.

But, what especially amazes me is that the story and presentation itself is a barrier in some ways to the reader. My Spanish is near non-existent so reading Oscar’s story is a barrier in some ways to me. The same could be said for those who only speak Spanish. What’s interesting is even without knowing what is said, I still understood what was going on and that’s due to the power of the art by Marcos Martin with color by Muntsa Vicente.

And Martin’s art too is a barrier in some ways. It’s brilliant in that it can tell the story without dialogue but in a landscape it creates a small barrier for those that have traditionally read comics. Digitally I didn’t notice this as much but in a physical format, the holding of the comic in a non-traditional, Western-standard way, is in itself a small barrier in how you interact. It’s an interesting choice that enhances the story in many ways and I found myself enjoying it even more as a physical product.

Barrier is unconventional in every way exploring violence, language, and immigration in a story that weaves together in an unexpected way. Writing this review I have the hindsight of have read the entire series digitally but rereading it all this time later, I can’t help be amazed at how good this is. Now, more individuals can read what is a comic that’s as timely today as when it was first released a year ago.

Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Marcos Martin Color: Muntsa Vicente
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Y: The Last Man May Finally Be Coming to Television

After starting and stopping and starting and stopping, the modern classic comic series Y: The Last Man is a step closer to coming to the screen.

FX has ordered a pilot for an adaptation of the comic series title Y. It’ll be from writer/producer Michael Green who has worked on American Gods, Logan, and Bladerunner 2049. The series will be co-run between Green and Melina Matsoukas. Matsoukas will direct the pilot. Comic series writer, and co-creator, Brian K. Vaughan will executive produce. The comic series debuted in 2002 and ran until 2008 with 60 issues.

The comic featured Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Amerisand who are the only male mammals to survive a global plague. They travel the world attempting to find Yorick

FX’s press releases describes the series:

All of the men are dead. But one. Based on the DC comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y traverses a world of women — exploring gender, race, class and survival.

The series was published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and was created by Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra. The two control the rights to it. New Line Cinema was attached for a film in 2007. When that didn’t materialize the rights returned to Vaughan and Guerra. FX picked up the rights in 2015 and had announced Michael Green would showrun a television adaptation in 2016.

A pilot is a positive step but also doesn’t guarantee we’ll see a series. Still, it’s closer than we’ve been.

Image Reveals Four Artist Appreciation Variants

Image Comics has revealed the first four of a series of virgin editions of highly anticipated new issues—Infidel #1 by Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell, Moonshine #8 by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, Saga #50 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and Gideon Falls #1 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino—each of which will feature back cover quotes from the writers on the importance of their collaborating artists.

The front covers of these variants will be without series logo, Image logo, issue number, or price.

Gideon Falls #1 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino will be available on Wednesday, March 7th.

Infidel#1 by Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell will be available on Wednesday, March 14th.

Moonshine #8 by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso will be available on Wednesday, March 21st.

Saga #50 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Diamond Code JAN188081) will be available on Wednesday, March 28th. The final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, March 5th.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Newsarama – BKV Writing Silver Surfer Movie For 20th Century Fox – Report – When it goes into production, we’ll care.

 

Reviews

Comic Attack – The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1

The Beat – The Green Hand and Other Stories

Comics Bulletin – Ice Cream Man #2

Comics Bulletin – Punks Not Dead #1

Image Comics to publish Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s miniseries Barrier

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, the Eisner Award-winning creative team behind The Private Eye, are reunited in Barrier, the five-issue miniseries originally published in digital format via Panel Syndicate and featuring color work by Muntsa Vicente. This May, all five issues will be available in print for the first time, exclusively from Image Comics.

Barrier is a truly unconventional drama that tackles violence, language, and illegal immigration—with a shocking sci-fi twist. Printed in its original “landscape” format and graced with gorgeous cardstock covers, each comic is meant to be a durable work of art.

Mature readers will be able to pick up the massive 50-plus-page first issue for free on Free Comic Book Day on May 5th. The following week, a special collector’s edition of the first issue will be released in a larger size to match the next four issues being released weekly throughout the rest of May.

Barrier #1 (Diamond code: MAR180571) and BARRIER #2 (Diamond code: MAR180573) hit comic book stores Wednesday, May 9th. The final order cutoff deadline for comics retailers is Monday, April 16th.

