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Unearth Infects Readers and Gets a Second Printing

Cullen Bunn, Kyle Strahm, and Baldemar Rivas’ hit new body horror series Unearth is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand for this creepy story best described as The X-Files meets HBO’s Chernobyl

In Unearth, a flesh-warping disease ravages a remote village in Mexico and a scientific task force travels to the inhospitable area to investigate the contamination. 

Tracing the source of the disease to a nearby cave system, the team discovers a bizarre, hostile ecosystem and a supernatural revelation from which they may never escape. 

Unearth #1, second printing (Diamond Code MAY198071) will hit comic shops on Wednesday, August 7. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers is Monday, July 15.

Unearth #1, second printing

Preview: The Empty Man: Recurrence SC

The Empty Man: Recurrence SC

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jesús Hervás
Colorist: Niko Guardia
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Price: $14.99

Horror sensation Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, Bone Parish)  returns to the world of Empty Man with artist Jesús Hervás (Lucas Stand, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser) in this new ongoing series. 

The nation is in the grip of a terrible pandemic. The so-called Empty Man disease causes insanity and violence. Government quarantines are mandatory. 

One of the afflicted is Melissa Kerry, and the next step should be to quarantine her—but those who enter quarantine are never seen again. Melissa’s family won’t let that happen. All they have to do is care for her, keep her worsening condition a secret—and they’ll do anything, trust anyone, to keep her safe.

Recurrence is the second installment in The Empty Man franchise and explores the psychological horror of a family member in decline, and the depths one will go to protect those they love.

Collects issues #1-4.

The Empty Man: Recurrence SC

Knights Temporal #1 Sells Out Ahead of Release and Gets a Second Printing

Even though it doesn’t get released until the end of the month, Knights Temporal #1 has sold out ahead of release. AfterShock has announced that the debut issue will get a second printing.

Knights Temporal is written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Fran Galan, lettering by Simon Bowland, and the main cover by Galan. It also features a lenticular incentive color by Mike Rooth.

When Auguste de Riviere returned from the Crusades, he was ashamed and horrified by the things he had done. Hoping to reclaim his soul, he pledges to root out evil wherever it might be found. But when he pursued a vile sorcerer into a forbidden forest, his life was shattered. Auguste ventured into the dark forest, but emerged in the modern world. Accompanied now by the enigmatic Jane Fool, Auguste hunts a madman while trying to piece together the mystery of his very existence.

The second printing can be ordered with Diamond code MAY199157.

Roku is unleashed by Valiant, Cullen Bunn, and Ramón F. Bachs this October

New York Times bestselling writer Cullen Bunn and stunning artist Ramón F. Bachs unleash Roku, Valiant’s villainous redhead! Former MI6 operative turned contract killer, Roku’s new mission will test her in ways she never expected!

Roku is a thrilling, four-issue limited series launching from Valiant at comic book shops everywhere on October 30, 2019, featuring colors by Stéphane Paitreau, letters by Dave Sharpe, and covers by Viktor KalvachevDave JohnsonMarc Laming, and Howard Chaykin.

Roku

Review: Unearth #1

Unearth #1

Unearth #1 throws you into the nightmarish action. With a story by Cullen Bunn and Kyle Strahm, the debut mixes together science and horror to deliver a slightly unsettling start.

A disease is ravaging a remote Mexican village which sends a scientific task force to investigate the contamination. They trace the source of the disease to a nearby cave system leading to a subterranean adventure and nightmare.

Bunn and Strahm deliver an interesting start in Unearth #1. At first, the series feels like an over the top science-focused story. It has the sense of a film like Outbreak mixing tension, mystery, and disease. But, as we learn more, the story pivots to something much more. It begins to turn into a nightmarish horror story that’ll leave you saying “wtf” more than once.

And in that sense, the debut issue is really good. It leaves the reader on their toes not knowing what to expect but with a concept that’s straightforward. We’re not immediately dumped into a mystical world but instead the issue slowly builds as things get weirder. And, we’re left in the end we’re left with something that’s more The Descent than Outbreak.

The art by Baldemar Rivas is interesting. Each character is unique and you get a sense of their personality. The art evolves like the story itself giving us a more confined space as things proceed. I’d like to have seen more of that used as the team is driven further into the cave. A visual confinement to help drag the reader into that aspect a bit more. And, as issues play out, we might see that.

