Tag Archives: copperhead

Mini Reviews: Harrow County, The Fix, Grass Kings, and More

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Ryan

Harrow County #23 (Dark Horse)* – Cullen Bunn’s storyline takes another interesting, if tentative, lurch forward here as tensions continue to mount between our protagonist and her one-time best friend, but is the real danger to both youg ladies yet to make itself fully known? Tyler Crook’s art remains, as ever, darkly lush and evocative. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Grass Kings #3 (BOOM! Studios)* – The least involving chapter to date in Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ still-young narrative is still a damn fine read and provides some explanation about who our “mystery guest” is while hinting at the trouble she’s about to bring down around the heads of everyoe in the so-called “Grass Kingdom.” The gorgeous watercolor art remains the star of the show here, but the whole story-and-art package is a wonderfully seamless affair. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

The Fix #9 (Image Comics)* – I still laugh my ass off at every issue of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s yarn about fuck-up crooked cops, but this chapter continues the trend of far less dense, more “decompressed” storytelling that’s taken hold in recent installments, and while admitting up-front that you’re openly swiping from “L.A. Confidential” is a clever enough way to address the elephant in the room, it doesn’t change the simple fact that derivative stuff is — well, derivative stuff. Lieber’s art is starting to look as rushed as the scripts, too. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Copperhead #13 (Image Comics)* – The intrigue surrounding the sheriff and her new boss/.former subordinate continues to deepen, as does the murder mystery surrounding the former mayor, but last issue’s cliffhanger is revealed to be a whole lot of nothing right off the bat, which feels like more than a bit of a cheat, so I’ve gotta kncok this down a notch for that. On the whole, though, Jay Faerber’s scripts continue to impress and Drew Moss is starting to grow on me (Get it? Moss? Grow? Okay, so it’s not really very funny) in his role as artist, but truth be told, I’ll always miss Scott Godlewski. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

 

 

 

Elana

Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1 (DC Comics) Team Allred doing Jack Kirby’s Fourth World is a match made on New Genesis. They truly inhabit his dynamic visual style that is the most Comics of all. I am excited to see a story that is both written and drawn by this team.

The creative visual metaphors we get are clearly the product of visual storytellers. This story questions social control and the perhaps impossible dream of self determination and freedom. It is rich with references to the full Forth World canon but the visuals are stunning in their own right so newbies will love it. There is so much visual storytelling per page it demands re-reading. I love it. Overall 9.0 Recommendation: Buy it. Frame it.


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Rasputin07_CoverWednesdays 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.

Brett

Southern Bastards #10 (Image Comics) – One of the, if not the, best comic out there right now. It’s usually a slow burn, but each issue has more character insights than many comics have in a year. This Southern noir is fantastic on every level.

Captain Canuck #3 (Chapter House Publishing) – Some times you want your heroes to lose the gritty aspect, and just be heroes. This series gets back to that courtesy of some talented Canadian creators. Fun action, that’s entertaining and loses the cynicism of today’s superhero comics.

Invisible Republic #5 (Image Comics) – An amazing series that definitely doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It involves a reporter digging into the revolutionaries that took over a planet, and digs up a bit of dirt. An amazing focus on history being used as propaganda.

Princeless: Be Yourself #2 (Action Lab Entertainment) – The new series hasn’t missed a beat and continues the fun fantasy adventure with a bit of girl power mixed in.

Rasputin #7 (Image Comics) – The first arc focusing on the historical figure was interesting. Flash forward 100 years, and not only is he alive, he’s also advising a Presidential candidate. Now you have my undivided attention.

 

Edward

Top Pick: Hacktivist Vol. 2 #1 (BOOM! Studios) –  The second series dealing with the group of hackers follows on the plot from the first series, and tries to answer some unresolved questions.

Batgirl Annual #3 (DC Comics) – Kind of a catch-all for Batgirl, as she faces off against Helena Bertinelli, a former Batgirl (from No Man’s Land) and Dick Grayson (her pre-new 52 romantic interest).  Throw in a visit to Gotham Academy and this sounds pretty fun.

He-Man: Eternity War #8 (DC Comics) – There has been no missteps in this entire series as the creative team has pushed the envelope of what defines the core group of characters.  This is not your childhood’s He-Man.

Jem and the Holograms #5 (IDW Publishing) – This series has been nothing but fun since its launch.  It doesn’t look likely to stop any time soon either.  One can only hope that the suggested food fight from the cover gets realized inside.

Lazarus #18 (Image Comics) – Lazarus goes to Duluth to win the war, as different plot lines begin to intersect.

 

Elana

Top Pick: Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight: Trade Paperback Vol 3: Slay Ride and Blood Lagoon (Dark Horse) – “Books like ‘Grindhouse’ were the reason the Comics Code was invented.” – creator Alex De Campi.

That’s a promise and a warning. De Campi absolutely delivers on grindhouse cinema gratification in comic book form– even better, it comes from a frankly female perspective on the genre. This series is messed up in all the RIGHT ways.

Each trade contains self-contained story arcs so you can pick up volume 3 even if you’ve never read the series before. In Volume 3 my entirely fictional girlfriend, Deputy Garcia is back with her motorcycle and eyepatch. I can’t wait!

