Tag Archives: cliff rathburn

Underrated: Green Valley

Did you read this book yet? Allow us to remind you why you should with a rerun of a column from last year.


This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Green Valley


Published by Image, Green Valley was written by Max Landis and features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, inks by Cliff Rathburn and colours by Jean Francois Beaulieu. The wonderful hardcover collection in my hands collects nine issues and will set you back $29.99 (I paid for this out of my own pocket, and happily so, even though I probably had access to the single issue review copies).

So what’s the story about?

GreenValleyHC.jpg

The knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a POWER like the one that resides in the Green Valley. Now they’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—to stop a wizard and slay his dragons—but there’s no such thing as magic or dragons…is there? 

You may have noticed by reading this column that I tend to enjoy stories set in and around medieval times, even though I don’t tend to read that many comics set in that era (or at least I didn’t until this year). So when my LCS suggested I pick this up (it was on the counter and the owner told me I’d like it) I did so without question because sometimes I don’t want to read superhero comics.

One of the first things I noticed was that the hardcover itself just feels utterly wonderful in your hands.  The above image is of the hardcover, with the comic art inset slightly into the gold and green cover of the book itself in an effect that really doesn’t translate as well in the image as it does in person, but it does give you a hint about the nature of the story, which aside from the cover and text on the back I entered utterly blindly – and I fell in love.

green valley interior 2.jpg
green valley interior.jpg

Green Valley is the kind of book that you will want to read in a single sitting – it grabs you right from the start as you’re introduced to the legendary Knights of Kelodia (all four of them) as they face down a barbarian horde in a brilliant sequence that’s full of dry humour, a genuine feeling camaraderie from the knights  and tense knightly masculinity all wrapped up in some beautiful visuals that are some of the nicest pure-comic pages I’ve seen in quite some time. Were I reviewing this here, I’d be giving this at least 9’s across the board and telling you to buy this without question – the story and art genuinely took me by surprise and had me forget that I really should be doing a bunch of other stuff for the hour or so I sat enraptured in this story.

Without spoiling anything, it’s tough to explain why I loved this story, but that won’t stop me from trying. Green Valley is a very intelligently written book, with dialogue that is, at times, so sharp you could loose a finger. There are moments that span the gamut of human emotion for the characters, and will have you laughing out loud and pumping your fist as the story goes on – just as you’ll feel gut-punched at certain other moment. Max Landis has written one hell of a story that deserves a very special place on your shelf.

Now excuse me while I go reread it (no, I’m not saying that for effect – I’m actually going to reread it now).


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Review: The Walking Dead #193

The Walking Dead #193

It’s near impossible to review The Walking Dead #193 without spoiling it. So, you’ve been warned.

*Spoiler Warning*

This is it, the end of this series. An unexpected finale sprung upon us much like the walker-filled world was sprung upon Rick Grimes.

With Rick murdered, there was a question looming over the series future and the direction it might go. We have that answer, and it’s on in our imaginations.

Writer Robert Kirkman delivers a finale that sticks the message and point he’s been building to throughout these years. The Walking Dead isn’t about the scares, it’s about building a future, a new society, from the ashes of the old one.

The Walking Dead #193 skips ahead with Carl Grimes now married with a child and a society rebuilt. It’s more Western than modern but “the trials” are now over. There’s law and order and protection. With that though comes forgetting of what was. And that’s the focus of the issue.

Walkers are now a traveling road show to be used to scare individuals. They’re a carnival act, not the dangerous things they once were. And that’s what the issue revolves around. Should the past be celebrated, forgotten, or is there a mix of that.

Rick Grimes helped forge this world and the issue celebrates that while also questioning the end impact. The world has forgotten its struggles. Carl still remembers it and does so to protect his family and so his daughter has a future.

And that’s where Kirkman soars. His story is about heart. It’s about family. And as a fairly new father, the scenes presented between Carl and his daughter got me right in the heart. They’re touching and the absolutely perfect end note. Carl reminds his daughter things are better though there are still dangers in the world. It’s a message that reflects in our every day lives. It’s a reminder of what we should be imparting on the next generation. We experience that complacency with our own walkers right around the corner. The underlying message Kirkman presents is one that we can take away with us today. It challenges the reader to do better and be better. It also focuses in on the point of the whole series from the beginning.

