Tag Archives: heavy metal comics

Diamond Becomes the Exclusive Worldwide Distributor of Heavy Metal

Starting April 2017, Diamond Comic Distributors has assumed exclusive worldwide sales and distribution for Heavy Metal Media, LLC in comic shop and book markets for graphic novels, trade paperback, and hardcover book publications. Diamond will continue to distribute Heavy Metal Magazine’s bimonthly issues to comic shop and specialty stores as well.

The Heavy Metal Magazine launched in April 1977 and has since spawned movies and the company has moved into releasing original comic books.

If/Then: Enjoy Powerless? Check Out The Paybacks!

powerlessbigWhen it comes to suggesting comics for individuals to check out, it’s often good to start with what they like in other media like television, movies, books, or video games. Enter If/Then, where we’ll throw out suggestions for you to check out!

Debuting this past Thursday on NBC was the latest television show based in the world of comics, Powerless.

Unlike so many other live action television shows on the air right now, this one takes a comedic take on the world it’s set in. Instead of battles with bad guys, the show focuses on average people trying to work and survive and a particular company who creates safety products.

Comedy and superheroes isn’t a combination you see too often in comics. But, I immediately thought of one series that not only combines the two, but does so in a brilliant way.


Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements, robotic suits, or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like I.O.U.’s. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes like Night Knight and Miss Adventure, here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs. But now the Paybacks have discovered a fate far worse than debt: a murderer is on the loose . . . and it just may be one of their own.

The Paypackspaybacks-1 is by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, and Geoff Shaw and been released in two volumes. The first by Dark Horse, and the second by Heavy Metal, the first volume has been collected in a trade paperback that’s out now for purchase now.

There’s so much I love about both volumes and it’s one of the few comedic superhero comics that I found myself not only laughing while reading, but laughing multiple times each issue. Cates, Rahal, and Shaw brilliantly have created a comic where each character is a joke. Each scene is a joke. Each thing said is a joke. It all comes together in a way that’s entertaining as a superhero comic all on its own or sending up 75+ years of comics and superheroes.

Nothing is sacred here and things are taken to an extreme that you can’t help but laugh at the situations and the characters. Take Blood Pouch, who has lots of pouches, everywhere, even over an eye. Guess who’s the target there? But, what these three creators do that’s great is not just go after easy targets, but the more difficult ones too. Batman, Superman, so many characters are set up for laughs. It’s impressive.

Action, humor, fun, the comic and series has it all. The writing is top notch, the art nails every small detail (and adds so many to each panel, that alone will get you to laugh), The Paybacks is the perfect mashup of superheroes and comedy in comic form.


What would you suggest that I didn’t include? Sound off in the comments below!

 

 

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The Best Comics of 2016 – Brett’s List

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means I’m posting my “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2016. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2016, 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, they’ll hopefully have their own lists). 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 and some I struggled to even come up with one. 2016 was a year that ongoing, maxi-series, and limited floppies seemed to blend more and more and for me as a reader I found myself shifting away from one publisher to another and as a whole enjoying graphic novels and indie comics a hell of a lot more than I have in the past.

What stood out to me? Check out below what made the cut!

Best Super Hero Comic – The Paybacks

the-paybacks-3A new publisher, but still absolutely amazing. The Paybacks by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Geoff Shaw moved from Dark Horse to Heavy Metal for its second volume, but it didn’t lose any steam in doing so continuing to deliver hilarity and upping the action.

The concept of the comic is that there’s a repo crew who have to deal with all the superheroes who can’t pay back the loans they take for all of their fancy gadgets. To pay off their debts those heroes then join the ragtag team.

A send-up of so many familiar characters and lets face it creators too, the comic has more jokes in each panel than some series have their entire run. It’s funny, action packed, and in this volume actually is somewhat timely with news with a focus on a data breach.

My biggest wish in comics for 2017 is someone is smart enough to invest in this series because I know it’ll pay off in the log run. Everyone who I’ve turned on to it falls in love and whole there were some issues with the second volume, it still is the one “superhero” comic I devoured as soon as possible.

Runners Up:

  • COPRA – There’s some arguments to be made that Michel Fiffe‘s indie series about a group of raftag characters should be the top pick, and there was long thought about if it should, it’s that good. Out of all of the series I read this year, this is one that delivered with every single issue. This is a comic that shows that superheroes aren’t the domain of just two companies anymore, especially due to how many issues have been released. I said this exact same thing in 2015 and it applies here.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman – An absolutely brilliant max-series that went from digital to print. Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon delivered a Wonder Woman story that stands out in a year of solid Wonder Woman output. Fun to read. Beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll just get this one volume.
  • The Omega Men – Writer Tom King took this ragtag group of characters and has given us a maxiseries that explores revolution/terrorism in so many ways. This is one to read once collected and the ruminate on. It began in 2015 but wrapped up in 2016.
  • Tomboy – This series published by Action Lab: Danger Zone and by M. Goodwin is a comic that’s not on enough people’s radar. A mix of manga, Japanese horror, western vigilante stories, it’s a strange, creepy, haunting series featuring a teenage girl out for revenge against the people who killed her friend.