Series creator Alex de Campi is our podcast guest next week!

Batgirl Annual #3 (DC Comics) – Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher art by Bengal, David Lafuente, Mingjue Helen Chen, Ming Doyle…. Look at that list of awesome writers and artists! Not only do we get Babs catching up with Dick Grayson but we also see her meet with Batwoman and the Gotham Academy kids! These are all of my favorite things in one place! It is a standalone story you can read even if you aren’t reading the new Batgirl series. But after reading this I’m sure you’ll want to.

Phoebe Gloeckner: Diary of a Teenage Girl (North Atlantic Books) – Considered one of the best graphic novels of last decade it’s probably time that you (and I) finally read it! Plus there’s a movie of it coming out soon and you don’t want to be called a “poser”, right? The book is a combination of prose and illustration reads like autobiography. The press release calls it “a dark story of sex and drugs in the life of a 1970s teenage girl.” You should read Sean T Collins review because I can’t do it justice till I read the book.

1602 Witch Hunter Angela #2 (Marvel) – This is the funniest series in Secret Wars and the prettiest too. Last issue we met Shakespeare, Marlowe and King James (Logan Howlett aka Wolverine) and other Faustians (aka people with superpowers). This issue Angela and Sera will meet “Ye Olde Guardians of the Galaxy.”

 

Mr. H

Top Pick: Thors #2 (Marvel Comics) – The case is heating up as the murder mystery of the Gods continues. Blood, Hammers, and Justice shalt be served!

Daredevil #17 (Marvel Comics) – The last days of The Man Without Fear? Could be. This creative team has been white hot so I know Matt is in good hands, but I want to see the payoff.

Red Sonja Vol.2 #17 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Red hot chick swinging a sword, as usual all over this one. The 1973 one shot gave me a rejuvenation for this title. Hope the momentum doesn’t wane.

Superman #42 (DC Comics) – I am actually enjoying the prelude to the “Truth” storyline a lot more than the actual crossover. I’m interested to see just what it was that made Lois out Clark’s ID to the world? This intrepid reporter needs some answers. By Rao, I need them now!

TMNT Ongoing #48 (IDW Publishing) – The Stockman Swarm, The Shredder and Karai all move in for the kill. How could this not be good?

 

Paul

Top Pick: Thors #2 (Marvel) – the first issue of this story was fantastic; a crime story following the ‘police’ of Battleworld, the Thors.  Law and Order meets Asgardian officers, working on the orders of Lord Doom to keep the peace, and the foundation of Battleworld, in one piece.  Excited for what happens next.

Top Pick: X-Men ’92 #2 (Marvel) – the first issue totally brought me back to Saturday mornings, watching Marvel’s merry mutants as most of us remember them, complete with colourful costumes and Wolverine and Cyclops sniping at each other.  I am looking forward to see more from Cassandra Nova and what her rehabilitation facility for mutants is really all about.

1602 Witch Hunter Angela #2 (Marvel) – This was a very interesting first issue, following Angela hunting ‘witchbreed’, which turns out to be mutants.  The second issue puts Angela on the path to see dire omens not come to pass, and also introduces use to “Ye olde Guardians of the Galaxy”.  Looking forward to this.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #8 (Marvel) – I am a huge fan of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv show, and just as big a fan of the comic book treatment of the show.  It’s fun to see the tv agents paired up with various heroes from the Marvel universe an work together to solve the problem of the issue.  This issue has Agent May and Mockingbird setting out to kick some ass….sign me up!

 

Steven Attewell

Batgirl #42 (DC Comics) – despite not being remotely in the target demographic for this book, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of this series’ exploration of fame and identity.

Conan the Avenger #16 (Dark Horse) – Dark Horse’s Conan run has been one of the most consistently enjoyable comics for me in recent years (with the exception of that odd bit where Belit went to Cimmeria), so if given an option I’ll always pick one up.

Copperhead #9 (Image Comics) – Read the first trade of this unusual space-western/single-mom comic and really enjoyed the strange little world that Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski have thrown together, so I’ll keep following this story.

Rasputin #7 (Image Comics) – A really strange little gem, this series posits a revisionist history of the infamous Russian mystic in which Grigori Rasputin’s powers not only are quite real and extend to genuine resurrection and clairvoyancy, but he’s also secretly a prince in communion with the forces of Russian folklore.

Southern Bastards #10 (Image Comics) – having really enjoyed Scalped, I eagerly anticipated Jason Aaron’s new series. Took me a while to get into the first trade – something about the way Jason Latour draws mouths threw me off until I got used to it – but the second trade’s revelation of Coach Boss’ backstory was mesmerizing and made this a must-read for me.

Preview: Copperhead #8

Copperhead #8

Story By: Jay Faerber
Art By: Scott Godlewski
Art By: Ron Riley
Cover By: Scott Godlewski
Cover By: Ron Riley
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: APR150632
Published: June 10, 2015

You wanted more Boo? You got more Boo.