The art by Charlie Adlard with gray tones from Cliff Rathburn is fantastic. Along with lettering by Rus Wooton, we’re presented with an emotional issue. It’s not one full of scares or death and destruction. It’s all about human nature and feelings. And with the time jump, the art becomes key. It tells as much about where society is as to where it was. There’s a limited amount of pages to deliver the full story so the art details become a messenger for the reader to figure everything out. The art goes out on a high note matching an optimistic tone.

Fans of The Walking Dead might be both sad and happy with how things have wrapped. We’re not totally without future stories. From television shows to books, there’s much more life into this world yet to come and experience. And we can go into that with the knowledge that there’s hope for a future that’s a little better. A series whose message is that through trials and tribulations we can all make a better future. For a world built off of a bleak premise, its gift is one of a brighter future we can all make together.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letters: Rus Wooton
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

The Walking Dead #192 Gets a Second Printing with a Commemorative Cover

Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment has announced that The Walking Dead #192 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard is immediately being rushed back to print in order to keep up with overwhelming customer demand for this event issue and will get a commemorative cover treatment. 

The Walking Dead #192 commemorative cover will feature imagery showcasing the latest twist to the series and will be on shelves the same day as The Walking Dead #193 hits stores.

The Walking Dead #192 (Diamond Code APR198094) will be available on Wednesday, July 3. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers is Monday, June 10. 

SPOILER AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE WALKING DEAD #191 & #192!

Review: The Walking Dead #192

The Walking Dead #192

*Spoiler Warning*

Major events in comics are often left for big numbers like 25, 50, or 100. Writer Robert Kirkman shakes things up in The Walking Dead #192 delivering an emotional issue that’ll leave you in tears.

I have no shame in admitting the issue hit me emotionally. Like a ton of bricks. I choked up. Multiple times. I fought back tears.

For 191 issues, I’ve gotten to know Rick Grimes and his son Carl. They’re characters I’ve followed their ups and downs. And in this issue I, and we, say good-bye to Rick. We get to see Carl deal with the emotional pain of losing his father. We get to feel that sadness ourselves.

The Walking Dead #192 nails it in saying good-bye.

As Carl prepares to bury his father the realization of what Rick has done. What Rick has helped bring to the world hits you. And you realize the comic is truly about hope and the world we can create, together. It’s also about the wisdom parents pass to their kids. And as a father, I can hope I’m just a sliver of Rick was. The good he’s done. The positive outlook on the world he’s passed down. Civility. Justice. These are the lessons of The Walking Dead.

Even though this comic is a tear filled emotional ride, I know there’s more to go and come. This isn’t the true good-bye.

Charlie Adlard continues to amaze bouncing between the zombie gore and the human emotion. Brought to life with the inks of Stefano Gaudiano and gray tones of Cliff Rathburn, the issue’s visuals show the emotion when words can not do. Simple looks are all you need to see. Rus Wooton‘s lettering drives home the emotion of Kirkman’s words. The anger and sadness drip from the page.

The Walking Dead #192 is an issue I dreaded to read. I knew what was likely to come. I’ll be on the couch now curled up in a ball working through some stuff.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Human Target

Human Target

Sylvester Stallone is one those actors whose exterior offputs a lot of people. His acting talent is truly undervalued.  I gravitated to his star power through the Rocky and Rambo franchises.  Since those, he’s made movies that have been hit or miss. One of my favorites was Cobra, a truly 80s action movie that dripped all the sleek hair, outfits, and overall style that the decade was notorious for.

Another movie of his which as very entertaining was The Specialist. In it he plays a hitman who can’t stay out of the way of Sharon Stone. These roles were the ones that he actually thrived in, a quiet but steady man of strength, one which everyone trusts and no one wants to cross. One of those movies was in the brilliantly executed Avenging Angelo. That film mixed film noir and gangster films into an entertaining blend. In Len Wein’s stark take on Christopher Chance, we get a singular unique story in Human Target.

