Tag Archives: comicraft

Underrated: Autumnlands: Woodland Creatures

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:  Autumnlands: Woodland Creatures



TheAutumnlands_vol02-1A few weeks ago I wrote about the first volume of The Autumnlands  in this column (which you can find in a horribly typo filled post here because apparently I forgot to spell check). I was quite taken with the book, and remarkably surprised that I’d never come across the story before, and as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I picked up the second trade. This time for full price.

The second trade, Woodland Creatures picks up, with the aftermath of the bridge battle sending Dusty and Learoyd left abandoned on the ground as the rest of the citizens are rehomed.

Whereas the first volume touched on the divide of rich and poor in a class-based society, the second really drives home the differences between the magic users and the rest of the woodland creatures, culminating in a shocking and remarkably relevant commentary on the imposition of one’s will over another.

Slavery, class divide, religion, environmental damage and technological abuses are all touched upon here in a way that doesn’t come off as Kurt Busiek standing on a soapbox, but rather encouraging us to think about the world around us. Maybe something that seems impossible has a rather obvious solution when approached from a different angle.

If you’re looking for a fun fantasy story, then you will find what you’re looking for with the second volume in the Autumnlands saga. Without question, this is a top notch comic book. But like any great science fiction or fantasy series, the messages barely beneath the surface are more powerful and relevant for their seemingly innocuous delivery and framing within the confines of the story.

As with all great works of fiction, Woodland Creatures asks exactly as much of the reader as it needs to in order to encourage you become a better person. Yup. But as deeply as I have read into this book, and possibly far deeper than I should have, you don’t need to do that. This is a book that can be enjoyed solely as a great story.

Image has a vast library of great books, and while we’re still waiting on the third volume of the series, this book is worth reading now. Yes, there’s a set up for the following issue, and yes there are unanswered questions, but nothing that will haunt you long into the night (though the wait for the next chapter  will suck).

As with most books covered in this column, it’s a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Black Beetle: No Way Out

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:  Black Beetle: No Way Out



black beetle no way outAnother week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand.” This week we’re looking at the first volume of Francisco Francavilla‘s Black Beetle: No Way Outanother book that I found at a thrift store for an absolute bargain price. Actually, bargain is understating things. I paid $1 for this book (technically $1.25, but at but 4 get 1 free it works out to a dollar). Which is an absolute steal of a deal for a hardcover trade.

Black Beetle: No Way Out is published by  Dark Horse, written and drawn by Francavilla, and takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the old pulp novels of the 30’s and 40’s, with all the semi futuristic-steampunk technology and sleek lines that includes.

This throwback feeling permeates the entire graphic novel, genuinely allowing it to read as a pulp novel from a bygone era – but one with the tonal sensitivities of today. It’s within this area that Francavilla tells the story of a vigilante who is equal parts the Shadow, the Spider and the Black Bat – and though comparisons to Batman will be made, the only similarity there is that Batman is more prevalent in the cultural awareness of our medium than the other three characters previously mentioned. I’m not saying the comparisons are unfair, but that the similarities are more in line with the characters Batman took inspiration from rather than Bruce Wayne himself.

The story, then, that is told within No Way Out is very reflective of those pulp novels, especially the original covers that are used as story breaks between the individual issues. Francavilla’s artistic approach is very evocative of the art styles of the time – simple colours, thick lines and a sense of foreboding. With Francavilla handling both the writing and the art duties in the book, we’re given a tour-de-force of a creative offering as he delivers an incredible experience.

And that, ultimately, is why I loved this book so much. It’s an incredibly fun pulp story, a classic hero romp with a hero who in’t shy about using his guns. Of course that does leave a little room for folks to be concerned about a lack of substance in the plot, but I think for the most part that is a concern that can be put aside by the artistic offering.

This is a book that’s absolutely worth a read.

Yes, I only paid $1 for it, and yes, I only bought it because it was in a thrit store, but I am so glad that I did. Black Beetle: No Way Out is easily the best thing I have read all week – including the four other books I picked up – and I am frankly astounded that I had never read this before. I’m equally as astounded that I’d never even heard of the book before.  Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw

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:  Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw



The Autumn Lands Tooth And ClawIn another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand,” we have The Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw by Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey, Jordie Bellaire and John Roshell of Comicraft. I had never heard of this series before spotting it at my LCS last week as I restocked the trade shelves (I’m not a nice person, they pay me to do it). Then this week a used copy came in, and I couldn’t turn down a half priced trade.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that $5 was an utter steal for this book. Within four pages I had become absorbed into this wonderfull world of anthromorphic animals, magic and class based society.