The debut is a good one that sets up more than enough of a mystery to have fans of horror coming back to find out more. It’s an interesting concept so far and there’s many directions to go and like the characters themselves, that leaves the read on their toes.

Story: Cullen Bunn, Kyle Strahm
Art: Baldemar Rivas Letters: Crank!
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Messages from Midgard Finale: The Good and Bad of War of the Realms

Just when you thought you’d seen the last of me, here’s another installment of “Messages from Midgard“. This isn’t a column length analysis of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #46, which was the final “War of the Realms” tie-in to come out although I will mention Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi‘s hilarious and clever work with Doreen Green and the Norse squirrel god of chaos Ratatoskr later. No, I have come to survey the wreckage of “War of the Realms” and sift out what worked and what didn’t as well as the memorable moments and the comics that will gather dust in the quarter/dollar/whatever currency inflates to bin at the comic cons and stores of the future.

Without further ado, here’s “War of the Realms: The Good and the Bad“.


The Good

1. Thor’s Character Arc

The core War of the Realms series was at its finest when Jason Aaron remembers that he and Thor have been on a seven year journey together, and this event is the climax. Sure, the montages of Fire Goblin and Frost Giant destruction, superheroes making inane Tolkien and DnD quips, and Punisher shooting Elves are fun. However, the series clicks when it focuses on Thor feeling guilt for the death of the Valkyries and Loki, going on a berserker rage, returning with one arm, and then making sacrifices to not just become a hero, but the All-Father of Asgard. Tom Taylor does a good job enhancing this main narrative in his Land of the Giants tie-in where Wolverine tells his teammates to let Thor let his berserker rage burn out and kill Giants before he is ready begin the next step of his journey.

Despite the continent and realm spanning tie-ins and some issues in the middle, which feel like trailers for more interesting comics with cool battles, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman craft a robust arc for Thor. They also make a great one for Jane Foster too as she evacuates New York, takes on the role of All-Mother in Freyja’s absence, wields War Thor’s helmet, and finally becomes the new Valkyrie. Superhero comics are all about the illusion of change, but it’s cool to look back and see a damsel-in-distress nurse battle cancer, become the goddess of Thunder, revoke that mantle, and find new ways to be heroic in War of the Realms. Basically, people who started reading comics in the 2010s will only see Jane Foster as a hero thanks to the work of Aaron, Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson.


Image result for russell dauterman war of the realms

2. Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson’s Visuals

All my high-falutin’ words about responsibility, heroic journeys, and mythology aside, at its core, War of the Realms is a no holds barred good guys vs bad guys superhero throwdown except with fantasy baddies instead of the usual costumed villains. And this is all thanks to the art of Russell Dauterman and the colors of Matthew Wilson. Dauterman is like a modern day Art Adams (Who did the covers for War of the Realms) or George Perez and possesses a singular gift for splash pages with multiple characters and making them compositions that tell a story instead of glorified pinups. He excels at both layouts and character designs using the newly omniscient Daredevil as the reader’s POV on the action of the War of the Realms while coming up with cool riffs on characters like Odin’s Iron Man armor, Malekith becoming engorged by the Venom symbiote, or Freyja going full Vanir witch on Malekith and his minions.

Matthew Wilson really is the secret weapon throughout the “War of the Realms” event with his work on the core miniseries as well as issues of Thor and the Daredevil serial in War Scrolls. His colors are the ingredient that put the Frost in Frost Giants, the Fire in Fire Goblins, and the effects he uses in War of the Realms #6 make the storm caused by the four Thors truly cataclysmic. But his work isn’t all chaos and Kirby krackle, and there’s delightful minimalism to the big scenes like the reforging of Mjolnir or Daredevil gazing from above that cause one’s eye to linger on the panel and reread the issues that he has colored and that Russell Dauterman has drawn again.


3. Humor-Driven Tie-Ins

The “War of the Realms” tie-ins aren’t at their best when they’re trying to make serious points about the effects of war, like Dennis Hallum and Kim Jacinto did in War of the Realms Strikeforce: The War Avengers. They do work when they lean into the fun and lore of superhero comics and events. For example, in Superior Spider-Man, Gwenpool comments on the well-worn structure of event comics and how a B-Lister like Doc Ock doesn’t get to strike the final blow against Malekith, and in Skottie Young and Nic Klein’s Deadpool, the titular character fights trolls with the help of Australian stereotypes and the event’s single funny Lord of the Rings joke. There is also a great short story in War Scrolls #2 by Anthony Oliveira and Nick Robles where Loki (in disguise as Kate Bishop) and Wiccan go to drag brunch.