 

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – The Sheriff of Babylon

the-sheriff-of-babylon-12-coverI said above that 2016 was the year of Tom King, and guess who wrote this one! Tom King! The Sheriff of Babylon is another max-series that wrapped up, but we’ll get a second volume some time in 2017.

The comic is based on King’s experiences working for the CIA in Iraq taking place in the Green Zone after the recent Iraq war. The comic is brutally honest showing a world where there’s so little right and so much wrong and it all comes together in a muddied brown and gray.

That dirtiness of it all is helped by Mitch Gerads‘ art and the smart use of colors. The detail, every body movement, the framing of the panels, Gerads’ art adds so much to every issue. That’s saying something considering how amazing King’s scripts are!

This is a comic series that shows comics are political and can question the world we currently live.

Runners Ups:

  • Descender- Jeff Lemire has had a hell of year in general in comics and is one of my favorite writers of the year. This series features the stunning art of Dustin Nguyen. The sci-fi series is so hard to describe revolving around an android that looks like a little boy. Every issue is a treat to read, and Nguyen’s art helps with beautiful visuals. Seriously the art alone is a reason to pick up the series. We didn’t get an issue every month, but what we did get was fantastic.
  • The Fix – Two fuck up cops who are corrupt and get mixed up in a drug smuggling scam. The comic is absolutely hilarious. Written by Nick Spencer with art by Steve Lieber the comic is one of the funniest books on the market.
  • The Flintstones – Written by Mark Russell this series is some of the smartest and subtle political and social commentary in any writing going on today. The comic covers everything from religion to consumerism to the 2016 election. And like his writing in Prez no one is safe, the right and the left are equal fodder. Entertaining, smart, and elevating the classic characters to a whole new level.
  • Invisible Republic – A reporter investigates the truth of an uprising on a planet discovering fact from fiction in a series that bounces back and forth between the past and present. Each issue reminds us about the power of journalism and the need for good reporting. Myth can easily be twisted into fact and lies can replace reality. The comic series seems prescient in so many ways.

 

Best Limited Series or One Shot – 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK #1 CoverWe got three issues of this series in 2016 and holy crap do I wish we got more. In those three issues we did get some of the best storytelling in any comics. I’m assuming this is a limited series since it is a “crime caper in five parts” but hopefully we get more after this volume wraps up.

The series involves a bunch of kids that find out one of their dads is possibly a criminal and has some buddies who plan to rob a bank. Their idea is to rob the bank before them.

But, it’s not the heist that’s the drawn it’s the kids themselves. Each one feels so real with so many quirks their personalities jump off the page. Everyone is relatable and each feels like real people we knew growing up. It’s absolutely amazing.

The art by Tyler Boss is top notch and the writing is why Matthew Rosenberg is one of the hottest writers in comics right now.

More please!

Runners Up:

  • Black – This series was a Kickstarter phenomenon and the concept is what if only Black people had superpowers? Political. Daring. In your face. The comic is layered and will leave you debating what it’s trying to say.
  • Love is Love – A charity comic to benefit the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack, this comic is a prime example of what the comic industry can do when profits aren’t at the forefront. Bringing together publishers and hundreds of creators it’s a touching tribute.
  • Refugees Book One – A hell of a find at Small Press Expo, the comic is haunting taking us into the world of refugees as they attempt to find a better life. There’s definite issues with the comic as far as some of the writing, but the message is clear and brutally honest.
  • Superman: American Alien – Featuring a bunch of different artists, this maxi-series by writer Max Landis explored a different time in Superman’s life with a different take on the character. It’s a fun and fantastic read and somehow actually gives us something that feels fresh for a character that’s been around for over 75 years.

 

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book Three

MarchBookThree-CoverThe best thing to be released in 2016 for comics. This is an absolutely amazing finish to the award winning trilogy. The winner of the National Book Award among other things the graphic novel focuses on Congressman John Lewis’ experiences during the Civil Rights movement.

Written by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell this is the crown jewel of comics showing that they’re more than tights and has been adopted by schools to teach about this time in American history.

As I read the graphic novel from cover to cover, I found myself filled with emotions, as Lewis’ life was there in print for those to see and read. The story is a complicated one, but it’s presented in a way that feels honest and open, both good and bad. This is an inside look at one of the most important, and turbulent times in American history from not just someone that was there, but a leader of the movement. And that’s a fascinating part of this third book, is its focus on Lewis’ role as a leader.

