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Spitting Image is an Enticement to Back Kith + Kin

Kith + Kin

Spitting Image is a black and white comic strip that’s included in the Kith + Kin anthology currently live on Kickstarter. The seven-page comic is written by Brittany Matter and Heather Ayers with art and lettering by Sally Cantirino, and one of ten within the anthology itself. I haven’t read the anthology itself, only this story, but based on the strength of this story I’m willing to give it a look.

There are very few words in the strip, around a dozen depending on what you’re including in the count, but there’s a lot of story here nonetheless. Much like a fine wine or an old cigar*, you need to take your time with this story. Don’t rush through it to get to the words because you’ll miss a lot of the story told through the decor and shadows within the panels; it is these subtle, not quite hidden, details that pull you in to the unnamed protagonist’s world and tells her story as she simply walks through a great old house.

Spitting Image literally shows you the story, but actually tells you nothing. It’s a cool literary device and one that gives a lot of faith and trust in the reader’s ability to pull the details from the story. It makes the comic feel remarkably rewarding. Of course, this wouldn’t work if Sally Cantirino didn’t have the understanding of sequential art that she so clearly does. Her page composition makes use of the limited pages with some truly intriguing panel layouts and sharp contrasts in the black and white artwork. This is one of those stories that needs to be read in as close to the intended form as is possible; flipping the pages of the horizontal review copy was thrilling.

When it comes to enticements for an anthology book, they don’t come much better than this. Matter and Ayers’ ability to craft such a powerful story within such a relatively space leaves me with a lot of hope for what the pair have to offer in the other nine stories in Kith + Kin.

If you’re reading this before the Kickstarter closes, I highly recommend backing the book today.

*I don’t actually know whether you take your time with either wine or a cigar because I don’t consume either.

Journey with Rod Espinosa’s Adventure Finders: The Edge of Empire

Action Lab Entertainment presents Rod Espinosa‘s Adventure Finders! An fantasy adventure story told in the spirit of Lord of the Rings, Adventure Finders is driven by empowering female characters. The fantasy epic is written in the unique style of Rod Espinosa, author of The Courageous PrincessNeotopia and over 50 comics and children’s book titles!

Clari is as bubbly as Barbie, as noble as She-Ra, and as violent as any anime warrior princess you’ve ever seen! Young Clariette and her friends Jolfe the Wizard and Ariarra the Healer are tossed directly into a full-scale battle as thousands of orcs, beasts and ogres attack the gigantic convoy of the noble Lord Justinius as they prepare to take up their post guarding Clariette’s home town of Good River!

Adventure Finders: The Edge of Empire continues where the story left off after Adventure Finders: Newly Hired Adventurers, which is currently available on comiXology. However, this new arc is 100% accessible to new readers looking to join in on this epic fantasy quest. Pre-order the first issue of The Edge of Empire story arc with the Diamond item code JUN191317.

Adventure Finders: The Edge of Empire

Preview: Rick and Morty #39

Rick and Morty #39

(W) Kyle Starks, Josh Trujillo
(A) Katy Farina, Rii Abrego
(C) Rian Sygh, Sarah Stern
(CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Sarah Stern, (Cover B) Howard Shum
Age Rating: Young Adult Audiences
Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor
Price: $3.99
Page Count: 32

In this action-packed issue drawn by guest artist (and former series colorist) Katy Farina, Rick and Morty get arrested (probably falsely) for smuggling and are being sent to the worst penal colony in the universe. Can they escape this space paddy wagon before they get locked up forever? Will there be additional shenanigans? You know there will be! Plus: another interconnected backup story by Josh Trujillo and Rii Abrego!

Preview: Star Wars Adventures #9

Star Wars Adventures #9

John Barber, Nickolas Brokenshire (w) • Chad Thomas, Nickolas Brokenshire (a) • Chad Thomas (c)

Droids take center stage in both stories of this comical and exciting adventure! C-3PO might be in over his head as he takes on a new job, and IG-88 is determined to capture his crafty bounty!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Underrated: Ultimate X-Men

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:  Ultimate X-Men

Ultimate_X-Men_Vol_1_1.jpgUltimate X-Men was a series launched under Marvel’s Ultimate Marvel imprint that aimed to do away with 40 years of so called convoluted continuity into a more modern and updated setting. The second title to launch after Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men was written by Mark Millar and drawn by Adam and Andy Kubert. Millar was largely ignorant of the storied history of the X-Men, and reinvented the characters with the 2000 X-Men  film as his primary reference. Millar has admitted in an interview with Sequential Tart that he knew bugger all about the characters before Joe Queseda and Bill Jemas asked him to pitch for X-Men, expecting them to use the script as toilet paper. Instead, because Millar knew next to nothing about the franchise, they decided that he should be the one to reboot the X-Men for Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics.

