Hot new series Phantom Road—by Sentient creative team Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Hernández Walta—is burning up the pavement with the first issue already wiped out completely at the distributor level and reorders escalating by the minute. Image Comics is fast-tracing the debut issue back to print this week in order to keep up with the breakneck speed of buzz for this wildly popular new title. This reprint will land on shelves same day as Phantom Road #2—just in timefor customers eager to jump on board for the ride.
In Phantom Road, Dom is a long-haul truck driver attempting to stay ahead of his tragic past. When he stops one night to assist Birdie, who has been in a massive car crash, they pull an artifact from the wreckage that throws their lives into fifth gear. Suddenly, a typical midnight run has become a frantic journey through a surreal world where Dom and Birdie find themselves the quarry of strange and impossible monsters. It’s gritty horror meets high-concept supernatural fantasy.
Phantom Road #1, second printing and Phantom Road #2 will both be available on the same day at comic book shops on Wednesday, April 12:
Phantom Road #1, second printing – Diamond Code FEB238233
Phantom Road #2 Cover A Walta Diamond Code FEB230230
Phantom Road #2 Cover B Dani – Diamond Code FEB230231
Dom is a long-haul truck driver attempting to stay ahead of his tragic past. When he stops one night to assist Birdie, who has been in a massive car crash, they pull an artifact from the wreckage that throws their lives into fifth gear. Suddenly, a typical midnight run has become a frantic journey through a surreal world where Dom and Birdie find themselves the quarry of strange and impossible monsters. Phantom Road #1 kicks off an interesting horror fantasy series that leaves you wanting to find out more.
Written by Jeff Lemire, Phantom Road #1 features a lot of familiar aspects in Lemire’s writing as well as a good mystery to figure out. In the end, it’s two individuals thrown into some weird world by a mysterious object, something that’s been in recent series like The Woods and Beyond the Breach. The latter of the two feeling somewhat similar. But, it’s the deeper focus on characters that makes the debut stand out.
Often, Lemire’s stories have to do with fathers and their children. This one is no different as Lemire puts the emphasis on Dom’s absence from his family and generally horrible treatment and attitude towards them. Take that rough aspect and compare it in how he treats the stranger Birdie and we get a complicated and not so clear cut of a character. It’s that sort of human emotion and turmoil Lemire likes to focus on and where his stories often shine.
Joining Lemire is artist Gabriel H. Walta, who he has worked with before on Sentient. With Jordie Bellaire on color and lettering by Steve Wands, the comic has an interesting look that befits the world being crafted. There’s a certain emptiness to the characters and situations both literal and metaphorical. The latter half of the comic, the emptiness is clear on the road and the word Dom and Birdie are sent to. In the former half, it’s an emptiness of character. All of it is delivered in a rather drab coloring befitting the story.
Phantom Road #1 is a slow start but an interesting one. There’s a lot of questions set up but also a focus on the characters and direct danger that gives the issue a bit of a punch. It’s a good start though the team has done better. Still, Lemire, Walta, Bellaire, and Wands is a creative team that you know you can count on paying off in the end and based on the start, I’d expect that here too.
Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Gabriel H. Walta Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Steve Wands Story: 7.95 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Eisner Award winning creator Jeff Lemire and Eisner Award winning artist Gabriel Hernández Walta reunite after their Sentient success with a bold new series titled, Phantom Road. The grindhouse horror/fantasy mashup will hit shelves in March 2023 from Image Comics.
Phantom Road follows Dom, a long-haul truck driver attempting to stay ahead of his tragic past. When he stops one night to assist Birdie, who has been in a massive car crash, they pull an artifact from the wreckage that throws their lives into fifth gear. Suddenly, a typical midnight run has become a frantic journey through a surreal world where Dom and Birdie find themselves the quarry of strange and impossible monsters.
Mad Max: Fury Road meets The Sandman in this high-octane adventure wrapped in a dark fantasy aesthetic.
Phantom Road #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, March 8.
With a fairly regular series of one-shots and miniseries, it’s a solid time to be a fan of Hellboy. You’re able to pick up an issue and just enjoy the fun. There might be some continuity and history within that hardcore fans will appreciate more, but the line has hit a groove where you can pick and choose what you want to read and not have to know years of history. Hellboy and the BPRD: Old Man Whittier is a solid example of this direction. It’s a one-shot that is a fun, quick read, but has a little more for those who have stuck around.
Written by Mike Mignola, Hellboy and the BPRD: Old Man Whittier ties into a previous release but can be enjoyed on its own. Hellboy and a young woman explore a house that was in her family and has deep ties to… something.
Of course there’s scares and weirdness, much more than the old inherited house aspect lets on. Mignola does a good job of giving us just enough of the history and occult aspect to roll with the story, saving long explanations and solving mysteries. Like Hellboy and his companion Catherine, we just roll with the surprises and crazy that pop up for us to deal with.