However, the two tie-ins that take the cake in the comedy department and are also fun road stories are The McElroys and Andre Araujo‘s Journey into Mystery and the aforementioned Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Most of the humor in Journey into Mystery comes from character idiosyncrasies, like Miles Morales not knowing what to do in a casino because he’s never left Brooklyn or Death Locket’s obsession with Westerns because those were the only movies her Life Model Decoy “uncle” had programmed. The jokes also come out of the wacky situations that the ensemble cast finds them in from a Skrull trailer park to a literal Western ghost town and a henchman convention.

In Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi send the titular character on a mission from Loki to take out the Frost Giants’ secret base in Canada. On the way, she gets a cute new costume from her mom, sees two Frost Giants make out, reads Robert Frost poetry on her own, and builds an unlikely friendship and alliance with Ratatoskr, a Norse squirrel deity that is tricksy even for Loki. North’s script continues to be joke-dense and full of fun facts about science and the world around us while insightfully showing Squirrel Girl at her conflict-avoiding and problem-solving finest. Her actions even have an effect on the larger event, and Derek Charm’s art continues to be heckin’ cute.


4. Standalone Character Studies

Jason Aaron plays some good 3D chess by using War of the Realms to tell the big, loud story of Malekith’s invasion and Thor finding confidence in himself again and his other titles Thor and Avengers to tell quieter (Sometimes) character studies and hint at big plans after the War. So, we get stories like Loki being visited by his past and future selves while being digested in his father’s stomach, a tale of Gorilla-Man’s day to day role at the Avengers HQ during a crisis situation, and She-Hulk dealing with people’s (and by extension readers’) perceptions of her and how she really wants to be. They provide a fresh outlook on the events of the War of the Realms that isn’t just omniscient narration or Thor’s quest.

Avengers #18-#20 end up pulling double duty by introducing the Squadron Supreme of America as well as fleshing out the aforementioned Gorilla-Man and She-Hulk and setting up future plans for Aaron’s works in the Marvel Universe. The Squadron is a great satire of nationalism with a bit of trolling towards the DC Universe, and Aaron wisely puts them in an ancillary book to not detract from “War of the Realms”. The same goes with Gorilla-Man, who is in cahoots with the imprisoned Dracula meaning that the King of the Damned still has a role to play in this book’s events. And none of this is mentioned in the core War of the Realms mini, who only spends a solitary panel setting up Marvel’s next event “Absolute Carnage” as Venom slithers away from Malekith’s Necrosword. It’s nice to enjoy the ride/event you’re on before thinking about the next one.


The Bad

5. Mediocre Minis

Most Big Two events have three to six issue miniseries to add depth to major supporting characters, give B-list heroes a showcase, or just to make money. Sadly, most of “War of the Realms'” minis were more miss than hit with the exception of Journey into Mystery and the anthology series War Scrolls. I also personally liked the end of War of the Realms: Punisher and its portrayal of Frank Castle as a defender of innocents and unrelenting executioner of criminals even if it didn’t connect to his portrayal in the event possible.

However, the rest of “War of the Realms'” minis were either untapped potential or just plain stinkers. New Agents of Atlas introduced a new team of Pan-Asian superheroes, but became overwhelmed by its ensemble cast and its intriguing character designs didn’t translate well to its interior art. Giant-Man had a madcap concept of Marvel’s size-changing heroes taking out the “source” of the Frost Giants, Ymir. But it went off the rails by its third issue with a villain who was shoehorned in and an artist that was really bad at staging and establishing scenes.

Spider-Man and the League of Realms had a cool concept of Spider-Man leading representatives from the other nine realms into battle, but it constantly changed settings, switched bad guy/threat on the fly, and like New Agents of Atlas, didn’t make me care enough about its ensemble cast. The worst tie-in of all was War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men which had a decent premise of the X-Men defending New York, but shoehorned in awkward connections to Norse mythology, killed off Sunspot for no reason and had no focus even though Sabretooth would have made a great villain. Thankfully, it will probably be all retconned when Jonathan Hickman begins his X-Men run.