Free from the shackles of the past Millar set about crafting a new, and more modern universe for the X-Men to inhabit aimed to bring a return to the mainstream appeal the franchise enjoyed years before.

Launching in 2001, Ultimate X-Men was also part of Marvel’s “dot-comics” format, which was an early translation of print to digital using a slightly animated Flash format. Comic pages would appear on the screen showing a handful of panels at a time, and speech and thought bubbles hovering over the characters. The format would eventually pave the way toward Marvel Unlimited. Although not the first comic on the dot-comics format, it was one of the first that I read that way. Because the dot-comics were free to whomever had an internet connection and the patience to read the comics in their episodic form (if memory serves, five or so pages were uploaded every few days), they were a great way for people like myself to get introduced to a series that I otherwise would not have before.

Ultimate_X-Men_Vol_1 interior.jpg

Although I had previously dabbled in the X-Universe before, I was never a constant reader. Ultimate X-Men drew me into reading an ongoing series featuring Marvel’s merry mutants for the first time. The characters were familiar and yet felt fresh, the situations they were in reflected more of the world around them than the main Marvel universe characters did. Or at least that’s how it felt at the  time. It was here, with a newly discovered love of the characters that I truly became an X-Men fan and not just a Wolverine fan. At the time the irony that the series was being written by a man who knew bugger all about the characters was something I was unaware of, but the benefit of hindsight brings into sharp focus that provided one is a competent writer and has some understanding of the subject, then the essence of characters one is writing about shine through. And Millar, for the most part, had that understanding.

Running from 2001 until 2009 where it was cancelled at the conclusion of the critical and commercial failure of the Ultimatum crossover, Ultimate X-Men enjoyed nearly a decade as the fan favourite X-title. Although it was eventually relaunched as Ultimate Comics X-Men in 2011, the series never enjoyed the success of its pre-Ultimatum days.

Would Ultimate X-Men have worked had it been released today? Although we’ll probably never know, you can look at DC’s New 52 and to a lesser extent the successor to the Ultimate line (Ultimate Comics) to get an idea – although there are obvious faults with either comparison. The New 52 replaced DC’s continuity in its entirety, to much chatter from fans, and the Ultimate Comcs line tried to pick up after the failure of Ultimatum which had driven many fans away already. However you look at it, for nearly ten years Ultimate X-Men, and some of its companions under Marvel’s Ultimate line, were among the pinnacle of superhero comics. The reimagining of the characters, stripping them down to their core and putting them in a different world was a brave choice, but one that I, and thousands like me, fell in love with.

I grew up reading Ultimate X-Men, both as a comics fan and a human, and it hurts me a little to see people ignore it as an unimportant part of Marvel’s past because it’s not chronologically relevant in the X-Men’s story. It’s not, not really, but that doesn’t mean the stories told under the Ultimate X-Men banner remain among some of my most cherished to this day. If, for whatever reason, you haven’t read them then you can find the collected editions easily enough at your favourite online retailer (or, maybe your LCS can get them in for you).

That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time  when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.


Review: Gamora #2

gamora__2The Gamora origin story continues its amazing start Gamora #2. Picking up where the explosive first issue left off we find Gamora headed to the wasteland planet of Ubilex in Thanos’ stolen space ship and headed for a crash landing. Klaxon is headed to the planet as well and they are both on the hunt for the half Badoon heir. Things don’t go as planned for either of them and the Badoon princess is more damn hell in a sort of dress than damsel in distress.

In a surprise turn of events, Gamora finds herself face to face with the Vestigal “intern” princess who has no idea who she is and luckily Gamora doesn’t either because they form a quick alliance against the zealot filled Oculus Cult. Things are off to a crazy but, amazing start and the couple of spoilers I just gave you don’t even touch the surface of all the good stuff that goes down in this issue.

Nicole Pelman‘s writing style is quick, clever and purposeful giving a richness to Gamora’s back story. There is clear motivation behind her action and even though the setting for this issue is literally out of this world the story she weaves is realistic and brilliant at its core. Every word and emotion is intense when it needs to be and cavalier when it has to be providing the reader with moments that feel real and current. Marco Checchetto‘s art work adds an extra layer of brilliance and realism to an already rich story. Every line seems to have been placed with great attention to detail from the pained faces in battle to the thoughtful contemplation in more “peaceful” moments, it gives the reader a sense of being in the story.

Overall issue #2 of Gamora is a great read from cover to cover. Even without reading issue #2 you can jump right into the story and feel like you’re not only part of it but, have a sense that you know what’s going on without Pelman dumbing down the content or spoon feeding you the story.

Story: Nicole Pelman Art: Marco Checchetto
Story: 9.1 Art: 9 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Brik #6

brik-6-marketing_preview-1It’s the final issue in what has been a stellar story arc. Brik has had undertones of some of the best that comic book land had to offer in the eighties. It’s dark, gritty, real and honest. A welcome throwback to when comic books provided social commentary and gave you a glimpse at the world from the perspective of an outsider and often an oppressed group.