The art as always is great. Gabriel Hernández Walta continues the fantastic look we’ve come to expect with Dave Stewarts colors and lettering by Clem Robins. Hellboy and the BPRD: Old Man Whittier continues the style we’ve come to expect that does a great balance of the horror. It’s enough to evoke the genre without falling too far in the gross aspects of it all. The creepiness is there and keeps the atmosphere nice and uneasy.
Hellboy and the BPRD: Old Man Whittier continues what is a reliably entertaining comic line. You can dive in and out of it and it feels like you never left. It’s that comfortable fun comic you can return to and know you’ll feel welcomed to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Story: Mike Mignola Art: Gabriel Hernández Walta Color: Dave Stewart Letterer: Clem Robins Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Dark Horse Direct and Jeff Lemire have partnered up and are delighted to present Mazebook HC (Dark Horse Direct Exclusive)!
This deluxe, limited, and oversized hardcover edition collects issues #1-5 of the bestselling Mazebook series, an ambitious and haunting graphic novel about family, mourning, and reality from New York Times bestselling and Eisner award-winning Black Hammer creator Jeff Lemire. Limited to just 1000 copies, this exclusive edition includes a printed art tip-in signed by Jeff Lemire, a cloth cover with red stitch embroidery, foil stamping, a color ribbon and gilding. This incredible collector’s edition features a sketchbook section with pinups by Andrea Sorrentino, Dustin Nguyen, Dean Ormston, Matt Kindt, and Gabriel Hernández Walta! Elegantly designed by award-winning designer and creative director Tom Muller, the exclusive Mazebook HC retails for $125.00 USD with payment plan options available and is scheduled to begin shipping to pre-order customers between June and July 2022.
Mazebook is the story of a lonely building inspector, still grieving the loss of his puzzle-loving daughter, receives a mysterious phone call. Convinced that this child is contacting him from beyond this world, he sets out on an intense and melancholy adventure to bring his daughter back home.
This summer, acclaimed artist Gabriel Hernández Walta is illustrating Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Old Man Whittier, an all-new terrifying one-shot written by legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. This one-shot marks the very first Hellboy story to be illustrated by Walta, and continues a story that originally began in Mignola’s classic short story Hellboy: The Whittier Legacy.
In Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Old Man Whittier, trouble runs in the family. When Catherine Whittier learns she’s inherited the house she grew up in, she knows better than to return home alone. And who better to escort her than Hellboy? After all, with a house with a history like this, “plot” can mean more than just a family graveyard.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: Old Man Whittier is written by Mignola, illustrated by Walta, and lettered by Clem Robins, with a main cover by Walta and a variant cover by Mignola and the award-winning colorist Dave Stewart. The one-shot will be published by Dark Horse Comics on June 22, 2022.
In Barbalien: Red Planet #2, writers Tate Brombal and Jeff Lemire, artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Aditya Bidikar use the Black Hammer Universe sandbox to show the danger, tension, and yes, joy of being a queer man in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. The first half of the comic is an homage to ball culture as Miguel, the young Latinx gay activist that Barbalien saved last issue, shows Mark Markz (Disguised a closeted, blond gay man named Luke) around an underground gay club until it is raided by the police. The dark, yet welcoming colors from Bellaire create a vibrant space that is interrupted by the jarring reds of the homophobic cops, their night sticks, and slurs. These are Markz’s colleagues on the force, and throughout the comic, he grapples with his different identities and roles in society: Martian, gay man, and police officer and tries to reconcile them while using abilities to be different things to different people.
Barbalien: Red Planet has done an excellent job of showing how difficult life was for my queer elders. Nowadays, I can go on Yelp and find a decent gay bar or queer-friendly space. Coming out was personally difficult, but being queer is something that is mostly tolerated by members of American society unless you’re a piece-of-shit Republican or Trumper. Rainbow capitalism is a thing, cops show up at Pride, well-meaning, yet tone-deaf corporate grocery stores think that “ally” is part of the LGBTQIA spectrum, and Ru Paul is a fracker. There is an assimilationist streak going on in the queer community (i.e. Lesbian couples throwing gender reveal parties.) where folks try to fit in with our late-capitalist, neoliberal, and fuck it, white supremacist kryriarchal society instead of resisting it. They applaud a racially profiling medium town mayor for being the first LGBTQ cabinet member in the administration of a right of center groper and a gender essentialist TERF and amuse themselves by watching annoying, heterosexual late-night TV hosts act out queer male stereotypes before a bloviating audience. (Aka fuck Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, James Corden, and Prom.)