Copperhead08_Cover

Preview: Copperhead #7

Copperhead #7

Story By: Jay Faerber
Art By: Scott Godlewski
Art By: Ron Riley
Cover By: Scott Godlewski
Cover By: Ron Riley
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: MAR150559
Published: May 13, 2015

Sheriff Clara Bronson goes on a date with handsome schoolteacher Thaddeus Luken, unaware that a gang of vicious outlaws are headed straight for Copperhead.

Copperhead07_Cover

Preview: Copperhead #6

Copperhead #6

Story By: Jay Faerber
Art By: Scott Godlewski
Art By: Ron Riley
Cover By: Scott Godlewski
Cover By: Ron Riley
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: FEB150599
Published: April 8, 2015

It’s payday at the copper mine, which means Sheriff Clara Bronson is in for a particularly rowdy Friday night. Plus, Boo is offered an intriguing partnership.

Copperhead06_Cover

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone looking forward to?

Around the Tubes

The Comichron – 2000 for 2014: Sales estimates for the Top Thousand Comics and Graphic Novels – Some interesting stats.

iO9 – Which Super-Powers Are Awesome and Which Aren’t Worth the Price? – Our own Elana weighs in.

Gizmodo – Prepare To Be Insanely Jealous Of This Toddler’s Batmobile Stroller – Want!

GamePolitics – Zoe Quinn and Alex Lifschitz Launch Anti-Harassment Resource ‘Crash Override’ – Great to see!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Copperhead #5

Comic Vine – Mortal Kombat X #3

Preview: Copperhead #5

Copperhead #5

Story By: Jay Faerber
Art By: Scott Godlewski
Art By: Ron Riley
Cover By: Scott Godlewski
Cover By: Ron Riley
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: NOV140644
Published: January 14, 2015

There are no easy answers for Sheriff Clara Bronson in the conclusion of our first story arc!

Copperhead05_Cover

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Star_Wars_1_CoverWednesdays 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, highlighting a top pick, and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday. I think it’s safe to say we’re excited for a story that takes place in a galaxy far, far away.

Brett

Top Pick – Star Wars #1 (Marvel) – I’m a Star Wars fan, and have loved reading Dark Horse’s various series. I also have some fond memories of reading Marvel’s take back in the 80s (and still have a few issues laying around in my long boxes). What Marvel does with the license should be interesting, especially in comparing to how Dark Horse handled it all.

Avengers #40 (Marvel) – What Jonathan Hickman has been doing with the various Avengers titles has been exciting and an interesting direction for them. We’re ahead in the Marvel timeline seeing how things have progressed as “Time Runs Out.” All of this is leading to Secret Wars, so… there’s that? If anything, the story has been exciting and entertaining with some kick-ass art.

Copperhead #5 (Image) – I love this series, one of my favorites to debut in 2014. The first arc wraps up in a nice tidy bow and it sets up some interesting plot threads for the future. This is a great sci-fi western and if you’re into that sort of thing, absolutely pick up the trade paperback when it’s out next month.

Michael Jordan: Bull on Parade (Fantagraphics) – Wilfred Santiago’s graphic novel about the sports legend. It touches on his successes and struggles and has an interesting take on how an individual can turn into a product.

Stumptown Vol. 3 #5 (Oni Press) – The conclusion to “The Cast of the King of Clubs” has Dex deciding if she’ll seek justice or revenge. Writer Greg Rucka has been on fire and that’s helped by Justin Greenwood’s art.

Edward

Top Pick – Batgirl #38 (DC Comics) – Ever since the new creative team has taken over there has been a positive change in direction for this series which was already decent enough.  The series might be a bit lighter in pure superheroics, but it is heavier on themes and character development.

Damsels in Excess #4 (Aspen Comics) – Aspen’s unconventional fairy tale series takes another turn here as the heroines get closer to their final confrontation.  This is an interesting take on fairy tales, different from the other titles in a medium which is saturated with them at the moment.

Deep State #3 (BOOM! Studios) – This series which was easy to pick up, also proves to be hard to put down.  Even those that don’t like X-Files conspiracies will find some pure comic fun here.

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #31 (Zenescope) – When Calie Liddle won against the powers of Wonderland and took on the role of queen, fans of this series might have wondered if there were still stories to be told.  New series writer Erica Heflin proved in the first story arc that she is fit to the task,and the mother vs. daughter clash of the second story arc looks pretty fun.

Suicide Risk #21 (BOOM! Studios) – This series has not stopped since the first issue from presenting its own world full of superheroes but with a weird twist.  Now with his wife and alternate universe wife both living under the same roof, how will Requiem react when the fate of the world is in the balance?

Elana

Top Pick – Rat Queens Special: Braga #1 (Shadowline/Image) – If you like female centered stories and ever played D&D this deserves a read. And female characters who aren’t attractive humanoids don’t often get to tell their stories.

Lazarus #14 (Image) – everyone here is the best they are at what they do (including Forever herself). I gotta get caught up!

Silver Surfer #8 (Marvel) – It’s starting to get touching! A story about vulnerability. And Allred’s art is glorious as ever.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Marvel) – This came out last week, but it’s fun. pure fun. I’ve been a fan of Henderson’s art for a few years now and she has a uniquely feminist eye for the world. Her cartoon-y style should’t be underestimated because her pacing and breakdowns are strong. North was great on Adventure Time so bring on the zaniness.

