Written by CULLEN BUNN Art by RAMÓN F. BACHS Colors by STÉPHANE PAITREAU Letters by DAVE SHARPE Cover A by VIKTOR KALVACHEV Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON Cover C by SHAWN CRYSTAL Preorder Edition Cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ On sale DECEMBER 18 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+
The lethal assassin Roku is reeling from a brutal defeat, but an even bigger fight awaits…
It’s round 2 between Roku and the superspy Ember-1!
In order to save a life, the lethal weapon Roku is going to have to kill a lot of people. Plus, the first appearance of the Minister of Blades! All in Roku #2!
Comics featuring a villain as a protagonist can often be a dicey proposition. If the character isn’t in some way sympathetic it can be hard for the audience to find a connection. Roku is the exception to that rule. I say rule, but really it’s just a personal observation. She’s far from a sympathetic character in terms of her motivations, despite her tragic history. That’s revealed to some extent this issue through dialogue and the character’s internal monologue.
The first cliche of the book is that despite Roku being an unscrupulous assassin villain, she seems to be willing to do “the right thing”. Though arguably not for the best of reasons. It’s at this point that we find ourselves rooting for the character. While it may seem familiar to some, Cullen Bunn frames the story and the character in such a way that you’ll never complain that the story has that familiar sense about it.
The book showcases Roku’s skills, as well as the oddly creepy hair powers she has as she cuts through her enemies like cheese wire through a block of cheddar. Her hair powers are one of my favorite things about the character. Though I have to admit at finding it a little creepy at the same time. It’s both an interesting ability for a character and one that still has the ability to take me off guard. It isn’t often you see a character who can use her hair as a weapon.
Bunn’s story seems pretty straightforward, though one can start to see the subtle complexities being teased out to us.
Bunn is joined by artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau, whose style is clean with enough flare to provide an interesting look to the book. You can tell exactly what’s happening on each page even though there’s frequently some form of swift and brutal encounter between Roku and somebody else.
Roku #2 takes the series firmly into New-Reader-Friendly territory, with the focal point of the story being Roku’s mission rather than the character herself and a deep dive into her past. While her mysterious past is brought up enough to familiarize the unfamiliar, it hasn’t been anything more than characters alluding to what has gone before in a way that doesn’t break the story if you’ve no idea what happened.
At the end of the day, this book is still a fun read. There’s a bit more to unpack for fans of Roku or readers of Ninjak, but either way, there’s more than enough here to pull you back for the third issue.
Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writer: Cullen Bunn Artist: Jesús Hervás Colorist: Niko Guardia Letterer: Ed Dukeshire Cover Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey Price: $14.99
The Empty Man has gone viral—not just pathologically, but also through the airwaves as cultists broadcast their “message” of indoctrination to all within range of a television. Agents Jensen & Marsh must escort the Kerry family outside the city limits, shielding them from quarantine crews and the cults looking to bring the infected Melissa into their ranks.
Written by Eisner Award-nominated author Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Bone Parish) and illustrated by artist Jesús Hervás (Lucas Stand), Manifestation is the third installment in The Empty Man franchise, bringing the haunting story of the Kerry family to a close.
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How many lives must the lethal assassin Roku take in her first series? Roku #1 begins a journey to find out!
Killing her way around the globe, the deadly weapon called Roku will face a challenge she can’t simply execute.
Being bad has never been so fun.
There has always been something fun about reading a comic about the bad guy. Roku is another character to come from Ninjak, following on the heels of the spectacular Killers series. Roku features a mercenary assassin with a tragic past. Don’t all great characters have tragic pasts, really? And the first issue delivers a fast pace as she completes a couple of missions within the comic.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about the character is that she can use her hair as a weapon. She’s able to control it and then use it to slice and dice her opponents. That gives the artists some excellent chances to flex their muscles and get creative with her free-flowing locks of red hair. Think Carnage’s symbiote tendrils.
Writer Cullen Bunn’s story in this book seems pretty straightforward. Through his narration and the dialogue Bunn’s able to give readers unfamiliar with the character enough context that they understand who she is and her motivations. It serves as a great ground zero for those familiar with the character get refreshed and see where Bunn’s take begins.
The primary job of any first issue is to pull the reader back for more. With Roku #1 Cullen Bunn, artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau do just enough to entice me back for the second issue, although there seems to be something lacking from the comic. There was magic (pun intended) about Bunn’s first issue of Punk Mambo, a series he recently wrapped up for Valiant as well, that just isn’t repeated here.
Now comparing the two characters isn’t exactly an apples to apples view point; they’re both different characters, and one has had a lot more time in the limelight recently than the other (and my own personal bias toward Punk Mambo isn’t helping here either). That said, I’m confident that by the end of this book I’m going to want to read a lot more about Roku – whether I love the character, or love to hate her.
Ultimately a fun book, and one that Valiant fans should pick up. Whether it’ll attract new readers remains to be seen.
Written by CULLEN BUNN Art by RAMÓN F. BACHS Cover A by DAVE JOHNSON Cover B by VIKTOR KALVACHEV Cover C by MARC LAMING Pre-Order Edition Cover by HOWARD CHAYKIN Blank Cover Also Available $3.99 | 32 pages | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 30th
How many lives must the lethal assassin Roku take in her first series?
