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Review: Briggs Land: Lone Wolves TPB

*Minor Spoilers Below*

If you are a citizen of the United States, you can own your own land, but what do you really own? What can you do on that land? Can you form your own laws? As most people find out, the answer is no. But what about your own country? This is a concept that has been discussed before. People have discussed Texas leaving the United States, and just recently the same was mentioned regarding California. Everyone knows about The Civil War of course. So the idea of a separate set of ideals and laws inside of the United States isn’t new. But what about a large swath of private land that is within a state forming it’s own nation, instead of the entire state itself? Could they have their own rules, borders, and citizens immune from the greater United States federal laws? These are the questions that Briggs Land ask and begin to answer.

This isn’t a standalone comic series. It is actually the successor to the original Briggs Land comic that ended at #6 from the same creative team that gives us this book, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves. This trade can really be seen as Briggs Land #7-12, but instead, they went with the Lone Wolves subtitle. Perhaps it is the fact that #1 issues sell more, but for whatever reason they decided to forgo the numbering, and take this route. Either way, the story continues and it is excellent.

Brian Wood crafts a tense story that shows a community of multiple generations living off the land, and how the United States government, DEC, FBI, and everyone else has to deal with it. The story mostly follows Grace Briggs, and her three sons who help her run the operation which takes place in Upstate NY, not far from the Canadian border. Grace has been trying to fix the things her husband Jim (who is in prison) have made over the years. The community is attracting the junkies from all over the area, having turmoil within, and is constantly on the watch of the police, ATF, FBI, and more. You can draw similar while not direct correlations to Waco, Texas and the tragedy there, the recent Buddy family standoff in Oregon, and the Montana Freeman in the 1990s. That isn’t to say this story borrows everything from those, but the theme of a tense situation of law enforcement and private citizens has its precedent.

That isn’t to say that Briggs Land is the first form of media to tackle this topic, but it isn’t something you see often in comics. Sure, the medium has changed from just pulp noir and superhero comics over the years, but even for the ever changing scope of comic books, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves feels fresh and new. The show is currently in development at AMC, with the writer of the comic, Brian Wood writing the pilot.

As I have stated in previous single issue reviews that I did for Briggs Land, I am always impressed by the artwork that Mack Chatter creates. He has a very realistic approach, and captures emotion perfectly. I am happy to report that he continues the trend of fantastic work in this book. I found myself looking at the facial expressions of the characters in quieter scenes to try to see if I could interpret what each character was feeling or thinking. Sure I had no way to know if my perception was accurate, but I found it so interesting. Everyone feels real, and layered. He and Brian are a great team, and I look forward to more work from them in the future.

Vanesa R. Del Ray and Werther Dell’Edera also give unique styles with their artwork for the book. While I prefer the book to be Wood and Chatter, these two artists did enough with their material to stand out and be recognizable from the rest of the book. I tend to prefer one artist on a book, as it makes for a seamless reading experience and makes everything seem to flow better, but I liked both of their work, and they both provide something new for the series. Lee Loughridge soars on colors, and I have to mention the excellent use of muted tones like light blues, browns, greens, and more that are used in this book so effectively. Instead of just a deep green for a foliage scene, Loughridge will use different shades of the color to really bring life to whatever the artist has drawn. There are also some very good uses of only a few colors being used in a panel, with one being dominant. For example, the inside of a store the characters are in may seem all yellow, with a little green and blue to give a very indie feel to the scene. It isn’t used all of the time, but when it is, it is done very well.

I recommend this book not just to anyone who has read the first Briggs Land, but to new readers as well. You should read the first trade, Briggs Land: State of Grace not only to know what is going on, but also because it is also excellent. The philosophical questions raised in this book are fun to chew on. How free are we? And how far is a community, or even a private citizen allowed to go before the government intervenes. I am excited where this series goes from here, and have high hopes that the tv show happens and happens soon. It is also exciting to read a story that takes place around where I grew up. Seeing cities like Albany, Malone, Utica, and more bring a smile to my face, even in the dark world that Briggs Land presents.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Mack Chatter & Vanesa R. Del Ray & Werther Dell’Edera Colors: Lee Loughridge Letterer: Nate Pikos of Blambot Cover: Mack Chatter & Brian Wood
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Briggs Land Returns with Briggs Land: Lone Wolves

Welcome to Briggs Land: nearly a hundred square miles of rural wilderness, representing the largest anti-government secessionist movement in the United States. The battle continues in the second series: Briggs Land: Lone Wolves, featuring New York Times best-selling writer Brian Wood and interior artist Mack Chater, and colorist Lee Loughridge. Matthew Woodson and art legend Kim Jung Gi lend their respective artistic skills to the cover and variant cover.

The first issue Briggs Land: Lone Wolves finds Isaac Briggs seeking the solace of the hiking trails around Briggs Land as he comes to terms with his past military service in Afghanistan. When two random backpackers accidentally wander onto the Land, an innocent situation quickly turns dangerous and threatens to expose the Briggs family to the media.

Brian Wood is currently adapting Briggs Land for AMC TV, serving as writer and executive producer, with producing partners A24.

The first issue Briggs Land: Lone Wolves (of six) goes on sale June 14, 2017.

briggs-land-lone-wolves-1-cover-by-matthew-woodson briggs-land-lone-wolves-1-variant-cover-by-kim-jung-gi

Dark Horse “Number Ones” Anthology in March for $6

Trying to decide what to read next and not sure where to start? Dark Horse Comics has the perfect offering for your next binge read! Join their all-star roster of creators in the value-priced collection Dark Horse Number Ones, which contains full debut issues of eight different comics series for just six bucks and is slated for release on March 29, 2017.