Saga Gets Funko Pops!

Saga, the epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan and award-winning artist Fiona Staples, is coming to Funko!

Saga depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, as they flee authorities from both sides of a galactic war. Traveling with their newborn daughter, Hazel, they encounter astonishing aliens, fearsome bounty hunters and a host of allies and enemies alike as they try and keep their new family safe.

The figures are out this February. Figures include Lying Cat, Alana, Marko, Prince Robot IV, and The Will. Look for The Will chase! A rarity of 1-in-6.

Look for exclusives! Izabel the ghostly babysitter is available at Hot Topic!

Check your local comic book shop for a bloody version of Lying Cat! A Previews exclusive.

At Barnes & Noble look for pink Lying Cat.

Review: Runaways: Parental Guidance

It’s Wednesday which means comics are hitting comic stores all across the world. This week from Marvel is a trade dedicated to the Runaways!

Runaways: Parental Guidance collects issues #13-18 by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, Craig Yeung, and Christina Strain.

Get your copy at comic and book stores 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.

Runaways: Parental Guidance
Amazon or TFAW

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: Runaways #1

The beloved Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona-created teen superhero team the Runaways are back with a new volume and an all-star creative team featuring writer Rainbow Rowell, artist Kris Anka, and Eisner winning colorist Matthew Wilson. Although it is a fantastic character study of Nico Minoru and her life post-Runaways and A-Force, Runaways #1 feels more like a zero issue than the first issue of a new series. It tries to tie up threads from previous stories like bringing Gert Yorke back from the dead via time travel so the team can have its “classic lineup”. The plot is Rowell refurbishing an old house, putting metaphorical bubble gum on leaky gutters instead of building a new one. However, with Gert back to her snarky old self and a mysterious final page, it looks like Runaways #2 and beyond will hopefully have more of Rowell and Anka’s vision for the team as a whole.

On a craft level, Runaways #1 is nearly flawless. Rainbow Rowell doesn’t fall into the prose writer-to-comics trap of over narration with her captions helping show Nico’s fear and anxieties about her magical abilities. She also writes plenty of snappy dialogue to counterbalance the angsty captions. They complement Kris Anka’s art work, who uses a lot of double page layouts for quick, readable storytelling because most of the issue is an emotions-running-high medical procedure gone wrong with Nico constantly trying to find the right spell to bring back Gert from near death. This allows for touches of comedy like her accidentally summoning a podiatrist instead of a surgeon as well as for Matthew Wilson to do all kinds of splashy, energy colors. Nico’s staff of one abilities could also be seen as a metaphor for the creative process and trying to balance originality and telling a story that still resonates. Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, and kind of, Noelle Stevenson had great Runaways runs, what new is there to add in 2017?

Hopefully, Kris Anka will be able to stay on Runaways for quite some time. He’s known as a great artist of attractive men and women and Nico, Chase, Gert, and unnamed podiatrist are all beautiful or stylish in their own way. (I loved the podiatrist’s cool googles and clear head in an insane situation and hope she returns even though Nico wiped her memory with a Wizard of Oz inspired spell.) However, Anka’s faces aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but also great at telling a story. Nico’s range of expressiveness throughout the story is impressive as she goes from breaking down over the possibility of her friend Gert dying to confidently casting a healing spell with some pinks from Wilson and then looking concerned when Gert still is near death. Anka can show emotions via gesture too like Chase holding his hair in frustration or accidentally burning herself by making ramen, which Chase shows his concern for by grasping his hand. Without trotting out a whole lot of lore, Rowell and Anka use these touches, glances, and sometimes words to show a pre-baked relationship between Nico, Chase, and Gert, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the rest of the team, especially a much missed Molly Hayes.

Even if Runaways #1 has the slick dialogue and inking style of a modern comic, it reminded me a lot of what made Chris Claremont’s work on the X-titles so great. My favorite parts of those books weren’t the space battles, globe trotting, and supervillain fights, but seeing how these superhuman people reacted to human situations like heartbreak, leaving home (See early Kitty Pryde stories.), or the inability to connect with another person intimately. (Rogue’s entire arc.) Rowell, Anka, and Wilson mine a similar vein by starting the comic with a slow-paced look at Nico’s post-superhero career existential crisis featuring a dumpy apartment and issues with her magic before unleashing a double page splash of Chase carrying Gert Supergirl in Crisis on Infinite Earths way.