This third volume somehow leapfrogs the other two. Whether it’s due to learning or the material within, something about it created an emotional reaction I haven’t felt by any media in quite some time. And most importantly it got me to think about where we as a people and nation have been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Runners Up:

  • The Attack – A man’s wife winds up being a suicide bomber. This story is about his attempt to find out why and discovering he knew so little about the woman he called his wife. A spiral into despair and madness the end will leave you speechless and heartbroken.
  • Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq – By Sarah Glidden this graphic novel is her experiences as she researches potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East, especially refugees. Beautiful to look at, the graphic novel is the second best thing I’ve read this year (behind March).
  • Soviet Daughter – Adapting her great grandmother’s journal Julia Alekseyeva provides an interesting look at someone who lived in Russia from 1910 to emigrating to the US in the 90s. The Revolution, WWII, the Holocaust, it’s all presented as Alekseyeva illustrates what is a diary. Between each chapter, Julia reflects on her own life and her closeness with her great grandmother. It’s an amazing piece examining women finding their place in the world. It’s also a reason you wait until the first of the year for your list, as this came out the last week of the year.
  • Tetris: The Games People PlayBox Brown takes what should be a boring story about the history of the video game Tetris and makes it really interesting! A fun graphic novel published by First Second that makes corporate maneuvering a bad business deals engaging.

 

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics/Small Publishers

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2016 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.

I named Indie Comics “it” in 2013, 2014, and 2015 and nothing changed in 2016. There’s a massive opening for someone to step in and be a mainstream breakout, maybe 2017 will be the year we see it.

 

Best Surprise of the Year – DC Comics

DC_Logo_RGB_0318162016 was a year that had everyone shaking their head when they heard DC was shaking things up again and “rebooting.” Except, their reboot was anything but.

In “Rebirth” the publisher blended the old with the new bringing back legacy characters and also pushing forward some of the newer ones too. They even moved away from grimm and gritty and gave us a bit of hope and fun in it all!

While Batman has always been strong for the company, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more all all returned to greatness with a new positive energy about them that could be felt.

But even better, sales increased and while they’ve leveled off and dropped quite a bit from the initial launch, the publisher is stronger and in a better position than it has been in a long time.

The company continued to expand upon its digital first program, and has begun to look towards expanding its market with its DC Super Hero Girls line.

They also did this as their movie output was mixed and television output strong. Now to get everything to line-up and the DC brand as a whole could be unstoppable.

The dots are all there, now we’ll see if the company has the vision to connect them all.

 

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-existent 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 continue to fall.

 

Publisher of the Year – None of the Above

This one I’ve thought about the most out of all of the categories on the list. I keep going back and forth between Image, BOOM! Studios, Valiant, Action Lab, IDW, First Second, and so many more. For each strength one brings to the table, they also have major weaknesses. Whether it’s a focus on a genre, pigeonholing themselves with adults, failure in digital, a mix of quality of comics, none of them are at least good everywhere. But, the comic industry has really grown in 2016 with no one breaking out as THE publisher to rival the big two. Partially that’s because so many have stood out with some of what they’ve done, but none have stood out for their whole.

Of the big two Marvel has stumbled… a lot. Entire articles can be written in that department, but the company is not the juggernaut its been in quite some time and I’d expect their to be some big shake-ups in 2017.

DC on the other hand came really close to being named for this. They’ve done some amazing stuff in the year with Rebirth being a smash hit. There’s still something slightly off, but out of every publisher, they’ve gotten most improved.

Image has become of the home of amazing indie comics by big name creators, but they generally lack a kids line that gets the next generation of readers and the sales just aren’t their in floppies. BOOM! has had a great mix of comics, but they’re missing that ongoing series that goes on for 30 to 50 issues. Valiant is quality all around and have tried some interesting market tactics, but you have to like superhero comics, Action Lab is a solid up and comer with good consistent releases. IDW has shown its possible to do great licensed comics, while First Second has fantastic graphic novels of all sorts. Aftershock has quality and so has Black Mak Studios.

Out of all of that, where’s the standout above everyone else? They’re all good in their own ways, but each have some flaws, with some of those flaws being pretty big. After a lot of deliberation, I couldn’t decide on one, so I chose none.

Each publisher is close to going huge, it’s just taking someone to connect those dots. Or maybe no one will, and it’ll be up to the individual creators to fill up the gap.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 11/12

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.