Whether you’re looking for science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, or action/adventure, this affordable collection includes an issue for everyone, including entire first issues from some of Dark Horse’s most notable creators:

  • Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy #1
  • Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell #1
  • Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich’s Lady Killer #1
  •  Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer #1
  • Matt and Sharlene Kindt’s Dept. H #1
  • Brian Wood and Mack Chater’s Briggs Land #1
  • Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County #1
  • Kurtis Wiebe and Mindy Lee’s Bounty #1

This full-color, 224-page trade paperback retails at just six dollars!  Find your new comics muse or hero in the Dark Horse Number Ones collection!


Review: Briggs Land #6

unname2dYou have probably heard by now that AMC has optioned Briggs Land to be a show, and Briggs Land #6 and the issues before it show us why. It isn’t just the great slow burn and pressure cooker storytelling by Brian Wood, or the deeply flawed yet very real characters drawn by Mack Chatter. Though both of these creators along with Lee Loughridge on colors and Tula Lotay on cover art do great jobs at building the world and characters of Briggs Land, it’s something more. To me, each comic feels like an episode of television, or at least smaller episodes, with really powerful scenes. It is effective, and you can already see why it would work on television.

You can feel the tension in this issue, and all of the moving parts being set into place. You constantly have this feeling that things are going to get very ugly, very soon, and the series has certainly given us a few moments, but you just feel like something much worse is coming, and it almost feels like it will in an issue that will feel like it is written for a season finale. Comic books have always been an excellent source of serial storytelling, complete with cliffhangers at the end of an issue. We’ve seen that going all the way back to the oldest detective and superhero comics, as well as radio shows. But Briggs Land doesn’t feel like it has cheap cliffhangers. Instead, it feels like solid episodic storytelling. The issues flow together, much like a season of television, and it works well.

While I have talked about television, I don’t want to lose sight of what this review is about, a great comic book. Grace is pulling a lot of strings, and this issue didn’t do a lot to show me who she really is, besides a very smart survivor. We are given someone who is seemingly our hero, and the communities new leader, but like every leader, she has to do some things she isn’t proud of. Now we aren’t talking full Walter White quite yet, but it is familiar territory to that of Breaking Bad. How much does she know that her white supremacist son, Caleb is doing, and how okay is she with it? Is she willing to turn a blind eye to things that she needs to get what she needs? Perhaps, at least for now, but there is a reason for everything. We have already seen her help out a young woman earlier in the book, and protect her community at all costs. Only time will tell, but compared to the other members of this family, outside of her youngest son maybe, Grace seems like a saint.


Speaking of Caleb, that is a scary character. We have seen him mostly calm, but that is what is scary. The way Mack Chatter draws the swastika tattoo just under his tank top gives me chills. You don’t need to always see it, you know it’s there. It’s almost metaphorical and reminds us that not everyone is as they seem in the world. We have seen a little what he is capable of, and he reminds me of the villain from No Country for Old Men played by Javier Bardem. He doesn’t lose control much, but he is so focused and so menacing, and Caleb appears to be cut of a similar cloth, even if he has not gone off the deep end fully yet. Well, there is the bit with how he acquired the hardware store, so we have seen some of that side of him, but I still expect his full potential to be far worse.

This is a great series, and it feels like it has it’s pulse to the real world right now. We are six issues in, and a few into the second arc, and Julianne Moore (she looks just like her!), I mean Grace Briggs has been seen meddling with ATF agents, her own sons, and more. What is her full plan? What will happen after the conversation she has with her lawyer on the final page? As she says, this has to work, swear to god… because there will be repercussions. Sorry Grace, but I cannot wait to see what those repercussions are!

Story: Brian Wood Art: Mack Chatter Color: Lee Loughridge Cover: Tula Lotay
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

The Best Comics Of 2016 – Joe’s List

2016 was a good year for comics. Sure, there was some bad, but overall, it was a good year for the industry. A lot can happen in 365 days, so there is bound to be ups and downs, and this year was no different. As with every year, we saw good series end too soon, bad series go on too long, and new series, whether good or bad, enter the ring.

There were new series like Black Hammer, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, and Animosity. Even existing characters were given new and fresh takes like The Vision by Tom King. Doom Patrol returned in a very fun and weird way. Both Detective and Action Comics continued their fantastic legacy. Superman, Wonder Woman and more DC books returned to great storytelling and adventures. We got two new characters taking the mantle of Iron Man in Dr. Doom and Riri Williams, and watched as a few more Marvel legends lost their lives.

Like every year, there were also big events. There were the good like fantastic events like DC Rebirth and disappointing ones in Civil War II. Inhumans fought with X-Men. Spider-Man started having a clone conspiracy. There were major controversies that crossed into mainstream media with Hydra-Cap. Sad moments like Chelsea Cain with Mockingbird.  And to close out the year, the release of the beautiful and emotional Love is Love.

We saw more diversity in comics, both in characters and creative teams. Moon Girl, Riri Williams, and Amadeus Cho all shot up the ranks of Marvel’s brightest heroes. New titles like Alters, and Black were released. Gay superheroes Midnighter and Apollo have a six issue run that is still going. Ta-Nahesi Coates joined Marvel to write Black Panther, as did Roxanne Gay on World of Wakanda. It is apparent the industry is changing, and there’s still a lot that needs to be done, but this year was an improvement, and a step forward.