George

Top Pick – Jupiter’s Legacy #5 (Image) – Although the spacing between issues is greater than we would like, this book has one of the best stories from Mark Millar. The amazing art by Frank Quitely make it a must for anyone’s Pull List.

Copperhead #5 (Image) – The conclusion to the first arc of this outstanding and imaginative series by Jay Faeber and Scott Godlewski.  It’s a crime procedural on a distant planet that feels like a mix between The Fuse and Saga; what else could you ask for?

Lazarus #14 (Image) – Greg Rucka has created a vast and amazing world for Forever, the protector of the Carlyle Family to roam free. With each new arc we learn more and more of this futuristic world consisting of ruling families and the Lazarus that protect each one.

Star Wars #1 (Marvel) – You can never have too much Star Wars material to soak up. This one, by Jason Aaron and artwork by John Cassaday, takes place between IV: A New Hope and V: The Empire Strikes Back. Bridging the story between the two movies should be a lot of fun for any Star Wars fan.

The Walking Dead #136 (Skybound/Image Comics) – One of the best stories out there, Robert Kirkman has reinvented The Walking Dead Universe with brand new dangers and horrors lurking around every corner. After all these years I still love when a new issue comes out and the new arc is going to be just as great as any in the past.

Matt

Top Pick – Teen Dog #5 (BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios)- Teen Dog has faithfully served up all kinds of superb cool in the first four issues, so this latest issue should be more of that. This round, Teen Dog is gonna have to confront his alter ego, who is probably totally not cool at all. Scoff.

Batgirl #38 (DC Comics) – The DC book with the most diversity in characters made headlines last month in a way that really doesn’t behoove what the creative team is going for with this series, but I’m sure it can make a comeback. My roommate thought I was reading a Marvel book when he looked over my shoulder to see the first issue of this new run, and that’s a good thing when it comes to the kind of demographics a book like this is appealing to.

Daredevil #12 (Marvel) – Waid and Samnee are doing something more mainstream superhero books need to be doing, which is telling short, small-scale stories. The solicit for this issue promises a conclusion to the great story started last issue, along with some teases for potential seeds leading to bigger stories; those are good too!

S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (Marvel) – Giving Mark Waid the reins on a Marvel Universe-spanning crossover book that loosely ties into the Agents of Shield television show is a lovely idea. This issue’s pairing of Waid with Humberto Ramos to do a Ms. Marvel-centric story is all-kinds of awesome, too.

Silver Surfer #8 (Marvel) – This book is always a treat, with Slott’s fun sense of adventure and Allred’s incredible, whimsical art. Promised in this issue is a planet filled with billions of varied species, so the sky’s the limit!

Sean

Top Pick – Daredevil #12 (Marvel) – Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil is one of the best comics on the market, even before it was unnecessarily rebooted, and continues to inspire awe with beautiful art that I wish I could plaster my walls with, and an emotionally complex script that is atypical of most mainstream productions. Daredevil’s new conflict with the Stunt-Master continues, Matt lies in his autobiography, and more!

Animal Man Vol. 7: Red Plague TP (DC Comics) – Animal Man of the 1980s and 1990s by Vertigo was fantastic, featuring the much acclaimed run by Grant Morrison (among many others). A new TP collects issues #64-79, Annual 1.

Justice League United #8 (DC Comics) – I’ve kept away from most JL books since the Trinity event, mostly because JL itself is a bit overblown while JLD, despite an awesome cast has suffered from sub-par storytelling. Other JL incarnations in the New 52 aren’t even worth mentioning. JLU, however, is an exciting romp through space, bringing in some of my favorite science fiction heroes with a new, truly compelling First Nations superheroine, Miiyahbin. In this issue, JLU and the Legion of Super-Heroes go toe-to-toe.

The New 52: Future’s End #37 (DC Comics) – Despite my general disgust with the ploy that, if you want to keep up with the DC Universe, you have to buy weeklies (well, you really don’t…), I have actually rather enjoyed Future’s End, or, rather, some of its subplots. I have a feeling that the conclusion of the series will be a great let down, especially since the future shown here will probably not be carried out in other books. Like, I would buy up an Amethyst and Frankenstein team-up comics. Alas…

Star Trek #40 (IDW Publishing) – A well-written exploration of the AU created by Abrams’ films, this issue concludes the “Q Gambit” in which Q has transported Kirk and crew to the future, challenging him to confront the reality that a “no win” scenario really is unwinnable. Plus, Q himself might cease to exist!

Star Wars #1 (Marvel) – The Star Wars franchise returns to Marvel. I can’t say that I’m particularly thrilled about it, but since it can’t be changed I might as well see what Marvel’s about. Objectively, this issue ushers in an unprecedented era in the history of Star Wars, when for the first time the difference between the Expanded Universe and the films are erased and a single continuity is established.

Comixstravaganza Live’s “Big Daddy Cool” Johnny Dellarocca’s

Top Pick – Star Wars #1 (Marvel) – Everyone is head over heels about this release, and the most obvious reason to be is being overlooked by many: for the first time EVER, the comic stories will be canon! Remember earlier this year when Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm said that the EU and all previous comics would be labeled as “Legacy” and everything moving forward would be canon? Well, here ya go! You’re welcome.