Alex

asbm_cv4_dsAll-Star Batman (DC)** I don’t know if it’s because the other Batman centric books have become so intertwined with each other lately that you need to read more than just the one to be able to get the full picture, or that Scott Snyder is a level above the other Batman writers (to be fair to them, Snyder has been writing Batman for a long time – for a good reason), but every time I pick up an issue of All-Star Batman I wonder why I’m still reading the other Bat-books. If you’re a fan of the Batman, you need to be reading this series. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Black #2 (Back Mask) Despite a legitimately fantastic concept,the second issue fails to impress – no matter how much I want it to. Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Brigands #1 (Action Lab) Uh… so I don’t know if this is a one shot or the start to a new series (there’s the word end at the end of the comic which implies a one shot). If it’s a one shot, then honestly you’re better off leaving this on the shelf because the interesting premise peters out pretty quickly into an at best mediocre finale. However, if it’s the start of a series, it’s worth keeping your eye on it because there’s a lot of potential here. Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Pass/Read depending on if there’s an issue #2

Clone Conspiracy #2 (Marvel) The problem with crossover events when you haven’t been reading the build up is that inevitably you’re going to feel a little lost. The first issue of this comic means very little to the events here aside from how Spider-Man ended up where he starts out in #2; you will feel a bit lost if you haven’t been reading at least one Spider-book before starting this. But hey, Scarlet Spider’s back, so that’s always a plus for me. Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read.

Namesake #1 (Boom! Studios) There’s something about this first issue that encourages a second read through, and once you’ve done that then you’ll find the comic opens itself up the-paybacks-4to you that much more. A solid first issue – keep your eye out for this. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

The Paybacks #4 (Heavy Metal) Holy. Shit. Absolutely amazing. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Red Hood And The Outlaws #4 (DC) This is a sleeper hit for me. I never think of how much I’ve been enjoying the comic until I start reading it; seeing Red Hood inhabit the grey area of an anti-hero’s role has been fantastic, just as his struggle to find which side of the line he falls on. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Revolution #4 (IDW) Shit is finally hitting the fan, and it’s a gloriously chaotic comic that demands at least a second reading just to understand the flow of the conflict. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Solo #2 (Marvel) If you like your comics to a like a popcorn action movie, then you’re going to like this- but if you don’t then this may not be your cup of tea (and no, you don’t need to read issue #1). Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Joe

Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel) – After such a downer of an event (so far) with Civil War II, and my doubt that it gets fun or cheery anytime soon, I am looking forward to more fun books like Champions. I would say this book for the most part fits into that category as well. That’s not to say there isn’t a dark and sad moment or two, but for the most part we get to see a super genius child get into super hero armor and have some fun. She is overwhelmed, and trying to figure out how to live in the giant legacy of Tony Stark, but it felt fun and authentic to me. I like Riri as a character so far, and I enjoy how they play with invincible_iron_man__1the social awkwardness of someone so smart that it is hard for her to speak with normal everyday people. The ending has a nice tie-in to the Infamous Iron Man book a little, and I want to see where this goes. I am dying for her to meet Doom, and we all know that is coming eventually. Bendis is at his best on solo titles, and I hope this will be another hit. The art by Stefano Caselli was also very well done. Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 (Marvel) – This was a fun read and is perfect for a miniseries. It is obvious the series is taking a jab at the controversial story in Spidey’s past where he and Mary Jane are no longer married in the Marvel universe. In this short series, we take a look at what could have been and also give the couple a child, Annie. Then we get to see all three of them with powers fighting crime together. I enjoyed the art by Ryan Stegman, and the design of Mary Jane’s and Annie’s costumes. There was some fun and cute moments between Peter, MJ, and Annie. Overall this was a solid book. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Doom Patrol #3 (Young Animal) – I wasn’t sure how I felt about the first Doom Patrol issue, although I did love something about it. I had a feeling it was going somewhere, and whether it was the amazing art by Nick Derington, or the hints at bigger things inside this weird book by Gerard Way, I decided I wanted to keep reading it. I did just that with the second issue, and I liked the book even more. The introduction of the other characters made this weird book already weirder, but still better. I really enjoy how deep this book gets with its own ridiculousness, and this issue goes even further down that path. I highly recommend this book, and am excited to read it every month. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

casanovaacedia_07-1Patrick

Casanova #7 (Image) – Ever have one of those days where stuff is happening that’s supposed to be superdramatic, but you’re so far beyond caring? I think the danger of having a story that circles around the idea of Acedia, the Deadly Sin of sloth, is that at least one reader just gets beyond caring about your characters. In this issue, there are revelations, sudden screeches to a halt, and explosions – all carried out with brilliant style by Fraction and Moon – but missing dramatic depth. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: keep reading if you’ve come this far (also, continue to drool over Fabio Moon’s delicious artwork).

Ryan C

Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel)** – Another ho-hum intro to Brian Michael Bendis’ two “new” Iron “Men,” Riri Williams seems like an interesting enough character, but not because of anything that happens in this uninspired half-slugfest/half-slow-burn-origin story. Stefano Caselli’s art is serviceable but generic, and that sums up the script fairly succinctly, as well. Overall: 3. Recommendation: Pass.

Doom Patrol #3 (DC/Young Animal)** – Gerard Way and Nick Derington continue their surreal re-introduction of “The World’s Strangest Super-Heroes,” this time going a bit heavy on the info-dumping and explicit references to the Grant Morrison/Richard Case years, but at least managing to do so in a highly original, downright “gonzo” manner. This issue will probably prove to be a bit alienating to anyone who isn’t familiar with ’90s-era dpa_cv3_open_order_varDP, but what the hell? I still enjoyed the heck out of it, warts and all. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Read.