We also lost famed Preacher and The Punisher artist Steve Dillon. 2016 was a year, like any year that saw comics released in it, so let’s give you another unnecessary ranking list based off of my opinions!

Best Superhero Comic – The Vision

 vision__12This could be in best surprises too. Tom King really took the comic world by storm this year, and this was one of the reasons why. He had other fantastic titles released as well, and they will be mentioned in this article, but The Vision was something so refreshing and so different for Marvel. A perfect run that didn’t feel too short, or too long, is something I don’t always say for Marvel books. The Vision truly felt perfect in almost every way.

It wasn’t just King that made this title so great, as Gabriel Hernandez Walta provided some wonderful art that captured some horrific and heartbreaking moments. It is amazing to realize that a book about synths had some of the most human moments of the year. That’s the power of an amazing creative team, and I bow to the both of them, and to Marvel for taking a chance on such an odd and awesome book.

Runners Up:

  • Detective Comics – As good as The Vision is, and as many lists it will sit at the top of, I was almost the guy to pick another title for my top superhero book. That book is Detective Comics. James Tynion IV has created a fantastic and classic run on the long running title. The way he captures the bat family is perfect. There was so many moments. Tim Drake. Batwoman and her father. Clayface being just awesome. Spoiler and her recent moment. Batman and his role as a leader and mentor. We also got some great art from Alvaro Martinez and others. What a fantastic book, and it just keeps getting better.
  • Wonder Woman – This is one of DC’s most consistent comics, and it does so by juggling two alternating storylines in different time periods. Greg Rucka writes a fantastic Diana. I have enjoyed going through the range of emotions she has been put through as we watch her learn of man and our world in one time period, and the lies she is being faced with and the struggle to keep her sanity in the other. Also her relationships with both Steve and Barbara are some of the best I have seen yet in her comic. The art by Nicola Scott, Liam Sharp and others was consistently awesome.
  • Superman – This is one of the other most consistent comics from DC. In my top 5 superhero books, I have three from DC, and there is a good reason. Honestly, Action Comics almost made it’s way into the list as well. Like the other books, this is another return to greatness after Rebirth for DC. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have proven before they know Supes, Jon, and others as they write them so well. There has been so much great art by talents like Doug Mahnke, and so many good moments throughout the series.  Yes, to one of my good friends, even Krypto being pulled from the chest of The Eradicator counts as one of those moments, that was awesome too.
  • Power Man and Iron Fist – I can say without hesitation that David Walker has done an amazing job on this series. Even when he had to do a Civil War II tie in, he made it work. What amazes me most is that the series just keeps getting better. Sanford Greene has such an incredible and original art style that you instantly recognize, and together these two creative powerhouses have easily made this one of my favorite comics of 2016. The return of that certain Runaways character as the big bad makes it even better!

Best Non-Superhero Comic – Saga

 saga_33-1While I struggled with picking my top comics since I love all of these, Saga takes the cake due to consistency, most memorable moments, and my deep investment Saga takes the cake due to consistency, most memorable moments, and my deep investment to this incredible series. This comic is the one I constantly cannot wait to read, and that is due to the amazing work by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. We all know how good they both are, but they just kept the ball rolling in my opinion this year. Sure we had some slower arcs, but the overall big picture to this book just keeps getting bigger, and crazier.

There were so many moments that made me smile, tear up, and cliffhangers that left me with my mouth hanging open. Not a lot of comics do that to me, and Saga did it countless times. There is a reason this series is so popular, and is still going. It is just fantastic storytelling, with awesome world building. You don’t just care about the mother, father, and daughter, but the prince, his child, the lying cat, and so many others. You truly feel invested in these people, their actions, and their lives. I cannot wait to see where it goes next.

Runners Up:

  • Animosity – This is such a brilliant comic. The premise seems simple. Have animals take over the world and dominate humanity. But it’s the execution and creativeness behind this title by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre that blows me away. The art is great, and the storytelling is brilliant. Sandor and Jesse have a fantastic and loving relationship, and each issue packs a ton of suspense. A great title from Aftershock Comics.
  • The Wicked + The Divine – What an original book, with fantastic art. I am a sucker for Jamie McKelvie on art and Kieron Gillen is no slouch on writing either. Together they have crafted a beautifully looking yet chaotic tale of vanity, arroagance, obsession, love, power, and so much more. When you have a book filled with pop star icon gods and godesses, I guess anything is possible.
  • Black Science – It is no secret that I am a big Rick Remender fan. He has done so much great work, and is only getting better in my opinion. This year alone he had so many good books going on at the same time, and delivered on every one. Black Science was the most consistent, and best work in my opinion. This is a crazy book that moves at a fast pace, and you truly never know what happens next. Now that is something you can say for any Remender book, but with the element of time and dimension hopping, he really goes there in this book. Fantastic series.
  • The Sheriff of Babylon – What a refreshing comic, and a reminder to people that no, comics aren’t just superheroes. Tom King had an amazing year this year, and is one of the best writers in general, and like The Vision, this is one of the reasons why. This is a gritty, violent, hard to look at book with some great art by Mitch Gerads. These two creators tell a tale of corruption, war, politics, and much more in a book that feels so deep and something that you’d see on tv or in the movies. This is a definite recommendation of mine.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank


You know you’ve got something good on your hands when you’ve released three issues in 2016 and you’re making this much of a splash. Matt Rosenberg and Tyler Boss gave us those three issues and they were packed with awesome adventures and incredible nostalgia to my childhood era. This book is already a classic to me, and there’s a few issues still to come.