In Runaways #1, Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka tell a story about guilt, fractured friendship, and trying to create your own identity in your early twenties that happens to feature magical surgery, time travel, a dinosaur, and a smorgasbord of gorgeous colors by Matthew Wilson.

Story: Rainbow Rowell Art: Kris Anka Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story: 7.0 Art: 9 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Panel Syndicate Releases Barrier #5, the Final Issue!

Panel Syndicate has announced that Barrier #5, the final installment of the series, is now available on the digital platform. Barrier is by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente.

The digital comic is an unconventional take about aliens and immigration and “about the way language can divide us, by using the (hopefully?) universal language of comics.” As with all comics on the platform it’s pay what you want. Even coming in at an impressive 48 pages of story, it’s still pay what you want as is the previous four issues.

Panel Syndicate has also announced that it will be adding even more series to their platform in addition to Private Eye, Universe!, and Blackhand Ironhead.

Vaughan also announced that starting today, 100% of whatever is earned from contributions for this or any previous issues of Barrier will go directly to Marcos, Muntsa and their family.

We Stand On Guard Wears its Canadian Flag Like a Patch on an American Backpack in Europe

I probably shouldn’t take We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce too seriously as a political commentary on Canadian-American relations or American military-industrial imperialism. On its face, as an action comic, it’s pretty paint-by-numbers, relying on standard set pieces and cardboard characters, which essentially serve to get us from one highly-detailed, impressively-rendered explosion to the next.

But I’m a Canadian. A Canadian who grew up an Army brat in 70’s French immersion schools, graduated high school on a Cold War base in Germany, opposed the 1987 Free Trade Accord, demonstrated against the 1990’s-era budget cuts, got tear-gassed by my own military protesting the 2001 Free Trade Area of the Americas, froze my ass off protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and is writing this as Canada “celebrates” (if that’s the right word) the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge and lines up behind President Trump as he sets up another regime change.

I’d like to say that We Stand on Guard plays with a number of Canadian myths and symbols – we start, for instance, in the year 2112, two hundred years after the War of 1812. For certain Canadians, including one of the kids in the book, this represents the first, last, and only time that “Canada” (although as is rightly pointed out, we weren’t yet an actual country) beat the USA in a shooting war. The British burning of the White House in 1814 is one of those things that we pull out every now and again (usually over beers during a gold medal hockey game).

In the book, the White House has indeed been burned to the ground – and the American invasion begins with the bombing of Ottawa in retaliation (although it is never proven – nor disproven – that Canadians did it). Of course, it’s all a pretext for expropriating Canada’s fresh water. A simple enough idea – but one that rests on a fundamental mischaracterization of how Canada actually works.

We’ve had our differences with the USA, certainly, mostly due to our being a British colony. My current home of Montreal was captured during the Revolutiionary War in 1775; in 1812, the US and UK went to war; in the 1860’s a group of Irish-Americans called the Fenians conducted a series of raids against British North America. You could say that one of the chief purposes of creating the Dominion of Canada was to defend British subjects against America. But at the same time, we have always relied on the size and proximity of the American marketplace as a customer for our abundant and cheap natural resources.

Seminal economic historian Harold Innis famously wrote of the Canadian economy as essentially being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” From our beginnings as Nouvelle-France and Rupert’s Land to the present day, Canada’s value has fundamentally been as a supplier of natural resources – cod, coal, fur and felt, timber, nickel, wheat, potash, oil and gas, etc. As we evolved politically, we have remained pretty much the same economically.

Which brings me to the point where We Stand On Guard is pure fantasy: America would never have to invade Canada to get our water.

First, American or multinational companies would simply buy pumping rights, one lake at a time. And we would happily sell it to them. After all, as the chairman of Nestlé put it recently, “water is not a human right.” It’s a natural resource, as marketable as any oil, wheat, or timber, and we’ve never put up too much of a fight to think of it any other way.

Second, if Canada or any of the Canadian provinces put up any resistance, they would be sued under NAFTA’s infamous Chapter 11 Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. Private corporations are allowed to sue public government against expectations of potential profit, and decisions are made by a secret and binding tribunal. Canada is the most-sued nation under NAFTA, most often for environmental laws. The US has never lost a NAFTA Chapter 11 case.