Autumnlands is published by Image, with the first volume being released in 2015 that collects the six issues released from November 2014 to June 2015. There was a second volume released in 2017 that collects the eight issues released from November 2015 to January 2017. As a person who only recently discovered the series, I can imagine that the less than frequent release date didn’t help garner Autumnlands much buzz – but I could easily be wrong here as it is entirely possible I just missed it. Like I missed the comics.

Magic is failing in the world, and a group of sky-city dwelling wizards want to bring back the Great Champion so that he can show them how to return the world’s magic. Only… the wizards didn’t bring back a savior, they snagged themselves a soldier. An effective soldier, but a soldier nonetheless. From anther world, or time, or dimension. Into this new world, then, the soldier finds himself embroiled in the politics of a city (or he would if he seemed to care about such things), and it’s through the uses of the types of animals that we can see a class-based commentary begin to form.

Although this is more a rule of thumb than specifically stated, meat eaters, generally, seem to be at the top of the hierarchy, while herbivors are (quite literally) at the ground level. There are exceptions to this, including a wizarding giraffe, however. But put the politics and commentary aside, and you still have a solid fantasy story about a hero who finds himself alone in a strange world who must somehow protect and save those who need him. Busiek delivers on multiple levels with this book, and it’s easy to see why there’s a cover quote telling us it’s his best work in some time.

Likewise, there’s also a cver quote extolling Benjamin Dewey’s art work, and rightly so, as he and colourist Jordie Bellaire deliver the second punch with their all out visual assualt. Rarely have I been so surprised by a book’s visual impact as I was when reading this.

Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is fatastic, and I’d have been supremely happy with this at twice the price – I’m pretty sure my LCS has volume two (or they did when I put it on the shelf), so I’ll be picking that up this weekend, too. Volume one is going to set you backaroud $10 new, which is an astounding deal for six issues, let alone six issues of this quality. Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is a really good read, phenomenl, even.

But as with most books covered in this column, it’s a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Preview: Assassins Creed Origins #2 (of 4)

Assassins Creed Origins #2 (OF 4)

Story Concept: Anne Toole, Anthony Del Col
Writer: Anthony Del Col
Story Consultant: Ann Lemay
Artist: PJ Kaiowa
Colorist: Dijjo Lima
Letterer: Comicraft
CVR A PJ Kaiowa
CVR B Toni Infante
Editor: Tom Williams
Senior Editor: Andrew James
Publisher: Titan Comics
32pp, $3.99, On sale: April 11, 2018

Egypt — the turbulent final years of the Ptoelemaic period.

Succeeding in their mission of vengeance, Bayek of Siwa and his wife Aya eliminated those responsible for the death of their son. But their quest for retribution led them to uncover the secretive Order of the Ancients, and its plans to control all of Egypt and beyond.

Aware of the magnitude of the threat the Order poses towards the freedom of all people, Bayek and Aya parted ways to dedicate their lives towards building a brotherhood to resist the power of the Order.

Known as the Hidden Ones, they work from the shadows to assassinate those who would seek to control the free will of the people.

With the city of Rome as her new base of operations, Aya has already enlisted the help of a number of like-minded individuals to her cause, including the senators Brutus and Cassius. But by assassinating the power-hungry dictator Julius Caesar in the hopes of freeing the city, Aya and her new allies may have plunged Rome into even further turmoil…

Preview: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #3.7

DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR #3.7

Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Giorgia Sposito with Iolanda Zanfardino
Colorist: Arianna Florean with Nicola Righi
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betalcourt
Cover A: Robert Hack
Cover B: Photo by Will Brooks
Cover C: Blair Shedd
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: July 26, 2017

Vortex Butterflies – Part 2!

After their collective ordeal in Ancient China, the Doctor received a mysterious signal… which turned out to be from his future self!

Though the Tenth Doctor won’t remember the exact details of their meeting, the warning from the future will linger… Having abandoned Gabby and Cindy in London at the house of an old friend, it turns out the Doctor may have left more problems than solutions in his wake – as Gabby’s powers began to manifest on an unprecedented scale!

Preview: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 4 The School of Death

DOCTOR WHO: THE TWELFTH DOCTOR VOL. 4- THE SCHOOL OF DEATH

Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Rachael Stott
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover: Alice X. Zhang
FC – 136pp – $19.99 – ISBN: 978-1785851087
Available now in comic stores.
On sale in book stores: March 14

There’s something fishy going on at the remote Scottish school of Ravenscaur… Something that has bedevilled students and teachers alike… something that has lurked in the caverns beneath the school for millennia! Only the Doctor and Clara can unravel a deadly conspiracy that reaches as high as the Prime Minister of England!