I have reviewed the comic, and gave it a ten across the board, and I am sure the final issues will earn those scores as well. Hats off to Black Mask Studios, to Matt Rosenberg, and to Tyler Boss for making something so special, so raw, and so damn good. Remember, this is just about 4 kids who catch one of their fathers doing sketchy stuff with sketchy people. This isn’t some deep time travel plot, or fantasy adventure. It is a simple premise executed with brilliant creative fashion. It is in the writing, the panels, and the lettering. I cannot wait for the last few issues!

Runners Up:

  • Civil War II: Kingpin – Yes, another Matt Rosenberg book, and for good reason. He has three Marvel series coming, with one, Rocket Raccoon, already beginning. This book was violent, raw, gritty, over the top, and featured Frank Castle. Every issue was fantastic, and I felt like he really gets Fisk’s character so well. The art by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz was loosely sketched and fit the series violent and chaotic tones so well. I cannot wait to read the ongoing beginning in February written by the man who wrote this miniseries so well.
  • AD: After Death – Two books into this fantastic series, and I am already crowning it one of the best of 2016. There is one book left, but remember, when I say book, I mean just that. The second book comes close to one hundred pages, and they are beautifully written by Scott Snyder and beautifully painted by Jeff Lemire. I still do not know all of the answers to the cure of death, and the world below, but I know enough to say this is one fantastic series, and something truly special for the medium.
  • Minighter and Apollo – Another series that only is halfway done, but that halfway point has been fantastic. Not only is it fantastic that we are getting a different kind of superhero book where the two male protagonists are lovers, but they aren’t cliche, or stereotypical, or offensive. They are three dimensional, like real gay people actually are, except one has a computer in his head and can take on an army, and the other is a god. Steve Orlando has done a fantastic job on this, and so has Fernando Blanco on art. I hope we get an ongoing after this!
  • Superman: American Alien – This was a really fun book. We get different chapters of Superman’s life, from his childhood where he is trying to understand who he is and what these powers are, to him meeting Lois and being a reporter. We get some fantastic moments with him hanging out with his friends, getting drunk, and learning how to live as a god among men. I love the parts with his parents, and seeing not just their stress, but their overwhelming love. Max Landis and a who’s who of amazing artists like Jock, Joelle Jones, Francis Manipul, and more make this one of the best books of the year.

Best Writer – Rick Remender

img_0408I could have gone with Tom King, or the other three excellent writers on my list, and none of them would have been wrong. Even someone like Rosenberg who made two of my favorite limited series could have been here. None of these lists are easy, as you see I keep saying, but if I had to pick just one writer this year, it would be Rick Remender. It isn’t just the quality of the content he made, which is very high, but the volume of it as well.

This year, we saw Black Science, Deadly Class, Low, Seven to Eternity, and Tokyo Ghost. The crazy part, is all of those comics were fantastic. You constantly hear that so many writers are taking on too many titles, and that their writing takes a major hit. I do not think that was the case this year for Remender, and actually, I think it was one his best years, which is saying a lot. The beautiful thing is that all of these series will still be going into 2017, as even Tokyo Ghost which will be returning.

Runners Up:

  • Tom King – What a phenomenal year Tom King had. The Sherrif of Babylon, The Vision, and Batman. Most writers would be proud writing one of those titles, and while his run on Batman isn’t everyone’s favorite, I am enjoying it quite a bit. I enjoy a different take on a character, and he is playing with the caped crusaders weaknesses, and making him human. As mentioned previously, both Sheriff and Vision are absolutely incredible, and I cannot wait to see what we get from him next.
  • Jason Aaron – I feel like Jason Aaron needs more love when it comes to the best writers of 2016. He was a beast this year. Southern Bastards, The Mighty Thor, The Unworthy Thor, Doctor Strange, Star Wars, and The Goddamned. I wish we got more Southern Bastards, but again as this list shows, you can see the guy is busy. He had a fantastic year, and because of that as a reader, so did I.
  • Brian K. Vaughn – There should be no shock that this name is on anyone’s list. He will probably be on most lists until the day he decides to stop writing. Both Saga and Paper Girls continue to be fantastic. I expect big things as these titles move forward, and hopefully we get another book. The more Vaughn, the better.
  • Jeff Lemire – Here is another writer that was a beast in 2016. Moon Knight, Old Man Logan, Descender, Bloodshot Reborn, Bloodshot U.S.A., Black Hammer, AD: After Death, and more. I am amazed at not only Lemire as a writer, but his work as an artist as well. I don’t know how he had time to do anything else this year but write and make art. A truly fantastic year for one of my favorite creators.

Best Artist –  Russel Dauterman

img_0409For the longest time, the background of my phone was The Mighty Thor #1. Now that I am typing this, I will be putting it back to that amazing artwork, because it is that good. Russel Dauterman is one of those artists in comics that you can just stare at his panels and pages for so long and see tiny details that just blow your mind. You will see me say things in reviews like, you are getting some real art here, as in pieces you could hang on your wall, and that is true of Dauterman’s work. The work is that good. Every panel could probably be framed and catch someone’s eye every time.

The way he draws his characters with such emotion is fantastic. Not to mention the way he draws frost giants, or the more modern version of Loki, or Jane, or Odinson, or Odin, or everyone in this comic! His work is fantastic, and he deserves to have it recognized. This is one of those artists, that when they take an issue or two off, you get sad. It’s that good.