Glitterbomb #3 (Image)** – After taking a step back and catching a breath with their second issue, Jim Zub and Djibril Morissette-Phan put their foot firmly back on the gas this time out as our “heroine” (and the creature inside her) take delicious revenge on a William Shatner stand-in who’s clearly got it coming, and set the stage for how she’s going to climb back to the top of the Hollywood ladder. Deliciously creepy shit here, folks. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy.

Black #2 (Black Mask)** – I still WANT to like this comic more than I ACTUALLY do, and odds are that’s going to be a short-lived problem since I’m only prepared to give this maybe one more issue. Jamal Igle’s art is more than competent (although he’s got plenty of help this time out with tones and inks and unspecified ‘art assists’ — and all these contributors are barely credited), but Kwanza Osajyefo’s script, while making some crucial steps forward plot-wise, is filled with almost comically hackneyed dialogue, and “designer” Tim Smith 3 contributes nothing that I can see to warrant co-ownership of the book. The workers are carrying all the weight here while the top dogs hold the copyright and stand to reap all the rewards if this thing hits the big-time. Exploitative capitalism at its finest, disguised as a “revolutionary” comic? That’s a con Trump himself would be proud of. Overall: 2. Recommendation: Pass.

Shean

Black Panther: World of Wakanda#1 (Marvel):Black Panther’s Dora Milaje , at first glance seems to be a super version of the Secret Service but thanks to Coates recent run , the world is getting a more intimate view of their inner workings. Now Roxanne Gay and Afua black_panther__world_of_wakandaRichardson are giving readers a ground floor tour of what it takes to be a sacred guard. In what starts out as a scene from Full Metal Jacket becomes a complex episode of Quantico , just with more story development. By issue’s end, there is a few internal rivalry, a budding romance and a war with Namor. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Violent Love#1 (Image): When it comes to world of crime, the many famous legends that permeates the public consciousness, there is none more infamous and romantic than Bonnie and Clyde. What never really gets discussed is their origins , how they starlit doing these heinous acts . In this story, Barbiere attempts to tell a story similar, with the introduction of Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley. We follow these star crossed lovers as they create mayhem everywhere they go. By issue’s end, you will either be repulsed by them or be rooting for them. Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

 


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 (**).

Wednesday Comic Rally: The Paybacks #4

the-paybaks-4Too often comic fans rally around a series far too late, when it’s already been cancelled or announced its ending. We’ve recently seen that with the cancellation of Nighthawk and Mockingbird, two solid series that featured excellent writing, but lacked the buzz to keep them going.

Introducing “Wednesday Comic Rally” (the eventual name to still be determined) where I hope to spotlight a series, comic, graphic novel, etc., that you should go check out when you head to the shop each week. The idea is to focus on small press and indie comics as well as low selling mainstream comics and make the case as to why you should get it (and actually provide options as to where you can purchase the comic if you don’t have a local shop or prefer digital).

We saw how easily we can boost a series like Mockingbird so lets show our power as comic fans and speak with our dollars to keep quality comics around by showing our support.

This week’s rally? The Paybacks #4 by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Geoff Shaw, and published by Heavy Metal.

Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs. Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs!

The second volume has to do with a database of superhero identities being leaked and the Paybacks being blamed for it. Yes, this is Wikileaks meets superheroes and it’s funny as all hell.

There’s been two volumes of The Paybacks with the first being published by Dark Horse and second by Heavy Metal and judging by its sales numbers that’s estimated, a lot of you missed the series. The basic gist is explained above taking a comedic send-up to the superhero genre lampooning so many characters it’s almost too many to name (there’s an entire character based around pouches!). It’s funny. It’s really funny. But more importantly, the comic is fun. If you grew up reading comics in the 90s, it especially nails the ridiculous nature of some of the characters that ruled the stands during that time and in general many of the comic icons today.

Without the comedic tone of the series, it’d likely fall flat being too serious and it wouldn’t work, not standing out at all from the bunch. The humor is what really makes the comic, taking what otherwise would be just another action superhero comic and moving it to a whole other level of entertainment. From the gags in the action and the characters to every small detail in the background each issue packs laughs within.

Everyone that I’ve had read an issue has been converted and hopped on board. It’s a style of comic that you just don’t see a lot of on the shelves which makes it stand out even more and really feels like a unique experience. This fourth issue looks to wrap things up, but you can catch up digitally and find out why this is a series I continuously gush about. You won’t be disappointed.

You can purchase The Paybacks #4 at your local shop, on comiXology, volume 1 through Amazon, or some single issues through Things From Another World.

