Tag Archives: bruno hidalgo

Preview: Heavenly Blues #5 & #6

HEAVENLY BLUES #5 (of 6)

Ben Kahn (Script and Letters), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color)
October 9, 27p, $1.99, Digital

Isaiah and Erin walk the razor’s edge of deception, spinning a web of lies to play the angels against each other. But there’s one thing the thieves didn’t account for: running afoul of the law. The ghosts of the past have come to haunt a member of the gang, famed outlaw Coin Counter Turner. If he can’t shake the lawman that hunted him in life, the thieves’ plan will unravel before it can even begin.

HEAVENLY BLUES #5 (of 6)

HEAVENLY BLUES #6 (of 6)

Ben Kahn (Script and Letters), Bruno Hidalgo (Art and Color)
October 9, 38p, $1.99, Digital

The heist is on! All the plans are in motion, and the die is cast. Isaiah, Erin, and their team will either pull off the biggest theft in history, or face the same failures that doomed them in life. The plan’s simple: cause chaos, steal the Holy Grail, and get out while the getting’s good. If it works, they’ll be resurrected back on Earth. If they fail, they’ll spend eternity in a prison far worse than Hell.

HEAVENLY BLUES #6 (of 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heavenly Blues #1

Preview: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #6

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

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

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

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted #1

Gryffen: Galaxy's Most Wanted #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three series available May 1 include:

GRYFFEN: GALAXY’S MOST WANTED

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

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

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

Gryffen: Galaxy’s Most Wanted

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

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

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

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

INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

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

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

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

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY

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

Starburns Presents Previews Key Titles for 2019

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

Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia

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

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

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

Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia

Nasquatch

Written by CW Cooke and Kelly Williams
Art by Kelly Williams

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

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

Nasquatch

B-Squad

Written by Eben Burgoon
Art by Michael Calero

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

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

B-Squad

Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition

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

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

Hellicious Presents: Pick Your Perdition

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

Review: Heavenly Blues #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2017

In 2017, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the new comics releases because of personal stuff etc.. There was also the sheer hatred and bigotry of some comic book fans, who foamed at the mouth every time a character that wasn’t a straight white male starred in their own book or if female characters weren’t drawn in an early 90s Image male gaze-y way. Creators and companies weren’t exempt from this either from Howard Chaykin’s transphobia and Islamophobia in his low selling Image book Divided States of Hysteria to the revelation that new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski lied about writing comics under the Japanese pseudonym Akira Yoshida for years and suffered little to no consequences for it.

However, there was a lot to love about the comic books of 2017, and I found solace, entertainment, and inspiration in many books from (becoming) old favorites about godly pop stars and dark knights to intriguing new titles about all girl fight clubs and young people experimented on by the government.

 

  1. Batman #14-37 (DC)

In 2017, writer Tom King and a crack team of artists including David Finch, Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire explored almost every nook and cranny of the Dark Knight’s world in their work on Batman. Sure, there were epic arcs featuring one on one battles with Bane, a yearlong gang war with the Joker and Riddler, and a little family reunion in the “Button” crossover. But what Batman resonate as a comic book was the standalone and two part stories from King and Gerads showing the sweetness of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman to the emotional tale of Kite Man (Hell yes). King has a real knack for telling O. Henry-esque stories of ideas that humanize iconic characters none more so than “Superfriends” where Batman and Superman go on a double date with Catwoman and Lois Lane. An artistic highlight of the book was Joelle Jones’ beautiful, savage, and a little bit sexy depiction of Batman and Catwoman fighting for their love against the most evil of exes.

  1. Josie and the Pussycats #4-9 (Archie)

Josie and the Pussycats is a gorgeous, funny book that ended much too soon although it is nice to see artist Audrey Mok working on the main Archie title. Writers Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett craft the rare Archie book that looks at both romantic and platonic relationships from the POV of young adults, not teenagers. They, artist Mok, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick imbue the title with a Saturday Morning cartoon zaniness, including high speed boat and motorcycle chases, kidnappings, and jokes about the polar bears from The Golden Compass. Yes, DeOrdio and Bennett overload all kinds of pop culture references and allusions in Josie, but it adds to the book’s energetic feel along with Mok’s fantastic fashion designs and Fitzpatrick’s bold colors. Josie and the Pussycats has some real heart to it with characters having all kinds of intense conversations about love, friendship, and fame between the over-the-top setpieces.