Runners Up:

  • Andrew Maclean – Head Lopper was one of my favorite comics this year, and while the fun story was a lot of it, the art by Maclean was what caught my eye. It’s simultaneously violent and graphic, yet beautiful. The colors pop as our hero cuts the heads off of giant beasts.
  • FIona Staples – As I said early, Fiona captures her characters so well. Their emotions pour from the pages in her artwork, and I cannot imagine Saga without her. From Marko to Prince Robot to Hazel, she conveys who they are as people so well, as she always has with this excellent series. Also, her style is so original, that is is recognizable right away.
  • Jamie McKelvie – One of my favorite artists in general, and I would be happy if he drew ten more titles. The way he draws the Pantheon is so damn good. There is so much attitude and personality in The Wicked + The Divine, and McKelvie is a big reason why. Every character is drawn with such detail and life that they feel real, even if they are shallow pop star deities.
  • Andreas Sorrentino – Perhaps more than any artist this year, Sorrentino on Old Man Logan made my jaw hang open at the way he used splash pages. He is one of the most creative artists in the medium, and his work is dark and unique. There were so many breathtaking panels that he used this year on Logan, and it is one of the reasons that comic is as good as it is. Like Dauterman, I get sad when he isn’t on an issue or two.

Best New Series – Animosity

 bookanimosityMarguerite Bennett wrote one hell of a story this year in Animosity. This awesome title from Aftershock had one of the best first issues of the year, and the issues that followed kept that momentum up every time. Sandor is a hound protecting his owner, Jesse, a little girl who is scared when all of the other pets and animals in the world begin killing and targeting humans. We are only four issues in, and I feel like so much has happened. There is no doubt that this is one of the best new series of the year, and in my opinion, the best.

The art by Rafael de Latorre is fantastic, and the scenes in the book are filled with action, and keep you on the edge of your seat. The first issue alone had me yelling expletives in excitement, and the art as well as the storytelling is a big reason why. When a much scarier animal is trying to hurt Jesse, I love how protective Sandor is. He pulls no punches to protector his girl, and has the personality of an old and wise man mentor type. I think this is one everyone should check out, even if you have to wait for the trade, as it is hard to come by in many local comic shops.

Runners Up:

  • Seven to Eternity – What an awesome fantasy story from Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. Already we’ve seen some fantastic characters, an awesome big bad, an interesting protagonist with a deep legacy to his family name, and a plot that promises some crazy things will happen. Oh, and it’s only getting started.
  • Briggs Land – The comic that AMC wanted optioned as a show before most people had even heard about it. Brian Wood and Mack Chatter have given us a very raw and real look at a family that ran 100 acres of land the way they wanted to for years. Well now that the father is in prison, the mother, Grace, is taking things over, but has to deal with a few of her sons. It has been a realty good slow burn so far, with some intense scenes, and I bet it only gets better from here.
  • Dept. H – Matt Kindt is a very unique storyteller, and artist. His work is some of the most original in the business, and I always get excited when he works on a new title, especially when he does the art as well. This time he brings Sharlene Kindt in on watercolors and the final product is fantastic. They both do an excellent job bring this fantastic underwater claustrophobic adventure to life. This is an awesome whodunit comic and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
  • Kill Or Be Killed – This is a comic that is always at the top of my read list when it comes out. It shouldn’t be a shock that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips made an amazing pulp crime comic, but it is amazing that they make such a different one each time. This one follows a guy who is cursed with having to kill people, or lose his life in a deal he made with a demon who spared his life after an attempted suicide. I love this comic, and cannot wait to see where these creators take us.

Best Graphic Novel or Trade Paperback  – Love is Love


Moments like these are why I love this medium. Comic books are just a platform. Just like television, books, movies, etc. You can make whatever you’d like, and this is a fantastic example of that. After the horrible Orlando Pulse shootings, getting a book like this where the proceeds are donated to the families of those lost that day won’t fix the horrors, but maybe it can help us grieve and understand a little better. It can put a face not to the evil person who did this to these people just living their lives, but it can be a voice for the people who died that day.

In this anthology book we get so many amazing creators, not just in the comic industry, but from other mediums as well. This book choked me up more than once while reading these beautiful stories, or the powerful images in them. I don’t want to single any of them out, as there are too many to mention that are fabulous, and Logan from our site already did a fantastic job of that in his review, but as a whole, this book is so important, and so incredible, and while it makes me sad it has to exist, it is necessary that it does.

Runners Up:

  • Dark Night: A Batman Story – What a painful yet beautiful telling of such a horrific true event in Paul Dini’s life. We get to see Dini working on Batman: The Animated Series, and help narrate the tale himself with the help from Batman, Harley, Two Face, Joker, and more as we get a very personal look at his life. This was a very sad, very brave, and very good book.
  • The Prince of Cats – Romeo and Juliet in a 1980s block party. That is basically what this book is, and it is a lot of fun. It is filled with hip hop, bright clothing, sword fights, love, and more. It captures the spirit of the Shakespeare classic, as Ronald Wimberly puts his own creative spin on it. This was a very cool retelling of a story most people already know, but told in a new way.
  • Muhammad Ali – This was an enjoyable way to look at the life of an American icon, and sports legend. Sybil Le Titeux and Amazing Ameziane give us Ali as a child, his work with Islam, his fighting techniques, and so much more throughout his life. The art varies as it uses the pages and panels wisely, and we get some fantastic cameos from important people throughout the champs life.
  • Wonder Woman: The True Amazon – We saw a lot of Wonder Woman stories this year, and that is never a bad thing. Jill Thompson does such a beautiful job on art in this book. Everything looks hand painted and we get another origin story, but an enjoyable one. This is a good book to recommend to any fan of Diana, as it does it justice.