Star Wars Legends Marvel Years Omnibus HC (Marvel) – Speaking of “Legends”, this week also see the release of the Omnibus HC, Star Wars: The Marvel Years. This collects all the Marvel comics series starting with the 1977 movie adaptation (which saved the comics industry by the way) and runs through the Empire Strikes Back adaptation. That is one hefty tome, but won’t it look awesome on my bookshelf?

Men of Mystery #95 (AC Comics) – Fans of Dynamite’s Project: Superpowers can read the original tales of seventeen Golden Age heroes! It’s classic pulp superhero adventures at their best! Artists include Joe Kubert, Reed Crandall, and Bob Powell. The market on this one is smallish, so this might be a tough one to find!

Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #3 (Dynamite Entertainment) – as a professional magician I am naturally interested in Harry Houdini. However, I have a confession to make. I have an entire library of Houdini books and biographies, and went to far to name my office and studio complex “The Houdini Room!” This series has been interesting because of the real life animosity between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They started as friends but became rivals over the issue of spiritualism. Some have even implicated Doyle in Houdini’s murder (look it up). The time line here is a little skewed, probably to appeal to the Steampunk fandom, but it is a fun read nonetheless.

Wild’s End #5 (BOOM! Studios) – I really can’t believe more people aren’t buzzing about this title. War of the Worlds set in depression era 1930s starring anamorphic animals as the heroes! How could you not love this? Further, this book is the very definition of Dieselpunk! That’s right, I said DIESELpunk. It is the retro futuristic sci-fi and fantasy of the deco/jazz age! If you aren’t familir with Dieselpunk you can learn more by tuning into my Diesel Powered Podcast on iTunes!

Brett’s Best Comics of 2014

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2014. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2014, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read (and does not reflect what other contributors to this site might think). If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

This was a particularly tough year of choices with some categories easily having their own top ten or twenty-five. Check out below what made the cut!

Best Super Hero Comic – Ms. Marvel

Ms_Marvel_1_Cover2014 is defined by the diversification of comics. Publishers recognized comic book readers come in all shapes and sizes, and expanded their lines to bring more choices to fans. Marvel led the pack in this, launching an unprecedented number of comics with female leads.

This expansion of comics was summed up best with Ms. Marvel, Marvel‘s daring series that featured a brand new character, a Muslim teenage girl from Jersey named Kamala Khan.

The series written by G. Willow Wilson feels so real, and down to Earth, with dialogue, issues, actions, and reactions we’d actually expect from a teenager, and especially one trying to fit in, in more ways that one.

This is a series that delivers with every issue, and also is one of the most important to launch in recent times. If there was a signal of the “age of diversity,” this is it.

Runners Up:

  • Archer & Armstrong – We seriously don’t give enough love to Valiant comics here on the site (and that’ll change in 2015, you can see below why). This series which saw a break late in the year, and then a mini-series team-up with Quantum & Woody, was consistently funny, entertaining, and could make you think at the same time. This was social satire in ass-kicking form.
  • Avengers/New Avengers – Two series that were a bit difficult to split apart. Writer Jonathan Hickman has been guiding the two with a long-game story that sees the Marvel world actually shaken, heroes rise and fall, and actually something new, tough choices with consequences. All of this will continue into 2015 as “Time Runs Out,” and Marvel heads into its second Secret Wars. Hopefully Hickman sticks the landing when his run is up.
  • She-Hulk – When you need to, sue, when that doesn’t work, punch things. Another example of Marvel trying something new, they reached out to actual lawyer (and prolific comic writer) Charles Soule to give us a different and fun take on She-Hulk. The art was hit and miss, but the writing was always spot-on, like a well prepared case.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man – The release of this series was a bit spotty, but each issue had you linger on pages to pick up on every small joke. I really hope we see more of this in 2015, but sadly it looks like the series, and hope for a new version aren’t in the works.

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – Southern Bastards

southern bastardsWelcome to Craw County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs football team…and more bastards than you’ve ever seen. When you’re an angry old man like Earl Tubb, the only way to survive a place like this…is to carry a really big stick

Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have created a Southern gothic noir series that once you think you’ve got it down, pulls the rug right out from under you. A bit of a riff on Walking Tall, the series is a must read, especially when you get to the end of that first arc.

It’s a brilliant exploration of the Southern community, especially its focus on sports and football. The second arc has begin with a greater exploration of its main villain, and with that has created a even more layered and fascinating read.