Review: The Paybacks #3

the-paybacks-3Alright, so The Paybacks is quite simply a pleasure to read. It’s a brilliant cross between a realistic take on how superheroes fund their adventures (by taking out astronomical loans thy can never hope to pay back), and the injuries they take, and the most over the top style of comics storytelling you’re likely to see.

But it’s not really over the top… it’s hard to explain, because it’s so easy to just read it and understand. So go read the series. It’s fantastic.

I’m sure if you’ve clicked the link to read the review, and you’ve come this far you’re probably thinking that I’ve just made no sense whatsoever, right? It’s okay, because I’ve just reread what I wrote and, well, I agree with you.

I’m making no sense. But a much as I’m babbling, as much sense as I’m not making, is how good the comic is.

There are so many titles where the love of the creators for their work shines through the pages in your hands, where you can feel the passion they have for the comic they’re publishing. The thing is, The Paybacks has something that you don’t find in many places; a well-executed idea that’s both hilariously poignant and bat-shit crazy. This is a series that’s typically one of the highlights of my reading week – just look at the biography page for a reason why (there’s a dead character who is still getting updated bio info. It’s a small touch that makes me laugh every. Single. Time).

Look, I can lie to you and say that I’d rather pluck my nose hairs and wax my beard then read another issue of this comic. I can say that I’d rather eat nothing but raw spaghetti for a month than have to write another review of this, but the thing is… yeah, I already told you that’s a lie. I’ve lost my train of thought in much the same way the former superheroes lost their money.

At the end of the day, I love this comic. I love the series (even the email that was sent to us with the review copy was brilliant), and I think that if you’re not reading it then you’re missing out on one of the gems of 2016.

Also, look at me for writing a glowing review without actually talking about the story content of the comic in an even remotely generic way.

Story: Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal
Art: Geoff Shaw Colours: Dee Cunniffe
Story: 9 Art: 8.75 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Give them your money. Buy this.

Graphic Policy was provided a FREE copy for review.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

the-paybacks-3Wednesdays 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.

Anthony

Top Pick: Wayward #16 (BOOM! Studios)Wayward returns and looks to switch gears from its setting in Japan back to Rori’s homeland: Ireland. The team of Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, Tamra Bonvillain and Marshall Dillon (and some always excellent back material) created a very energetic and emotional ride in Japan with a battle between the traditional yokai and the new school of people with powers. It will be exciting to see what will be incorporated in Rori and her friend’s world with Ireland and its rich folk tale history being brought to life.

Island #11 (Image Comics) –  Island has been a consistent treat from its inception, featuring a wide variety of creator stories that are a pleasure for the eyes and mind. This issue features Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward (whose story reaches its conclusion) and pieces from Grim Wilkins and Robin Bougie.

Saga #38 (Image Comics) –  It’s Saga. Nuff said.

Generation Zero #2 (Valiant) – Valiant is one of those companies whose titles are always worthy of taking a stab with each and every first issue. The first issue of Generation Zero focused on Keisha Sherman and her personal investment in revealing the shady things going on in her hometown. The members of the former Project Rising Spirit team called Generation Zero were more in the background during the first issue but look to thrust themselves forward as they meet with Keisha for the first time.

Kim and Kim #3 (Black Mask Studios) – It’s great having a title that truly cares about fleshing out its characters first and foremost, while the plot progresses alongside. This isn’t to say that the story and world of Kim and Kim isn’t lively or vibrant, it embodies just that, but the true heart belongs between the two titular characters weaving in and out of this sci-fi adventure romp.

 

Alex

Top Pick: The Paybacks #3 (Heavy Metal Comics) – There have been so many great comics released this year, and many of them from publishers other than Marvel and DC. This is one of them. What started out as a brilliant take on super-heroic debt has taken on a new life as the second series kicked off with a question of how far would you go to clear said debt, wrapped up in a brutally funny cast of characters. If you can find this, buy it.

Action Comics #964 (DC Comics) – Superman takes Clark Kent to his fortress of solitude (kinda). If that sounds interesting to you, then you need to read this.

Conan The Slayer #3 (Dark Horse) – When you think of Conan, violence is often not far away. And this comic has an almost poetic brutality to the fight scenes, which is awesome, but it’s Cullen Bunn’s narration style the has a throwback feel to the pulp novels where Conan first appeared that really pulls me in. I can’t get enough of this series.

Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #5 (DC Comics) – This is an honest surprise for me. I never used to like Green Lantern, but this series (as well as Green Lanterns) have been one of the highlights post Rebirth for me. I can’t wait for this one.

X-O Manowar #50  (Valiant) – Well, here we are. The final chapter in the current run of X-O Manowar is promising to be epic, and part of that is the large page count. The breakneck pace of the story so far has been exhilarating, and that nothing has been going well for X-O and his allies when facing the godlike Torment leads me to believe that we’re going to see a sacrifice of some kind this issue.