Best Genre – Fallen societies

briggs-land-1Now while this may not be defined as a genre, I read many fantastic comics this year that dealt with societies that had fallen to different degrees. There are groups of people that live on their self governed 100 acres in Briggs Land from Dark Horse by Brian Wood and Mack Chatter. The animals took over the world from the humans in Animosity from Aftershock by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre.  And there was the land of Zhal that was taken over and run by the God of Whispers in Seven to Eternity from Image Comics by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. We also saw titles like Shipwreck from Aftershock by Warren Ellis and Phil Hester, and Warlords of Appalachia from BOOM! Studios by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Jonas Scharf.

Maybe I am cynical, but I really enjoyed spending times in worlds that fell in some form. Some of these stories had the people choose to live off the land and govern themselves, saw their animals take their society from them, or saw them rise up against their government as their own militia. Either way, they provided some of my favorite moments in comics this year, and these were just a few of them.

Runners Up:

  • Fantasy – What a great year for fantasy titles. We saw Saga, Seven to Eternity, Lake of Fire, Green Valley, Reborn, The Mighty Thor, Klaus, Head Lopper, Monstress, and so many more. Most important, many of these were fantasy, but not in the traditional sense. We saw the fantasy genre mix with others, and it was a lot of fun. Keep them coming!
  • Crime drama – Another strong genre this year with Kill or Be Killed, Violent Love, Triggerman, and more. I love reading pulp crime stories, and this year brought some very solid entries.
  • MagicSure we got Doctor Strange which has been fantastic, but we also saw Ether, The Wicked + The Divine, Seven to Eternity, and more. Magic is always a fun story element, and we saw some good use of it this year.
  • The 1980s – Everything that was always comes back, and that is true of the 1980s. Whether it was popular properties like He-Man vs Thundercats, IDW’s Revolution event featuring Transformers, GI Joe and more, Escape From NY/Big Trouble in Little China, or The Lost Boys, we saw quite a bit of that generation this year. Even one of my favorite titles, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank felt so reminiscent of The Goonies or Stand by Me, while still feeling original. 2016 was a great representation of the 1980s.

Biggest Disappointment – Civil War II


I tried to defend the event after the first few issues, and the art by David Marquez is fantastic, but I can no longer defend this series. I like Brian Michael Bendis, even if I don’t like every series he has written lately. I think that Infamous Iron Man is very promising, and it was odd to me that one of my least favorite comics that released the week of Civil War #8 was written by the same person that wrote one of my favorites in Infamous Iron Man #3. So I don’t want to just make this about Bendis as a writer, because I know he is a good one.

But for whatever reason, be it delays, lack of editorial work or poor planning, this event did not do it for me. The way it ended felt wrong on so many notes, and leaves so much not settled. I also scratch my head at Captain Marvel being loved for what she did, and how they depicted her. I like her as a character, but I felt that this book really messed with who she was, and made her look horrible. While I enjoyed many things Marvel did this year, like Moon Knight, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Old Man Logan, this would be one of my least favorite.

Runners Up:

  • Death of X – If not for the awesome art by Aaron Kuder, this event is mostly forgettable. I didn’t hate the ending, I actually quite liked it, but the event as a whole felt so unnecessary, and a lesser version of the actual event that has had a really good first issue, Inhumans vs. X-Men. This could have been a one shot, but was hyped as something major for a long time.
  • Nighthawk/Mockingbird cancelled – Great books from great creators saw their run end way too soon. At least David Walker got Occupy Avengers and will be bringing Nighthawk into that book. Nighthawk was a gritty and fantastic book with a really interesting character. I look forward to seeing how he is used going forward. For Chelsea Cain, she got to issue 8 with a fun and original take on Bobbi Morse, but then chose to leave Twitter due to everyone getting upset over a comic book cover. Both of these things disappointed me quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this is a business, I just wish there was a better way to support books like these aside from pre-orders at local comic shops.
  • Fanboyism – I know this is an every year thing, but as time goes on, I truly scratch my head over the constant fight between fans of the big two. We got some great comics from both publishers, and many others this year as well. It’s silly, and the growth of social media, clickbait journalism, and memes have only made it worse. It was one thing when it was kids busting each other’s chops as friends, but now it has taken on a whole new level of ridiculousness. Stahp!
  • Marvel legacy characters – While I am happy that Marvel has done a great job on adding diverse characters, I am not sure what they are doing with so many of their legacy characters. We saw three of them fall in eight issues of a comic alone. Another is now a super evil double agent. And more are dead or in some sort of coma. I am all for these new heroes, I just prefer the way DC is doing it with Rebirth. Bring the new characters in under the old ones and have them mentor them. Or at least give some balance. I am hopefully this improves in the new year, or at least soon.

Best Publisher – DC 

 DC_Logo_RGB_031816It is hard to give this award to one publisher, as multiple publishers had so many great books this year. Though I will pick one, and that is DC. From the fantastic launch of DC Rebirth as a title, and then the great books that came out of it, to Young Animal, and Vertigo, their imprints and the books that came out of those, they have had one hell of a year. Detective Comics, Action Comics, Superman, Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol, The Sheriff of Babylon, and so on were all such fantastic and consistent titles for them, and while they have always been producing get content, it is great to see them get back to such focus.