Runners Ups:

  • The Bunker – A time travel tale from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari that’s trippy and keeps you on your toes. The future is a mess due to one group, and the hope to prevent it from happening is traveling back and telling younger versions of themselves what to do to stop it. But, are all motives altruistic? This is an amazing dissection of fate, time travel, and relationships.
  • East of West- A sci-fi western where the Four Horsemen on the apocalypse literally roam the Earth. Writer Jonathan Hickman again is the one responsible for this awesomeness, and he’s helped with amazing art from Nick Dragotta. In the latest issue, war has broken out, showing this past year has been all build up.
  • Lazarus- In a dystopian near-future government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and posession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule in writer Greg Rucka‘s all-too real world. The level of detail and thought that’s gone in to how this world works is amazing. This is social commentary in a sci-fi/action package. It helps the art by Michael Lark is beautiful to look at, and the series features a kick-ass heroine in the form of Forever Carlyle.
  • Letter 44 – Remember Charles Soule from above? Yeah, he also writes this too. This series sees a new President have to deal with a war in the Middle East, and also aliens setting up camp in deep space. This is a fantastic look at the choices our leaders make, and political maneuvering. If the last two issues’ revelations don’t have you excited… well, there’s no hope for you then.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – The Delinquents

DELINQ_001_COVER_RIVERARemember when Run-DMC and Aerosmith hooked up? How off the hook that was? Yeah, this is sort of like that, but involves an ass-map.

2014 saw Valiant bring together Archer & Armstrong and Quantum & Woody, two of their most entertaining series, and characters into this one insane comic. Seriously, what drugs were folks on when they were coming up with this!?

Revolving around a mythic mountain for hobos, a map on an ass, genetically modified beings, and an evil corporation, the comic is constantly hilarious, beautifully drawn, and beyond entertaining.

We took a break from the two teams’ own series for this, but you know, that’s ok, because this was beyond awesome.

No other comic had as many laughs per page, and we also got to learn about the hobo code too!

Runners Up:

  • Genius – Delayed many years, this mini-series was beyond timely. A tactical genius has brought together the various gangs of LA and decides to secede some blocks of the neighborhood. What’s also great, that tactical genius is a woman. Released weekly around when Ferguson was occurring, the series reflected the troubled society we live in.
  • The Midas Flesh – Don’t know this one? How about an edge-of-your-seat, save the universe adventure with two butt-kickin’ ladies and a dinosaur in a spacesuit. It might look a “kids” comic, but the debate about the use of weapons of mass destruction, and mass genocide is impressive, especially since the comic was so much fun.
  • StarlightMark Millar does his best homage to Flash Gordon (which had its own fantastic series from Dynamite) in this series with art from Goran Parlov. The series clicked for me, in a pseudo-retro pulp adventure that was full of heart. From a writer that usually goes for over the top shock, this was a much welcome change.
  • The WakeScott Snyder and Sean Murphy‘s series wrapped up, and all I wanted was more. It’s a series that looks at the bigger picture of humanity and our relationship with the world, in two very different parts.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – On the Books: A Graphic Tale of Working Woes at NYC’s Strand Bookstore (World Around Us)

on the booksGreg Farrel and published by Microcosm Publishing, the graphic novel is the first-hand account of the 2012 labor struggle at New York City’s legendary Strand bookstore.

I know this’ll come as a shock, but I’m a political nut, so getting to see a graphic novel about this labor struggle was like finding gold.

What’s fantastic about this graphic novel is that it really presents an honest opinion. It covers the store and its troubles. It examines the difficult decisions and no win scenario of the employees. It also criticizes the union these employees belong to. It allows us the reader to explore all sides and come to our own opinion. For Farrell, it wouldn’t be unexpected that the story presented, and his experience depicted, to be very one sided. Instead though, he looks at all sides, especially his fellow employees, and does so with the views and opinions of his coworkers.

This wasn’t just a graphic novel, but a prime example of graphic journalism.

Runners Up:

  • An Iranian Metamorphosis – By Mana Neyestani and published by Uncivilized Books. The graphic novel was at the top of my list of books to get at this year’s Small Press Expo. One of Neyestani’s cartoons sparked riots in Iran, which landed him and his editor in solitary confinement. The graphic novel explores the complex interplay between art, law, politics, ethnic sensitivities, and authoritarian elements inside Iran’s Islamic Republic as well as refugee’s attempts to find safety and freedom.
  • Andre the Giant: Life and Legend – Andre the Giant was a 7’4″, 500 lb wrestling legend, but his nickname of “giant” also applied to his life in general, not just his size. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, especially watching wrestling, it was hard to miss this legend of a man. In this graphic novel out from publisher First Second, creator Box Brown pulls back the curtain a bit on the larger than life sensation.
  • Ricky Rouse Has a GunRicky Rouse Has a Gun is part action story, part parody, part commentary on intellectual property, and totally entertaining. It actually might be “too smart” in its layered commentary and the fact itself is an homage, talking about homages. But beyond that depth, the characters are entertaining, moments are hillarious, and action worthy of the big screen. Ricky Rouse to me is an ode to action movies, and the sequels they spawn, with enough to get you to think about our remix/re-use culture.
  • The Rise of Aurora West – A follow up to last year’s Battling Boy, this graphic novel focuses on Aurora West and her origin in a way. A fantastic, entertaining read that is a sequel/prequel/stand alone story that’s perfect for adults and teens. More please!

Best New Series – Gotham Academy

gotham academy #1While Ms. Marvel above easily represents a new focus and the greater diversity of the comic industry, Gotham Academy from DC Comics shows off that publisher’s shaking up their own line of comics.

Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl, Gotham Academy has a focus, bring young adult female focused lit to comics. It beyond succeeds with an energy, voice, and look that’s been painfully missing from comics for too long.