We find Chance and Winston entertaining a job of protecting a disgraced mobster, Angelo Morelli. He needs to deliver evidence to the Feds before he can be killed. The job becomes more complicated as Morelli has left pieces of evidence which would incriminate his organization all over the world and it’s up to Chance and him to retrieve them all before anyone else finds out about it. This leads him to Paris, Geneva, Hong Kong and everywhere in between, as Morelli’s organization starts to figure out exactly what the two are up to.

Overall, Human Target is an action-packed miniseries which borrows form the source material and the television show generously enough not to forget how fun this character is. The story by Len Wein and Peter Johnson is pulse pounding, smart and well developed. The art by the creative team is awe inspiring. Altogether, a portrait of a man for hire who will stop at nothing to do his job.

Story: Len Wein and Peter Johnson
Art: Simon Coleby, Bruno Redondo, Jason Masters, Chris Sprouse,
and John Paul Leon
Ink: Sergio Cariello, Karl Story, Cliff Rathburn, Jason Masters, John Paul Leon,
and Sergio Sandoval
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Charlie Adlard Posts a First Look at The Walking Dead #187

The Walking Dead #187 is in stores January 2, 2019 to kick off a new year of comics and artist Charlie Adlard has posted a teaser of some of what we can expect.

In “The Road Back” can Rick Grimes bring peace to the Commonwealth – or will he tear it apart?

The Walking Dead #187 is written by Robert Kirkman, art by Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn, and a cover by Adlard and Dave Stewart.

The Walking Dead #187

Murder Falcon Gets Variants by Tyrell Cannon, Ryan Ottley and Lorenzo de Felici

Image and Skybound Entertainment unleash three more jaw-dropping covers in the “Heavy Metal” variant line for Daniel Warren Johnson’s Murder Falcon—this time with artwork by Tyrell Cannon and Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn, and Lorenzo de Felici for issues #3-5 of the series respectively.

Cannon and Beaulieu’s artwork will pay homage to Bolt Thrower’s War Master album cover, Ottley and Rathburn’s to Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power album cover, and de Felici’s to Yngwie Malmsteen’s Trilogy album cover.

Each issue of the head-banging action series, Murder Falcon, features a “Heavy Metal” variant that pays tribute to a different classic heavy metal album cover. A variety of brutally talented artists will contribute to this variant cover line.

Murder Falcon #3 Cover B by Tyrell Cannon & Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Diamond Code SEP188094) will hit stores on Wednesday, December 12th. The final order cutoff deadline for comic shop retailers is Monday, November 19th.

Murder Falcon #4 Cover B by Ryan Ottley & Cliff Rathburn (Diamond Code SEP188095) will hit stores on Wednesday, January 9th. The final order cutoff deadline for comic shop retailers is Monday, December 10th.

Murder Falcon #5 Cover B by Lorenzo De Felici (Diamond Code DEC180265) will hit stores on Wednesday, February 13th.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 Back to Basics

It’s a new beginning for Spider-Man as Peter Parker and Spider-Man goes back to basics. No more big business and lots of money, this is sad sack Peter we know and love.

The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 Back to Basics collects issues #1-5 and Free Comic Book Day 2018 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, Laura Martin, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores on December 11! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle
TFAW

 

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

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

An alien invasion hits New York City and the only one who can stop it is…Spider-Man?! But that’s far from all you’ll find here – a revelation from the past puts Peter Parker’s job, relationships, and whole life in jeopardy! And if even that’s not enough, you’ll see a new roommate, new love interests – and a new villain!

Despite by disdain for writer Nick Spencer‘s recent Secret Empire, his writing on Superior Foes of Spider-Man (which if you haven’t read, it’s excellent) had me interesting in reading his debut on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man #1. After one issue, I already long for Dan Slott. Spencer excels when he focuses on humor but it seems that’s only the case when paired with artist Steve Lieber, his partner in crime on Superior and Spencer’s Image Comics series The Fix. Here, he works with artist Ryan Ottley coming off of his impressive work on Skybound’s Invincible.