If you stick to the core miniseries plus the Thor, Avengers, War Scrolls, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Journey into Mystery tie-ins (I can also vouch for Cullen Bunn’s work on Asgardians of the Galaxy and Venom.), “War of the Realms” is a good time. First and foremost, it works as an event because it’s a culmination of seven years of work that Jason Aaron has done with Thor, Jane Foster, Odin, Freyja, Asgard, and the non-Midgard Realms instead of trying to tie into an MCU movie. In fact, much of the current MCU Thor’s arc seems inspired by the work that Aaron has done throughout his run.

Carnage Ramps Up his Hunt in Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre this July

Cletus Kasady is kicking off his murder spree before Absolute Carnage arrives this August! And the trail of bodies will first pile up in July’s Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre!

For weeks, serial killer Carnage has been hunting former symbiote hosts and killing them. Next in the crosshairs of his inky tendrils is Andi Benton, formerly Mania, who’s back to living in Philadelphia and without any symbiote to save her…

With terror and throat-gripping action, this utterly alien thriller will mark only the beginning of Carnage’s insatiable bloodlust.

Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 is out July 24 from writer Cullen Bunn, art by Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque and Joshua Cassara, colors by Jay David Ramos, and a cover by Declan Shalvey.

Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1

Review: Punk Mambo #3

Punk Mambo wants revenge. Best of luck to anyone standing in her way.

For some reason, I’m sure it’s a coincidence, I’ve been listening to Bad Religion, Black Flag and other punk bands. The raw yet refined nature of their anger mixed with strangely infectious tunes springs to mind as I read this comic. I love bands that you really can’t hum along to, so my definition of an infectious tune will differ. It’s the raw and refined anger of punk music that Cullen Bunn captures so well within these pages.

Punk Mambo’s willingness and comfort doing her own thing when facing down a powerful enemy is a great example of her mentality. Just because people think you should do a thing, doesn’t mean you should. Especially if you don’t give a shit what they think.

This issue shows us the mental toughness of the character as she faces a brutal trial by combat after wandering through a muted effervescent factory floor filled with mystics. It’s a scene the showcases Adam Gorham‘s grasp of visual presentation. His use of two double page spreads one after the other serve as the visual focal point of the comic. That’s bookended by some interesting use of perspective with the panel and grid layouts. That highlights the descent into the supernatural verses. The more structured pages earlier in the comic where the story focuses on more real-world concerns.

Beyond Bunn’s grasp of the character’s nature, and his ability to weaves that into a compelling tale about the structure of voodoo and the mystic arts, we’re treated to an exciting visual masterpiece from Adam Gorham and colorist Jose Villarrubia. It’s the perfect representation of the story in your hands. It’s a gritty, yet odd enticing tale that makes for a brilliant comic book.

Punk Mambo #3 is the middle part of a series that, right at the halfway point has fallen into my Must Read pile with a screaming guitar and some pounding drums. I don’t know what I expected from a Valiant series focused on the publisher’s unconventional Voodoo practitioner. It sure as hell wasn’t a tale that pulled me in so completely.

I’m not normally a fan of magic based stories unless there’s a healthy dose of sword with my sorcery, but there’s something about this character, and this comic, that just has me excited. Punk Mambo has that X factor that so many comics just fall short of, and it is glorious. For a great comic, and a series that may be read through independently of any of her previous appearances. Punk Mambo #3 is easily one of the best comics I’ve read this month – don’t miss this book.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Adam Gorham
Colours: Jose Villarrubia Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.2 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Bone Parish #10

Bone Parish #10

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Colorist: Alex Guimarães
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Artist: Jonas Scharf
Price: $3.99

With the walls closing in and their supporters dwindling, it’ll take everything the Winters family has to make it through the war. It’s no longer about the supply, the ash, or the money. Now, they fight to survive.

Bone Parish #10

Preview: Punk Mambo #3 (of 5)

PUNK MAMBO #3 (of 5)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by ADAM GORHAM
Colors by JOSÉ VILLARRUBIA
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by DAN BRERETON
Cover B by ZU ORZU
Cover C by CRIS DELARA
Pre-Order Edition by ADAM GORHAM
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale JUNE 26th

Uncle Gunnysack: 1, Punk Mambo: 0!

Punk Mambo wants revenge. Best of luck to anyone standing in her way.

Prepare yourself for some mystic mayhem!

PUNK MAMBO #3
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