Preview: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Year Three #1

DOCTOR WHO ELEVENTH DOCTOR YEAR THREE #1

Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Fraser
Colorist: Gary Caldwell
Letterer: Comicraft
COVER A – Josh Burns
COVER B – Photo
COVER C – Question No. 6
COVER D – Simon Fraser
COVER E – Simone Di Leo
COVER F – Blank Sketch Variant
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: January 11

Same great creators – whole new flavor! The Eleventh Doctor begins his blockbuster third year with writer Rob Williams (Suicide Squad) and series artists Simon Fraser and Leandro Casco in the hot seat!

Year Three unfolds in single issue stories, as the Doctor and Alice Obiefune, seeking a fresh start after the stresses of last year’s epic mystery, set off in search of strange new worlds and amazing new sights! Every issue is packed with story and wonder! Dive deep into the unseen reaches of time and space!

Super-accessible jumping on point for new readers – come see what the fuss is all about!

dw_11d_3_01_cover_a_josh_burns

Haawiyat, a FREE Comic for Syrian Refugee Kids

The year-long Syrian conflict has displaced millions. From the horrors of Aleppo to the sheer struggle of the journey to safety, Syrians everywhere are fighting to survive, and the sheer numbers of children affected by this are catastrophic. A new hardship begins when a child makes it to their new home. Strange environments, foreign people, and often a new language make fitting in incredibly traumatic.

This was the origin of the Syrian comic, Haawiyat. The comic will be 8 pages with a full-color cover and published in Arabic. Filled with well-known Syrian folktales this comic will bring children something that brings comfort, a taste of home, and will be something they can hold in their hands and say most unequivocally is their own.

The comic was the idea of A. David Lewis. As he explained in the press announcement:

If I was a doctor, I would pick up my medic bag. If I was a soldier, I would pick up a weapon. I am a professor, a comic writer, and a father.  I am helping where I can, how I can. Children are scared, disoriented, and feeling lost. We have to give them hope. This is phase one of a grand plan. We want to reach more kids in more places with phase two.

An incredible team of creators and translators have volunteered to donate their time to create the title. Ka-blam Digital Printing will be creating the book gratis, Comicraft is donating a font, and Nadia Alawa’s renowned NuDay Syria will graciously distribute the book overseas as well as report on its effect. There are tentative plans to expand on this idea and their participation will be crucial.

The stories to be included are The King’s Daughter’s Earring, The Miller and The Two Djinn, and The Story Of The Five Cakes. Each tale was specifically chosen for their trigger free nature and relevance to current issues children are most likely dealing with.

Creators include Rob Croonenborghs, Jim Shaw, Joseba Morales, Mexi Gremillion, and Ursula Murray Husted. Taylor Hastings will be lettering and Farrah Hamza is translating. Initial drop sites for the comic include Northern Syria and Turkey. Shipping will begin in February. Are you a creator interested in participating in phase two? Email captionbox@gmail.com.

haawiyat

Preview: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Year Three #1

DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR YEAR THREE #1

Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Fraser
Colorist: Gary Caldwell
Letterer: Comicraft
COVER A – Josh Burns
COVER B – Photo
COVER C – Question No. 6
COVER D – Simon Fraser
COVER E – Simone Di Leo
COVER F – Blank Sketch Variant
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: Jan 4

Same great creators – whole new flavor! The Eleventh Doctor begins his blockbuster third year with writer Rob Williams (Suicide Squad) and series artists Simon Fraser and Leandro Casco in the hot seat!

Year Three unfolds in single issue stories, as the Doctor and Alice Obiefune, seeking a fresh start after the stresses of last year’s epic mystery, set off in search of strange new worlds and amazing new sights! Every issue is packed with story and wonder! Dive deep into the unseen reaches of time and space!

Super-accessible jumping on point for new readers – come see what the fuss is all about!

dw_11d_3_01_cover_a_josh_burns

Preview: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #2.15

DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #2.15

Writer: Si Spurrier / Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Fraser
Colorist: Gary Caldwell
Letterer: Comicraft
Cover A: Tom Humberstone
Cover B: Will Brooks Photo
Cover C: jaKE
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On sale: December 21

It’s all come down to this, the epic conclusion to the Eleventh Doctor’s second year! With a trail of temporal devastation in his wake, and casualties mounting among his companions, can the Doctor find the truth at last about his Time War crime? And will that truth, once won, prove to have been worth the cost?!

dw_11d_2_15_cover_a_tom_humberstone

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