It might take place in Gotham, and Bruce Wayne might make appearances, but this isn’t just another Batman book, it shows you can build off of something familiar in a new way, and do that successfully.

The comic is as much teenage drama as it is mystery, and for that it is amazing. Hopefully DC decides its future looks more like this, and we get more fresh tales, with new characters, in familiar settings.

  • Copperhead – A sci-fi western that has a new sheriff, with a mysterious past, coming to town. It helps she’s a single mother too. Each issue just nails it as far as pacing and story with art that feels like a western throwback, just with aliens.
  • Evil Empire – Was there a series that kept you on your toes more than this one? Each issue feels like a shock as it focuses on how that evil government that seems to exist in so many stories actually got in control. It’s also a nice finger at politics, political parties, voters, and corporations. Each issue will leave you debating political philosophy with yourself.
  • The Fuse – Another sci-fi cop series (there seems to be a lot of those this year), this one takes place on a space station and plays out like the best police dramas. Each issue presents small pieces of the crime, and just enough clues to leave you guessing. Add in an interesting setting, and a global cast, you have one hell of a series.
  • Rasputin – I had no idea what to expect with the first issue, and even after reading that first issue, I had no idea what to expect. Three issues in, I’m still not quite sure. The series focuses on the very real Rasputin, giving us glimpses at the historical mystery. Each issue is amazing to look at, and after finishing them, I want more. In a year of genre busting series, this is one of the most unique.

Best Single Issue – Bitch Planet #1

BitchPlanet01_CoverAHave you had something that’s been built up, and then you get to it you’re disappointed yourself? Yeah, this isn’t an example of that. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro teamed up for the very third time to bring us the premiere issue that actually lives up to the hype.

Their highly-anticipated women in-prison sci-fi exploitation riff is amazing on so many levels, making us examine our own views on society and feminism.

The issue plays out in a way that it’s a very enjoyable women in-prison exploitation story, a straight homage to the classics, but it’s that ending where the rug is pulled out from under you, making you go back and re-read the issue immediately.

The fact it came out in December, after numerous “best of” lists had already been released caused it to be overlooked by many, and it’s an example why you should wait until all comics are released. If it’s this quality with each issue, it won’t be overlooked when 2015’s best are announced.

Social commentary and comics at its best.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – The Multiversity

multiversity 1 coverOk, this is more than one issue, so sort of cheating. Writer Grant Morrison and various artists take us around the DC Multiverse for an adventure to save all of reality. The series is comprised of six complete adventures set in different parallel worlds with a two-part framing story and a guidebook.

First if you need a “guidebook” to help tell your story, you’ve got issues to begin with.

In general Grant Morrison is hit and miss for me, and clearly this series, which has seen five issues released so far, has been a miss.

While a appreciate what Morrison does in deconstructing comics, and comic history, I feel at times he becomes too referential in that if you don’t know the history of DC Comics in and out, you’ll miss much of the point.

His comics aren’t entertaining to me, I feel dumb, and left out, like I’m not one of the “cool kids,” a “fake geek guy.” Many have gushed at some of the issues, like Pax Americana, which riffs on Watchmen, and in that particular case some claimed better than the original. But too me, much of it comes off as pale imitations.

This is for the hardcore only, and as someone who is generally more a Marvel person than DC, I’m not the audience here.

Best Event of the Year – Aliens/Predator/Prometheus: Fire & Stone

alien vs predator fire and stone 1 coverI’m fairly new to Dark Horse‘s offerings of comics based on the world of Aliens and Predator, but 2014 saw the company relaunch that universe in comics with a four series event called Fire & Stone. Each series Aliens: Fire & Stone, Predator: Fire & Stone, Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone, and Prometheus: Fire & Stone, all tied into each other, but also stood on their own.

Each series organically played off each other, as if evolving from each, in much the same sort of growth and evolution we’ve seen within the universe itself.

The series also did an impressive thing, it made me enjoy the movie Prometheus more, the much maligned prequel of sorts to the Aliens and Predator universe.

What’s truly great is that you could read each series, and really enjoy them on their own. At the same time, if you read them all, you saw how one played into the other to form a greater narrative.

Hopefully this is just the beginning and we get more in 2015!

Runners Up:

  • Armor Hunters – Valiant reigned destruction on their world in Armor Hunters, as aliens descended upon Earth to destroy X-O Manowar. Pulling in numerous series, the event was epic, and world changing.
  • Forever Evil – DC has been hit and miss, but this event has been pretty solid. Especially when you look at it as commentary between the dark and gritty villains of modern times versus the cleaner villains of yesteryear
  • Avengers/New Avengers: Time Runs Out– Jonathan Hickman has been weaving a hell of a tale catapulting us into the future of the Marvel universe, giving us alternate Earth’s almost destroying the 616, and choices with actual consequences.
  • Transformers: Dawn of the Autobots – IDW’s numerous Transformers series have been awesome and this is the culmination of what has been going on. Megatron is an Autobot and religious zealot. The Decepticons are scattered and in disarray. IDW has breathed even more life into the Transformers which celebrated 30 years in 2014.