They signed some amazing talent with writers Tom King, Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV, and artists like Liam Sharp, and Mitch Gerads to exclusive contracts. Not that they are the only talented people working on their books, because there are definitely more. Mikel Janin and Riley Rossmo both blew me away with their art this year. I was pleasantly surprised by DC this year, and I hope that trend to continue. I hope Marvel is paying attention to them, and while I do not want them to copy them, I would like to see somewhat of a Rebirth type event that can tie their legacy characters to their newer characters a little better, and give fans the best of both worlds.

Runners Up:

  • Dark Horse – They nearly took my top spot with such fantastic books as Black Hammer, Briggs Land, Dept. H, Ether, Hellboy, Harrow County, Lady Killer, Aliens and so much more. Very impressive year.
  • Image – So many titles, and they just keep adding more. Even Skybound has expanded with a few new titles. Image just keeps getting better with age.
  • Aftershock – With Animosity, Shipwreck, American Monster and more, Aftershock has proven it can hang with the best of them. Even with the start of 2017 we are seeing more promising titles like Blood Blister and The Lifespanners coming from some top talent.
  • BOOM! Studios – This year we saw BOOM! really expand its horizons with titles like Klaus, Warlords of Appalachia, Slam, and more while continuing to release their all ages comics that so many love like Goldie Vance, Adventure Time, and more. I expect we will see more serious titles like the Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins project, Grass Kings coming in 2017, and I am excited.

Review: Briggs Land #3

briggs-land-3I feel like I am reading a leaked script and storyboard for the next big thing.

Briggs Land takes place in my backyard. Okay maybe not literally in my back yard, but in Upstate NY. I grew up in this area of apple picking, craft beer, and about the prettiest autumn you could ever imagine. Those are some of the nice things in Upstate NY, but Briggs Land isn’t about any of those. Briggs Land is about Grace. I don’t mean the prayer you say before you eat a meal, but perhaps that works too since Grace does represent hope.

I have read all three issues of this fantastic series, and it is quite apparent without spoiling too much that it deals with what happens when a woman tries to lead in what has been conceivably a man’s world. Her husband Jim Briggs, who has run Briggs Land for a long time, is now in prison. In the first issue, we see Grace tell him that she is now going to take over the nearly one hundred acre community and return it to its roots. Of course, this means dealing with criminals and trying to restore order, much like a new Sheriff in a corrupt town in the old west. Grace must face opposition from all corners, including a few of her own sons. Noah is the loyal son, and he plays a major part in this issue which contains mostly him and Grace.

Brian Wood is crafting an excellent tale here, and it feels like it is a slowly burning powder keg. I have been on board with this series since this first issue, and I am still on board. Sure, recognizing the small towns surrounding this anti-government community that is deep in the wilderness makes me smile, but it’s more than that. It’s Brian’s writing. It’s Mack’s art. I feel like I am reading a leaked script and storyboard for the next big thing. AMC is developing the show for television, and when you read it you can see why. It would fit right in among the already fantastic stable of shows the network has.

Also, Mack Chatter’s art is awesome. It fits perfectly with the story. I want to ask him one day if Grace is based off of Julianne Moore, because so far, she is all I can see when I see Grace. Lee Loughridge also shines on color. The contrast of the deep blacks and greens of the forest with the grays of the road is the perfect backdrop to this tense story. The way this book does flashback scenes are also how I want everyone to do them now. The way the inks are lighter and the colors are faded blends so nicely and immediately tells the reader we are in the past.

The feds are investigating Briggs Land and trying to figure out if Grace’s husband, Jim Briggs is running it from prison, and what is really happening there. Only time will tell what will happen in Briggs Land, and this is just the end of the first arc, State Of Grace. This story is far from done with us, and I cannot wait to spend more time in my anti-government Upstate NY back yard that is Briggs Land.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Mack Chatter Color: Lee Loughridge Cover: Tula Lotay
 Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Around the Tubes

THIN #1 1It’s a new week and we’re gathering our thoughts about this weekend’s Small Press Expo while getting ready for New York Comic Con in a little over two weeks.

While you await this week’s new releases, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

CBLDF – Support CBLDF and Gear Up For Banned Books Week! – Go and support this wonderful organization.

Publisher’s Weekly – Spanish Graphic Novel Boom Reaches America – Great to see more European comics come to the US!

The ComiChron – More than 10 million comics ordered in August, most since 1996; Harley Quinn is #1 – The first part of the August breakdown.

CBLDF – D.C. Launches Banned Book Scavenger Hunt – This sounds really cool if you’re in the DC area.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Black Panther #6

Talking Comics – Briggs Land #2

Comic Attack – Dishonored #1

Talking Comics – Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1

Talking Comics – Resident Alien: The Man With No Name #1

Talking Comics – Thin #1

Talking Comics – Toil and Trouble HC

Talking Comics – Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #11

Around the Tubes

March Book Two CoverIt’s a brand new week and we’ve got more interviews, convention coverage, and more coming your way!

While you wait for things to kick off, here’s some news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Outhousers – Marvel to Promote STEAM to Kids by Making Money for Marvel with Variant Covers – Be nice if some of the money was donated to programs.

The Beat – When Stan Lee stops going to real conventions he’ll go to online conventions – This could be cool!

ICv2 – Owner of Awesome Con, Play Fair Acquired – Interesting…

ICv2 – Square Enix Enters North American Tabletop Games Market – Also interesing.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1

Comic Attack – Blood & Gourd #12

Talking Comics – Briggs Land #1

Talking Comics – Cursed #1

Talking Comics – Demonic #1

Deseret News – Dendo

BlogCritics – March Book Two

Talking Comics – Spawn Kills Everyone

Talking Comics – Suicide Squad #1

Talking Comics – Supergirl: Rebirth #1

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Batman #5Wednesdays 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.