Spencer’s first focus? Stripping everything that’s left of Peter Parker really setting him up for basics and to start from scratch. He’s already lost his company but what’s left to take? Spencer finds some things and in that sense the comic is interesting. The issue is that everything is delivered in such quick, rapid, bursts, it’s hard to stay focused. Again, this feels like Spencer’s previous comedic work, but this issue shows that Lieber was a key to bringing the quick hits together into a cohesive narrative.

Ottley’s work looks good. In fact, it looks like Ottley’s previous work in that Peter and MJ look a lot like the characters from Invincible. Ottley has a distinctive style and while characters vary, there’s a familiarity of them that makes them all seem a bit too recognizable. Ottley is joined by inker Cliff Rathburn, colorist Laura Martin, and letterer Joe Caramagna. The art combined with the story creates an ADD-like experience that can’t focus and delivers a lot in a scattershot way. It looks good though, and there’s a lot thrown in there for Ottley and crew to work with as so many heroes are depicted (and since when is Black Cat a good guy again?) doing battle.

The comic sets up a lot and features a return to the more humorous Spencer but something doesn’t click like his previous work. I can only conclude it’s the art which doesn’t gell. There’s some good ideas though, and potential fun. But, when a first issue has you longing for the previous creative team, that’s not a good sign. Spencer had a goal with this issue, strip everything that Peter still has and in that sense, it succeeds in setting up what’s to come with a new direction.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Ryan Ottley
Ink: Cliff Rathburn Color: Laura Martin Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.25 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Walking Dead #177

Meet Officer Mercer, the newest individual we’re introduced to living in the “New World Order” that is the Commonwealth. The Walking Dead #177 is broken up into a few parts and while each segment varies greatly, each emphasizes the focus on the living with the series.

Rick is with Mikey who is working through issues through poetry an interesting aspect in a world where danger is around every corner and the dead have risen. There’s a focus on addressing loss and trauma of what’s going on and with Rick involved he is of course still dealing with the loss of Andrea. It’s an interesting an important segment as it shows that things are relatively stable but there’s still emotional turmoil. A segment with Maggie as well shows this aspect of stability. After everything that has happened, this is a time when you can let your guard down and enjoy things a bit.

Emotion is the name of the game of this issue as Michonne is reunited with her daughter Elodie. We learn Elodie’s story and are reminded of the horrible things everyone has done or had done to them to survive. It’s emotional and writer Robert Kirkman as usual does a solid job of focusing on the human aspect of the story. The series isn’t about surviving the dead, it’s about living in a world of the dead.

We’re also introduced to Mercer and Governor Milton’s son. This is the first sign that things aren’t perfect in the world of the Commonwealth and indicates where the next bit of turmoil is coming from. The series has done a good job of keeping the crazy hidden but we readers know there’s no way this new community can be as good as it’s presented. The cracks are visible here and it’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation. Unlike with other communities, the sides are a bit grey. Kirkman gives us something familiar but changes it up just enough to keep it interesting.

The art by Charlie Adlard, with ink by Stefano Gaudiano, and gray tones by Cliff Rathburn is excellent as always. Each new character has so much personality and the emotion of the story is driven as much by the art as it is by the story itself. That’s equally impressive since the story is in black and white which changes up how we “read” the scenes a bit more. It emphasizes Adlard’s line work and the detail, or lack of, added to each scene and character. The lettering by Rus Wooton too adds to the emotion of it all making it a bit clearer how dialogue is delivered. Slight bolding helps emphasize a word.

This new arc has been a slow but solid build introducing us to this new world and letting the malice (or expected malice) build. Is it in our minds considering the series history? Or, is there something up with these new characters and community that spells trouble for our heroes. Is it all too good to be true and this is the quiet before the storm? Kirkman and team know how to build to a cathartic explosion and this latest arc feels like it’s building to something, I just don’t know what.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Charlie Adlard Cover: Charlie Adlard Cover Color: Dave Stewart
Ink: Stefano Gaudiano Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn Letterer: Rus Wooton Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

« Older Entries