Killing her way around the globe, the deadly weapon called Roku will face a challenge she can’t simply execute.
Coming to shelves October 30th, we’ll find out how many lives the lethal assassin Roku must take in her first series! Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Ramón F. Bachs launch the four-issue series that has Roku killing her way around the globe.
We got to ask Cullen Bunn about the brand new series that goes full-on “John Wick style action.”
Graphic Policy: Hi Cullen! How’s it going?
Cullen Bunn: Going great! I just returned home from a couple of trips (to New York and Baltimore), so I’m a little behind, but I’m writing comics during Halloween season! What could be better?
GP: You’ve recently finished a pretty damn good mini-series featuring Punk Mambo; Now that you’re scripting Roku is there a difference in how you approach the two characters?
CB: Oh, yeah. Roku and Punk have such different personalities, different themes, that it is impossible to treat them the same. With Punk, I wanted to spin a fun horror yarn. With Roku, I went for full on John Wick style action. I listened to different music, wrote at a different pace. Everything, down to the pacing of the books, is different… in a good way.
GP: Roku hasn’t really been shown as a protagonist yet in the Valiant universe; what are the challenges, or opportunities, that come from placing her in that position for the first time?
CB: Maybe she’s still the villain!
CB: I wanted to approach this as Roku’s first appearance. We’re not seeing any major Valiant heroes here. I didn’t want anyone to steal Roku’s time in the spotlight. Since she hasn’t been the lead before, it was so much fun helping her shine. Of course, she has backstory, and getting that across without slowing this story down, was a bit of a challenge. I think I found a pretty good middle ground, though.
GP: Valiant’s got a reputation of being very new reader friendly with first issues. How familiar does a reader need to be with Roku’s past to enjoy this?
CB: A new reader doesn’t need to know anything about Roku when they pick up this book. As I mentioned, I treated it as her first appearance. We’ll fill you in on anything vital along the way.
GP: You’re using Roku to explore a side of the Valiant universe that we haven’t really seen before. Can you tell us any more about that without revealing too much?
CB: As we jump into this book, Roku has been working with a sinister criminal organization—a gathering of faceless movers and shakers. That’s where we start, but we used that as a springboard to introduce a number of criminal groups and (especially) a number of assassins, mercenaries, and killers. Some of these ne’er-do-wells have big roles. Some have brief appearances, but all of them hint at new factions that will be part of Valiant moving forward.
GP: Is there anything different you need to do for your own processes when centering a story around a character that has been seen primarily as villainous?
CB: I’ve made a career out of writing villains and anti-heroes. For this, I was kind of able to do my own thing. I did want this book to feel different, though, and I put a lot of thought into how to make that happen. Here, I wanted to focus on action and violence and the criminal underworld.
GP: Do you think that we’re still going to view her as a villain after this series?
CB: She certainly starts that way! As for how she ends up… it all depends on how that final act plays out.
GP: You’ve introduced a couple new characters in the first issue; what can you tell us about them without revealing too much about the story?
CB: Elena is Roku’s contact and handler in Russia. I wanted someone who could counterbalance the seriousness and darkness of Roku. She is a talented character, and I really came to love her over the course of the series, even though she seems a bit bumbling.
Ember-1, on the other hand, is every bit as serious and lethal as Roku. She is an enhanced British operative loaded with the very best gear. What makes her really dangerous, though, is that she seems to know more about Roku than Roku knows herself!
GP: Finally, is there any other Valiant character that you’d like to get your hands on?
CB: Oh, yeah. There are some characters I feel like I was born to write. I’m not mentioning them right now, though, because my secrets run deep.
GP: Thanks so much for answering our questions and can’t wait to check out the series!
Writer: Cullen Bunn Artist: Fran Galán Letters: Dave Sharpe Cover: Fran Galán $3.99 / 32 pages / Full Color / ON SALE 10.30.19
In his quest to save all of reality, time-lost knight Auguste de Riviere is beset by his most fearsome foe yet – himself! A brutal clash of knight versus knight raises the stakes as well as a number of terrifying questions, the most frightening of which happens to be: Is Auguste truly fighting for the right side?
Bought to life by AfterShock alum Cullen Bunn (UNHOLY GRAIL, DARK ARK, BROTHERS DRACUL, WITCH HAMMER) with art from Fran Galán (Tales from the Suicide Forest, Unleash), this is time travel at its most beguiling!
Written by CULLEN BUNN, PETER MILLIGAN Art by ADAM GORHAM, ROBERT GILL Cover by DAN BRERETON $14.99 | 144 pages | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 23rd
In her first-ever solo series, hard-living voodoo priestess Punk Mambo investigates a series of abductions in the New Orleans gutter punk scene, stumbling upon a deadlier mystery that takes her to the haunted shores of Haiti.
From writer Cullen Bunn (Venom) and artist Adam Gorham (New Mutants: Dead Souls) comes this hilariously horrifying breakout adventure for Valiant’s fan-favorite mystic malcontent.
Collecting the complete PUNK MAMBO five-issue limited series, along with PUNK MAMBO #0 from writer Peter Milligan and artist Robert Gill.