Writers Michael Benson and Adam Glass have given us a consistent story that we could get behind, main characters we could root for because of their imperfections, and humanity and villains that we feared and were intrigued by. I hate to see them go but I couldn’t wait to see how they would bring this storyline to a close.

I think that is an issue you need to read for yourself in order to fully appreciate the pure genius and kick ass storytelling that the Brik team has pulled off. Benson and Glass closed out this arc and I’m legit praying that this is just the end of the arc and not the series because I’m hooked, with one hell of a bang. There’s double crosses, sneaky tricks, moral ambiguity, characters not being who you think they are and heroes, or anti-heroes, rising where you least expect them.

Harwinder Singh‘s artwork continues to give us all the grit and realness that’s story like this needs and deserves. Every panel becomes a piece of the tale being told and has the look of a movie story board allowing you to picture things that are happening and suck you into the comic.

There are no gimmicks, cheesy unnecessary plot twists, or unrealistic speeches in this issue. Every panel and word is crafted in a way that evokes emotion but doesn’t feel cheap or manufactured. The story as a whole has evolved organically and it’s nice to see that creators chose to keep that organic style of storytelling when it came to closing out this arc.

There are aha moments that creep up early into (and on the later pages of) this issue but they don’t feel like a trick. The writing leading up to, and inside of, this issue had us so engrossed in the story that yeah we should have seen some of these things coming but we didn’t because we felt like we were a part of the story. There were no tropes or red herrings in this issue, just good old fashioned comic book storytelling and an arc so tight that you got just as wrapped up in it as Sebastian did in the Neverending Story.

Issue #6 not only gave Brik a soul but it gave the story one too and I really hope this isn’t the end of the line because I’m beyond hooked and am open to all of the possibilities that this issue proposed. I even appreciated the epilogue that followed the big showdown between the big bad guy and our reluctant and new hero. I could legit hear the end credit music playing as I looked at the beautiful panels and read the words.

Overall issue #6 ended this arc with a bang and I can’t wait for them to reload the gun and give us another shot!

Story: Michael Benson and Adam Glass Art: Harwinder Singh
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Brik # 5

brik-5-marketing_preview-1It’s the final countdown for this arc of the comic series Brik. Four issues behind us and only one more after this to finish the story of our young “hero” Drew and his faithful Golem Brik. Issue #4 ended with Little Stalin about to go gangsta on the neighborhood to crush the hope that Brik has given them. Drew is feeling himself and all about rocking his black hoodie and riding off into the night on Brik’s back to deliver street justice to any bad guy he comes in contact with.

Brik #5 is all about consequences and cause and effect. Drew’s actions in the last issue has Little Stalin and his minions out for blood and they’re taking no prisoners as they set out to squash the rebellion in the neighborhood. We see Drew get his first kiss and it was cute, not forced, age appropriate, and actually showed a bit of consent and questioning. Sera returns, meets Brik and reminds Drew of the rules. Unfortunately, by the time she gets Drew to do right by the Brik, Little Stalin and his boys are blowing things up an about to hold a public execution in the middle of the streets of Yonkers.

As usual, the writing is on point. Drew acts exactly how you’d expect a kid with a Golem to act. The interactions between him and the other adults in this comic book series are real and intuitive. Brik comes off as a well written tv show and the art keeps pace with the story. With one issue left in this series arc, I’m shivering with antici—-pay—tion waiting to see how this all wraps up. This was a placeholder issue but, unlike the usual placeholder issues it had meat. It was a well-drawn, compelling read that made me not only enjoy the issue I was reading but, call back to the previous issues and look forward to The finale.

Issue five ends with an edge of your seat cliffhanger that doesn’t feel gimmicky or forced. The organic progression of the series means that this issue is everything that you need it to be with a nice push to make it even more than you expected.

Story: Michael Benson and Adam Glass Art: Harwinder Singh
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Hot Damn #4 (of 5)

Hot Damn #4 (of 5)

Ryan Ferrier (w) • Valentin Ramon (a & c)

Reunited and it feels so gross! Teddy gives ol’ Satan the slip, and attempts to atone for his past sins. Peeved off Costello, however, burns away in Hell with a peeved off Satan, while a peeved off God goes old school. Believe the peeve.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99


Preview: James Bond #8

James Bond #8

writer: Warren Ellis
artist: Jason Masters
cover: Dom Reardon
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

James Bond is trapped in Los Angeles with a MI6 agent under fire and a foreign intelligence service trying to put them both in bags… and possibly more than one foreign intelligence service.  And things may not be any safer in Britain, with bodies dropping and ghosts moving in the political mist…


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