 

Javier

Top Pick: The X-Files: Origins #2 (IDW Publishing) – I’m re-living reading those old Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysteries from back in the day, with Jody Houser’s and Matthew Dow Smith’s take on a juvenile Scully and Mulder.

Deadly Class #22 (Image Comics) – Rick Remender starts a new arc with the survivors from the last installment’s bloodbath, and a new incoming freshman class. Plus, I still don’t believe Marcus is really dead.

The Paybacks (Vol. 2) #3 (Heavy Metal Comics) – Superheroes in debt, willing to do anything to pay off their outstanding balances. I know I’d kill to get rid of some of my old student loan debt.

Lake of Fire #2 (Image Comics) – Crusaders and Heretics versus Aliens? I liked Cowboys versus Aliens, so why not. I’m in for now.

Bloodshot Reborn #17 (Valiant) – One of my favorite series from Valiant.  It is consistently well written by Jeff Lemire, and the art is top notch (with Mico Suayan for this issue).

 

Jason

Star Trek: Waypoint #1 (IDW Publishing) – Even as a kid I was shrewd about my money and quickly learnt that a lot of my passions and obsessions had some truly awful and lazy spin-offs, Star Trek being one of the worst offending money grabbing staples of my youth, and one I happily ignored for a decade or two. I’m a fan, but money will always trump slavish in my devotion to any ‘franchise’, even now. Except somewhere in between then and now licensed properties quietly became, well, kinda awesome. Titans’s unstoppable Doctor Who or BOOM!’s magic touch on the seemingly inexhaustible Adventure Time comics get great ideas and writers and the readers will follow. Even so, I’ve been skeptical of my childhood repeat offender until now.

Waypoint is a brand new series from IDW offering up anthology stories from all across the breadth and time of the thankfully lens flare free Prime Universe for all us bitter old school nerds. This time around with two stories,  a classic original series story by Sandra Lanz and one that finally got me buying Star Trek comics again, “Puzzles”. Written by Donny Cates and Mack Chater set sometime after the Next Generation, with a mysterious ship appearing, with Data and Geordie sent out to investigate. Not giving too much away, it gives a heady sci-fi spin on Data and Geordie’s unusual but lasting friendship and the preview pages made me smile with where Cates and Chater have taken it and how much they understand the unusual pairing.

Jonesy Vol. 1 (BOOM! Studios) – Collecting all six issues of the colourful, charming and captivating miniseries from writer Sam Humpries and artist Caitlin Rose Boyle. Self described “cool dork” Jonesy, introduces readers to her high school life, spending her time making zines and most importantly, using her super secret power to make people fall in love. A modern day Cupid with converse, plaid and attitude.

Like Allison or Tynion, it’s hard to believe this isn’t written by teenagers. Told from our anarchic math makers point of view the dialogue is snappy and genuine, coupling perfectly with  the delightfully brash and vivid cartoon style of Boyle, it would appeal to fans of slice of life fantasy-realism like Scott Pilgrim or Giant Days.

 

Shay

Top Pick: Black Panther Epic Collection TP Panther’s Rage (Marvel) – Marvel has always been a master of political undertones. They’ve brought light to injustices in a palatable way to bring the masses together. This is a throwback TP where we get some of the awesome that is Black Panther and why he’s so important, not just to the MCU but, to the world. This collections shows the Panther taking care of business in Wakanda, sharing some of their culture. It expands horizons which is great for promoting global awareness in a time , much like now, where people don’t think about their neighbor , let alone people far away . This TP follows him from his culture to the south in the US where he fights the Klan and Soul Strangler. Considering how race relations are in this country , and across the world, this is a great time to read this and remind ourselves what’s at stake, what used to be, and what could be again. Understanding leads to compassion and compassion leads to the end of hate.

Batgirl #3 (DC Comics) – Part 3 of the Beyond Burnside arc is getting popcorn at the movies good. There’s a second villain, the mysterious “the Student” mark and a trip to Korea keeping BATGIRL hella busy. Should be a fun read.

Suicide Squad #3 (DC Comics) – Has got the people at Bele Reve losing their collective minds thanks to more dark & mysterious forces. Meaning the Suicide Squad doesn’t get to enjoy R & R. In the midst of the chaos the always crazily awesome Harley manages to stay “sane”. Plus more Katana backstory. The Black Vault story arc is interesting and getting better by the issue.

The X-Files: Origins #2 (IDW Publishing) – I need to know what was in the woods that Mulder ran off into to check on his friends after the men in black appeared. I also need to know how Scully’s Sunday school teacher ended up dead and if her father is in for a similar fate. Issue 2 promises to show us the first mystery these two solve, even if it’s not the two of them solving it together.

Kim and Kim #3 (Black Mask Studios) – I’ve been waiting to see what happened next in this awesome LGBT positive space cowboy action comic. I also want to see if the hunt for Lady Babylon leads to some more answers & a stop to the space slave trade.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Teen Titans: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – A new Teen Titans team headed up by Damian sounds fun and exciting to me. The first issue is really fun and generally what I expected. The clash of personalities is something that should be entertaining and add on top that this sets the team off on the wrong foot makes it even more entertaining.