  1. Heavenly Blues #1-4 (Scout)

Writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo’s Heavenly Blues blends the cosmology and philosophical and theological themes of Vertigo classics like Sandman and Lucifer with a quick and dirty heist thriller as a band of criminals, including a Great Depression Era thief, a girl who was sentenced to burn during the Salem Witch Trials, and a bisexual cowboy team up to break into heaven and steal something you may have heard of. Witty writing from Kahn and rhythmic art from Hidalgo that flows from the building of the Great Pyramids to the Old West and even an angel lounging in sweatpants keeps the story on its toes with flashback to each thief’s past life create an emotional connection to them. This is the perfect comic for folks who like to think about the nature of evil or the possibility of an afterlife while also watching Oceans 11 or Logan Lucky with a whiskey on the rocks.

 

  1. Shade the Changing Girl #4-12 (DC/Young Animal)

The crown jewel of DC’s Young Animal imprint, Shade: The Changing Girl is a beautiful, meditative look at identity and humanity from the perspective of a bird alien Metan girl named Loma Shade, who has possessed the body of teenage girl bully. Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s story really took off when Shade decides to hit the road first for Gotham and eventually to meet her idol, Honey Rich, the aging star of a 1950s sitcom that was popular all over the galaxy. Zarcone’s artwork is extremely fluid and complements Shade’s reaction to the influx of stimulus all around her that is humanity as she begins to understand concepts like nostalgia and of course the big ones: life and death. Shade the Changing Girl is more poem than sci-fi thriller/mindbender, and Castellucci’s poetic captions, Zarcone’s sincere facial expressions, and Fitzpatrick’s, well, groovy colors bypass the critical part of the brain and go straight for the emotional center. It is an empathetic study into how humans communicate and navigate this complex world from a visitor from an equally as complex society so hence conflict.

  1. Generation Gone #1-5 (Image)

Comics’ enfant terrible Ales Kot makes his triumphant return with Generation Gone, which is one of his most accessible works that still takes shots at the kyriarchy and patriarchy through the lens of the “superhero” origin story. Artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran provide equal parts majestic, disgusting, and triumphant wide screen visuals throughout the series from bodies being stripped down to bone, muscles, and organs to flying in the sunset. The way that the three main kids Elena, Baldwin, and Nick is a little bit of techno-organic body horror like Scanners filtered through 2017. Kot avoids typical superhero team up tropes and has them constantly at each other’s throats that all really boils down to toxic masculinity, especially Nick, who is like Max Landis with a healing factor. Generation Gone is an epic and visceral story with all kinds of carnage and big explosions that is ably balanced by Ales Kot’s nuanced characterization. There’s some decent world building, but it takes a backseat to Elena, Baldwin, and Nick’s journey and squabbles along the way.

  1. The Wicked + the Divine #25-33, 455 AD, Christmas Special (Image)

In its fourth year (Or “Imperial Phase”) as a title, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson’s The Wicked + the Divine became both more self-indulgent and introspective before the ending the year with more emotional destruction and much needed side dish of pure fanservice. The main focus is on the relationships of the Pantheon from Dionysus’ truly soulful friendship with Baphomet (They spend most of an issue talking in the dark, and it’s lovely.) to the intense connection between Persephone and Sakhmet and the older brother/little sister Baal and Minerva that takes a big turn for the disquieting. Even though McKelvie’s figures and fashion decisions are still flawless as usual, WicDiv uncovers every metaphorical wrinkle or mole on the Pantheon members by the time “Imperial Phase” ends in a truly soul crushing manner like the slow build in “In the Air Tonight” before the epic drums. And after it’s over, Gillen and a host of talented guest artists deliver a comic that is sexy, thoughtful, and filled to the brim of feels showing what the Pantheon were like when they were young and less dead. The Kris Anka and Jen Bartel Baal/Inanna short is most definitely the hottest thing I read in 2017.