However, Barbalien: Red Planet #2 doesn’t do any of this and centers on the BIPOC who were critical in the struggle for LGBTQ rights and trying to get the U.S. government to acknowledge the AIDS crisis. In Barbalien: Red Planet #2, Brombal, Lemire, and Walta introduce readers to the Black drag queen, Knight Klub, who is drawn, colored, and even lettered in a larger than life manner. She is an inspiration to queer men like Miguel, who spins stories of her being at Stonewall and assaulting a police officer at the White Night Riots. And Knight Klub lives up to the hype in the comic as she reads one of the raid cops and gives Miguel and Luke a chance to run away into the Spiral City night. The tension between direct action and trying to lay low continues towards the end of the book when Miguel’s friend Rafael channels his inner Marsha P. Johnson and throws a brick into a police station where the cops are planning to “shut down homosexual spaces”. He is angry that the police grabbed his partner Devon, who is HIV positive, and was inspired by Miguel hanging up a Pride flag at the courthouse. However, this is also just plain dangerous even with Markz mediating and trying to make none of his new friends are arrested or hurt. Because I live in an ostensibly more tolerant society, I can’t 100% relate to what happens in this comic, but I definitely have decided to not publicly come out as nonbinary because of pushback and constantly dealing with being misgendered. (I’m using he/they pronouns for now, but really prefer they/them.)
These atmosphere of activism and the characterization that Tate Brombal gives to Miguel, Rafael, and Devon are like the velvet to the emotional diamond that is Luke’s coming out story. This is technically his second coming out because Barbalien was exiled from Mars for being gay, sympathetic toward humans, and a peaceful man in a warlike society as shown in his previous stories. Luke is new to being around people like him, being called slurs, and even dancing and definitely comes across like a deer in headlights. However, to Miguel, it looks like he is giving off mixed signals, and Walta does a wonderful job of showing his frustration when Luke shrinks away from a kiss. He is exploring his identity during a volatile time, but there are some peaceful moments like Barbalien hanging out next to a Pride flag in Spiral City’s gay village.
These are the moments to savor between cop raids/attacks, and the most typical superhero/sci-fi part of this comic, which is a basically smartphone-wielding Martian bounty hunter tracking Barbalien down to make him pay for his “crimes” against Mars. The bounty hunter is a fairly straightforward protagonist, but Bombral, Lemire, and Walta draw some ghastly parallels between how he treats human beings and the police treat queer men and don’t pull any punches. They’ll kick down the doors just like the bounty hunter will blast them away with a similar intense color palette from Jordie Bellaire, who does a wonderful job gauging the emotion of each panel from peace to awkwardness and even sadness in a silent sequence where Luke looks at the sleeping Miguel, pictures of him with his partner, and then looks down at his police badge as he tries to reconcile his desire for peace and to do good with his true identity as a gay alien.
Two issues in, and Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Aditya Bidikar’s Barbalien: Red Planet is easily my favorite story set in the Black Hammer universe (Black Hammer ’45 is fantastic too.). It’s the one I’ve been able to personally connect to. It’s a soul-searing character study for Barbalien/Mark Markz/Luke, and how he struggles with his identity and place on Earth/Spiral City while also centering the role of BIPOC in LGBTQ+ activism during the 1980s and telling their stories as well. And it does all of this with a superhero secret identity/shapeshifting twist.
Script: Tate Brombal Story: Jeff Lemire and Tate Brombal Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Aditya Bidikar Story: 9.0 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
A groundbreaking new historical sci-fi series in Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s world of the Eisner Award–winning Black Hammer universe, about identity, survival, and the choices we make. Coming off of his work in The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia, upcoming writer Tate Brombal, with Eisner-winning artist Gabriel Hernández Walta, pens an origin story set during the heights of the HIV-AIDS crisis in Barbalien: Red Planet.
Mark Markz has found a comfortable life on Earth as both a decorated police officer and as the beloved superhero, Barbalien. But when Mark is suddenly thrust onto the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, his role as a cop raises doubts and he must now reckon with his own closeted sexuality. Growing tensions make balancing his disparate identities seem impossible—especially when a Martian enemy from his past hunts him down on Earth to take him home, dead or alive. Heroism, privilege, and complacency are all called into question, as Mark becomes more-and-more embroiled in the activism of the time and with the man leading its charge—the handsome and headstrong Miguel.
The award-winning maxi-series is collected in this softcover edition.
Story: Tom King Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Michael Walsh Color: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Get your copy in comic shops now and bookstores on November 26! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.
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BOOM! Studios has revealed a first look at Strange Skies Over East Berlin #2, the newest issue of an all-new original series from Jeff Loveness and artist Lisandro Estherren, a chilling and intense thriller about an American spy who encounters a terrifying inhuman threat at the heart of the Cold War.
Herring has infiltrated the underground bunker where the mysterious force is being held, but his cover immediately comes under threat with the appearance of his longtime foe, Stasi spycatcher Inspektor Keiner. When the fatal influence of the alien force proves too powerful to contain, the bunker is locked down and the American spy is suddenly trapped in a base full of Russians and Germans who are quickly losing their minds to the strange light. With the double threat of the suspicious spymaster and the alien’s mind-bending force, will Herring survive this deadly trap?
Strange Skies Over East Berlin #2 features main cover art by illustrator Evan Cagle, as well as a variant cover by artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta. It comes to shelves November 6, 2019.