Third, if the White House ever did give us the stinkeye and ask us to dance, there’s no way we’d drop the gloves on them. Justin Trudeau, having dreamily campaigned on being the progressive option after a decade of Conservative reign, promptly approved the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines, over the objections of the First Nations he promised to respect. Trudeau, while in opposition, voted for an anti-terrorist bill which gives the government unlimited rights to spy on citizens, and also created the term “economic terrorist” in order to dispose of pesky anti-pipeline treehuggers. Much the same way the Harper government jailed – er, detained, sorry – hundreds of G20 protestors in Toronto, the way Chrétien pepper-sprayed his G20 protestors, the way Trudeau the First rounded up hundreds of Québécois under the War Measures Act, the way that Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis padlocked the doors of anyone he suspected of being a Communist, the way that Japanese Canadians were jailed – sorry, interned – during World War Two, the way that Ukrainian Canadians were similarly interned as “seditious aliens” during World War One, the way that First Nations children were rounded up to have the “Indian-ness” beaten out of them in residential schools. Canada is not now, nor ever has been, a nation of saints.

True, we do occasionally put up some resistance: I’m thinking of how Lyndon Johnson grabbed Nobel Peace Prize winner PM Lester B. Pearson by his lapels for not following the US into Viet Nam, growling, “You pissed on my rug!” Trudeau and Nixon were not exactly best buddies: Nixon once called Trudeau an asshole. Trudeau replied, “I’ve been called worse things by better people.” And, thanks in part to a protest in Montreal in 30-below zero (Celsius – that’s minus 20 degrees F), Canada didn’t follow the US into Iraq. But I can guarantee you that, had the Prime Minister been a Conservative from Alberta and not a Liberal from Quebec, a Montreal protest would have meant about as much as Quebec anti-conscription protests meant in 1917 and 1944: rien pantoute, nothing at all. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

Now, I understand that We Stand On Guard is meant to be a fun action book. But surely there could be more creative and subversive ways of portraying an entirely fictional Canadian resistance to an American military invasion. As I was reading, the missed opportunities piled up like timber. For instance: while I was happy to see my family’s hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan get a shoutout from the captured resistance leader (complete with ladypart joke about the Queen City’s pronounciation), Vaughan could have just as easily made her an actual Mountie (Regina is the HQ of the RCMP and its Academy). “The American” counter-terrorism commander is revealed to be from Canada – but where she could have made a very simple argument about shocking and aweing her own countrymen (the Canadian military being under American command in NORAD, for instance), she’s given a story about having moved to New York as a kid. The resistance cell calls itself the Two-Four (after a 24-bottle case of beer): why not the May Two-Four, in celebration of the most Canadian of holidays, Victoria Day? It’s even something else in Quebec, where the third Monday in May is the Journée des Patriotes, in honour of the 1830’s rebels from what would become Ontario and Quebec fighting for representative  democracy. And never once are we actually treated to a rendition of “O Canada”, in either official language (the French version, by the way, is the original).

Speaking of which: to use Vaughan’s own line, the French in this book sucks. They couldn’t have asked someone to check it? I’ve had the same issue with Chapterhouse’s Captain Canuck and Northguard comics. Language is the linchpin of the Québécois identity – the ability to speak not only French, but the local joual vernacular, is what, in the ears of many, makes you a “real” Quebecker or not. At any rate, to my ear, a Québécois who doesn’t utter a single “criss de câlice de Saint-Ciboire de tabarnak” under fire is just as wrong as a Jewish character who doesn’t speak a word of Yiddish. It’s absolutely essential to character. Never mind the straight-up grammatical and spelling errors that a French proofreader should have caught.

So We Stand On Guard is a comic full of lazy shortcuts by an otherwise good writer who has access to Canadian culture (as he’s married to a Canuck, and his artist is also from the Great White North). Why he couldn’t have, or just didn’t, take the time to invest in something more genuinely interesting, is maddening to me. Not only does this book not dig into a certain set of Canadian myths and symbols, it doesn’t even present them accurately. It’s neither subversive nor playful; neither serious enough nor fun enough. This comic wears its Canadian flag like a patch on an American backpack in Europe.

I must say this, though: I would buy a comic called The Littlest Robo in a heartbeat.

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