 

  1. Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield #1-4 (Black Mask)

Shifting the focus from Kim Q to Kim D in this fantastic sequel to the Eisner nominated miniseries Kim and Kim, Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre confidently tell the story of a woman trying to get over an ex that she really cared for, but wasn’t good for her. There are also mech suits, space battles, basses being used as a blunt instrument, and all kinds of space bounty hunter shenanigans. The rift and reunion between the Fighting Kim’s is super relatable as who hasn’t been disappointed in a friend for returning to the same, not cool ex over and over again. However, Visaggio gives the Kim’s great growth as friends and in their chosen career as bounty hunters by the time the miniseries wraps. On the visual front, Eva Cabrera can choreograph the hell out of a fight scene, and there is still plenty of pink from Claudia Aguirre. Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield is a smorgasbord of quips, fun sci-fi worldbuilding, and real friend talk and improves on its already pretty awesome predecessor.

 

  1. Mister Miracle #1-5 (DC)

Jack Kirby would have turned 100 in 2017, and there was arguably no better tribute to his imaginative work as an artist and writer than Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle comic. I know I’m double dipping with King comics on the list, but he’s just that good. In his art, Gerads teaches the old dog of the nine panel grid some new tricks and uses it for everything from a tender love scene between Mister Miracle and Big Barda to him getting repeatedly beaten by his older brother Orion, who plays an antagonistic role in the series. The bar-like grid of the comic book he stars in is the one prison Mister Miracle can’t escape from. (Wow, that got meta.) Gerads uses a trippy, almost television fuzz effect to show Scott’s tattered psyche as he faces death with his escape artistry, goes to war against Apokolips, and is sentenced to execution. King’s gift of writing both the mundane and utterly cosmic comes in handy in Mister Miracle whose most memorable scenes are Scott and Barda cuddling and joking around, not the big battle scenes. Again, he and Mitch Gerads find the human and the epic, which is definitely something the King would be proud of. (Big Barda was patterned off his beloved wife Roz.)

  1. Giant Days #22-33, 2017 Special (BOOM!)

Although the facial expressions that Max Sarin and Liz Fleming draw are truly outrageous at times, Giant Days is a fairly naturally plotted comic with the friendships, relationships, and life statuses of Esther, Susan, and Daisy ebbing and flowing like normal university students. They begin the year as BFFs for life, but start to drift apart towards the end of the year as Susan and Daisy’s relationships with McGraw and Ingrid move onto the next level. Esther is kind of stuck in the lurch as her penchant for drama bombs starts to backfire. Giant Days nails the constantly evolving fluid thingamajig that is relationships as a young adult.  As an added bonus, we also get to see how the girls act and feel differently around their family versus friends as Susan’s way too big and complicated family makes quite the impression. And, of course, Giant Days is very funny, and John Allison, Max Sarin, and Liz Fleming mine the comedy out of everything from the deliciousness of home cooking, the grossness of nerd dorm food concoctions, and even a video game wedding. (Poor Dean.)

  1. Heavy Vinyl #1-4 (BOOM!)

Reading Carly Usdin, Nina Vakeuva, Irene Flores, and Rebecca Palty’s Heavy Vinyl is like the comic book equivalent of relaxing in a hot tub, but the hot tub is either cupcakes or adorable Corgi puppies. (Take your pick.) It’s about a teenage girl named Chris in 1998, who has just gotten her dream job at a record store and her first big crush on Maggie, her co-worker, who is drawn like a shoujo manga protagonist. But then she’s inducted into a top secret vigilante fight club and has to rescue the frontwoman of her favorite band. It’s high concept and slice of life just like Vakueva’s art is comedic, beautiful, and a little badass. Carly Usdin does a good job in just four issues of giving each member of the fight club their own distinct personalities and relationships while doubling down on the cuteness and awkwardness of Chris and Maggie’s budding romance. But what makes Heavy Vinyl  the best comic of 2017 is its belief in the power of women and music to change the world…

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