Top Pick: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 (DC Comics) – I have long held the belief that for a very long time Birds of Prey is the one of the only DC comics that I religiously read. They’re like an all female Avengers , the story arcs are killer and it oozes girl power on every page. My deep connection with the comic made me watch every episode of that gawd awful TV show on the WB in the hopes that it would be less campy and get renewed. This new issue ushers in the Shawna & Julie Benson era and I’m excited to read it. There hasn’t been a women at the helm of these crime-fighting ladies since 2010 when Gail Simone was running the show. This story arc focuses on Oracle and her stolen identity. It gets bonus points because the women at the helm are TV writers who’ve written for The CW, where most of the DC Universe lives on the small screen, and this brings out all the hope I have for a TV reboot that is worth watching. It’s my top pick of the week because TV show or not, it’s good to get in on the ground floor of what I’m sure will be an interesting story arc.

Amelia Cole Versus The End of Everything (IDW Publishing) – Amelia Cole has an existence that straddles the line between Magic & Tech. There’s something pretty rad about having a woman being a total bad ass using her mind & strength over sex appeal to save the day and make a change. If you aren’t all caught up on the story , this is the last one so it’s a good gateway graphic novel to get you hooked enough to go back and read the whole story from the very beginning. We all need a little intrigue in our lives and there’s something kind of awesome about adding monsters to a story about fighting the power.

Black Widow #6 (Marvel) – The art is wicked good in this issue following the Black Widow in her Civil War II adventures and, the story is nothing to scoff at. Secrets are going to be tumbling out of her closet and there’s a possible Invincible Iron Man showdown in the mix. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out on the pages and on the screen. Grab some popcorn and brace yourself for what I’m sure will be an exciting read.



Top Pick: Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior #10 (Valiant) – As the fantastic Labyrinth comes to a close with what promises to be a bloody conclusion, I’m already looking ahead and wondering what seeds Robert Venditti has already planted for the future. This is easily one of my favourite series on the racks every week, and a large part of that is because of the way Venditti has carefully crafted the story over the past ten issues to culminate here (at least in part, I’m sure). I’ll have more to say in my review, but me expectations are pretty high at this point.

Batman #5 (DC Comics) – Speaking of high expectations: Tom King and David Finch’s Batman is one of the many great things coming from DC post Rebirth, and the tale of the rise and fall of two young heroes has me thoroughly enraptured.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Wild Card #5 (Dynamite Entertainment) – I gotta say that this miniseries has surprised me. I never expect to enjoy the Dresden comics a much as I do – I still prefer the books, but the comics aren’t far off.

Klaus #7 (BOOM! Studios) – Seems a little odd reading about Santa in August, but at this point his yearly visit is only four months away.  Grant Morrison’s origin story is coming to a close, which is bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to finally getting to finish the story.

Superman #5 (DC Comics) – Apparently, I’m a Superman fan post-Rebirth. Who knew?



Top Pick: Black Hammer #2 (Dark Horse Comics) – The first issue of Black Hammer was a strong beginning to an intriguing premise that, though this is a story with superheroes, is more about dealing with the glory of fame being a thing of the past. It will be really interesting to see what Lemire, Ormston and Stewart do with these characters whom bask in the nothingness of the present or remain stuck in their own ‘golden days’.

Descender #14 (Image Comics) – This current arc has progressed the plot in a slower pace but has been a treat so far. Lemire with Nguyen’s gorgeous artwork, have been diving into the backstory of a couple different characters. Each of the covers reveals whom is to be of focus for that issue and from the looks of this issue, Bandit, the loveable pet-bot will be front and center.

The Wicked + The Divine #22 (Image Comics) – The finale to the current arc arrives and there is sure to be blood shed and tears wept by fans. This arc has been particularly brutal, upping the violence as the Gods continue to duke it out with Minerva being the focus for both sides.

Black Widow #6 (Marvel) – Thankfully, Black Widow is one of the few titles not really affected or tied-in to the Civil War II event (at least yet). It has been a continuously fun, emotional, and adventurous ride so far with the creative team having yet to really falter at all. The Weeping Lion has finally shown his cards and revealed a myriad of still unknown but potentially dangerous information with Black Widow being heavily involved.



Top Pick: Batman #5 (DC Comics) – I’ve read this issue already and holy crap is it amazing. This doesn’t feel like a Batman issue. This feels like the finale to an epic DC event. It’s that grand in scope and just fantastic from beginning to end. I actually wish there was more to the issue it’s that cinematic and such a good read.

Briggs Land #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – A solid debut issue that introduces us to a family that resembles a certain Bundy family.

Garth Ennis’ Red Team: Double Tap, Center Mass #2 (Dynamite Entertainment) – I love noir/crime/cop stories and this series which focuses on crooked cops by Garth Ennis should scratch that itch for folks. The first volume was fantastic and this second one kicked off in a good way.

Horizon #2 (Image Comics) – The first issue of this series was really intriguing. The concept is aliens retaliating against Earth for Earth’s aggressions towards them. Great concept. Solid execution so far.

Polar Vol. 3 No Mercy For Sister Maria (Dark Horse Comics) – If you’ve read the first two volumes, you know why this is on my list. Victor Santos’ series is pure action full of hit-men and mercenaries and femme fatales. It also looks amazing. A must get for folks, you won’t be disappointed.

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