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics/Small Publishers

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2014 was a year we saw major creators continue to shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that would fit our varied tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

We named Indie Comics “it” in 2013, and nothing changed in 2014.

Runners Up:

  • Zombies – Zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, lead marching shuffling along by The Walking Dead. Revival changed the genre a bit, with so many releases giving us so many other spins and perspectives. Afterlife With Archie continues to shake up what we think of Archie Comics. iZombie comes to the CW in 2015. The genre continues to cross over in to movies, television, books, toys and more. I thought the phenomenon would end in 2014, I was wrong.
  • Digital Comics – Digital first. Digital exclusive. Web comics. This was the year digital comics continued to break through with numerous platforms launching, many with different business models than the “buy each issue” one we’re used to. The sector is big enough to be noticed by tech giants, which lead comiXology to be gobbled up by Amazon. Expect even more of a digital land rush in 2015.

Best Surprise of the Year – Diversity

Women Symbol2014 saw diversity, and can be called the “Year of the Woman” when it comes to comics, in both good and bad ways.

As you can see above, Marvel focused on diversifying its comics with more series featuring women in the spotlight. Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Elektra, Black Widow, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, and Storm were just some of what came out.

DC Comics expanded the women on the page, and the women creating comics with Gotham Academy, a revamped Batgirl, and the hiring of talented women to create that and more.

Characters had their race or gender switched such as Captain America, Thor, Solar: Man of the Atom, and Archie’s The Shield.

Comics began to reflect, and look like its readers, a diverse group of individuals who come from all backgrounds, and are in all shapes and sizes.

Women especially were the focus, with more women led comics than ever before, and much of the year fueled by discussion about the women fanbase, harassment at conventions and online, and how to get more women interested and creating.

It’s hard to tell if this was just a fad or here to stay, but 2015 will be a key year if we want to make this positive change permanent.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s disappointment continued to be so, as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existence only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so, no longer choosing comics to promote, as we feel some responsibility for things gone wrong and your dollars being held hostage.

Kickstarter continues to be tone-deaf, and it’s only a matter of time before someone stands up and challenges the platform with a system that’s fair to creators, and protects those who pledge.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Publisher of the Year – Valiant Entertainment

VALIANT_logoThere is no other comic other that that’s done these specific three things this year.

  1. Every comic is entertaining – There hasn’t been an issue produced by Valiant that hasn’t been beautiful to look at, and a fun read. There just hasn’t been a bad comic at all. That type of record is impressive, and helps the company is focused on hiring top talent, and making sure their line is tight as far as what’s produced.
  2. They’ve created a universe that works – Read one series, or read them all, Valiant has created a line of comics where this is possible. If you read them all, you’re treated to a grand story as pieces of the greater puzzle is peppered throughout. If you read an individual series, they’re still great reads, and stand on their own. Add in the fact they’ve had some world changing events, and it gets even more impressive. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but Valiant pulls it off every month. This is the best “super-hero” universe out there right now.
  3. They’re willing to try new things – Keeping their line small. Trying different promotions like with a local coffee chain, being out there first when it comes to something new digitally, this is a company that’s trying to get a greater percentage of the market by growing its audience and finding new readers. That’s something a lot of publishers aren’t willing to do, or even try.

2015 sees the launch of their new initiative Valiant Next that’s bringing us new series that have organically grown out of what’s come before, and will guide us into the future of the Valiant Universe.

Runners Up:

  • BOOM! Studios – Last year’s best publisher is still fantastic and has put out some amazing comics over the past year. They diversified their line with BOOM! Box, some more licensed comics, and impressive deals with movie and television studios. But, more isn’t necessarily better, and while there’s been fantastic series, there’s been some misses too. The company has signed some impressive deals and is starting to bring in top names and creators for deals and releases you might expect elsewhere. Still, out of all of the smaller publishers, BOOM! remains the most poised to take the reigns from Image as number three out there, and challenge the big two.
  • First Second – Consistently putting out the best graphic novels on the market, First Second’s releases cover numerous genres, types, looks, and characters. They’re synonymous with quality, there wasn’t a graphic novel they released I didn’t enjoy on some level.
  • IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher that thinks outside of the box when it comes to building it’s readership and that’s why they’re on this list. Not only did they continue to make a fantastic move tying in their comics with toys, they’ve also expanded into television and games. They’ve put out some fantastic new series like Winterworld. The company needs a few more creator owned original series, and they’ll be a big challenger for the top spot in 2015.
  • Image Comics – Image puts out some amazing comics, there’s no doubt about that. For all the hits though, there’s a lot of misses. It’s also a publisher that’s driven by the creator’s success, instead of building successes themselves. You also have to wonder, if some of the series everyone’s buzzed about would have the audiences they would if it weren’t for those creators. In other words, is Image the success, or the creators themselves?
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Preview: Copperhead #4

Copperhead #4

Story By: Jay Faerber
Art By: Scott Godlewski
Art By: Ron Riley
Cover By: Scott Godlewski
Cover By: Ron Riley
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: OCT140731
Published: December 10, 2014

Sheriff Clara Bronson sets a trap while Deputy Boo chases down a lead—both figuratively and literally.

Copperhead04_Cover

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