Captain Canuck #9 (Chapterhouse Comics) – Captain Canuck always puts a smile on my face. It’s a throwback in many ways before comics became grim and gritty and that’s pretty awesome.

M.A.S.K.: Revolution #1 (IDW Publishing) – This is straight up nostalgia for me. I loved these toys growing up and to see them return in comics has me super excited.

The Paybacks #3 (Heavy Metal Comics) – The funniest and most entertaining comic on the shelves right now. Each issue has been amazing.

Tomboy #8 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – Maybe the best comic you’re not reading? A brutal vigilante story starring a teenage girl.

Review: The Paybacks #2

The-Paybacks-v2-2It’s unlikely you’ve read a series quite like this before. The elevator pitch for The Paybacks would probably be something like “what happens when superheroes run out of money, and who lent it to them in the first place?” If that sounds half way toward interesting, then you’d be about half right.

You could be excused for thinking that the characters within the comic, those failed superheros who are massively in debt, are cheap parodies of existing, and more popular, comic book superheroes… although, if you did think that, you’d be absolutely right;  Night Knight is an English rip off of Batman who’s afraid of the dark, and doesn’t quite measure up to his DC counterpart. Bloodpouch is a brilliant send up of all things from the 90’s that have been done better elsewhere. But the thing is, that’s exactly the point. At least some of these failed heroes failed because they is already somebody better than them doing the
same thing.

Or because excessive pouches faded away as the nineties’ fashion choices fell by the wayside.

The Paybacks #2After the first volume introduced us to the world of The Paybacks and their T.A.R.D.I.S.-like vehicle/headquarters called The Van, the second volume has started off by asking just how far you’re willing to go to wipe away your debts. Marginal spoilers follow. With the most powerful superhero team on the planet, The Command, coming after the eponymous former heroes after a slight misunderstanding, The Paybacks mysterious benefactor Mr. Pierce declared war on The Command. If one of the indebted heroes is able to kill a member of the super team, then their debt will be cleared. It’s a brilliant set up, and one that Donny Cates & Elliot Rahal make abundantly sure that we’re well aware that the sheer number of The Paybacks may not mean much in the long run.

I’m not going to lie; watching the former heroes go broke, and then hit rock bottom as they question whether or not they’re willing to do what’s needed (not whether they can which is another question entirely) is something that I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Look, the thing about The Paybacks is that no matter how much I try, I’m never going to be able to do full justice to just how entertaining the series is. This is a fantastic read, and I love every moment that it’s in my hands.

Story: Donny Cates and Elliot Rahal Art: Geoff Shaw
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Heavy Metal Comics provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Paybacks #2Wednesdays 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.

Alex

Top Pick: The Paybacks #2 (Heavy Metal) – If you read nothing else this week, read The Paybacks. It’s a brilliantly written series that should be on your pull list.

4001 A.D. #4 (Valiant) – Valiant’s summer event comes to a close with this issue, and having already read it, it’s a very satisfying conclusion. Every bit as good as I wanted it to be.

Bloodshot Reborn #16 (Valiant) – This is one of the best-looking comics around right now, and is worth reading just for the art. Fortunately, Jeff Lemire’s Groundhog Days meets Survivor story is violently captivating.

Howard The Duck #10 (Marvel)  – It’s a shame this series is coming to an end, and while I’m not sure when that’ll happen exactly, I’m going to enjoy each issue we get until the series is no more. Howard the Duck has been a brilliant read each month partly because of Chip Zdarsky’s jab at almost everybody, and partly because of the way the comic pokes fun at itself.

Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens #2 (Dark Horse) – A concept that’s as jaw dropping as having peanut butter on a hamburger – and just as delicious. No, don’t eat the comic. Read the comic, eat the peanut butter burger, love both.

 

Jason

Top Pick: Art Ops #11 (Vertigo) – Guest artist Rob Davis pits the Art Ops team against a centuries old monster, from a legendary artist rumoured to have painted deaths very essence into a painting in “The Boy Who Painted Death”.

My interest in Vertigo’s Art Ops waned for a few issues when Mike Allred’s art was restricted to him contributing covers, and this month’s inclusion of Warhol’s Silver Clouds means two of my favourite pop artists in one. This might not be a problem for everyone, but I’m a sucker for Allred’s insane pop art style so the change was slightly jarring at first. Even with Brundage taking over full-time art duties, bringing a much rougher hewn style to the page, Art Ops continues to be inventive both in its storytelling and visuals to bring us a true sleeper hit.

Howard The Duck #10 (Marvel) – The penultimate issue before we have to say goodbye again to the avian detective and Zdarksy’s hilarious run before he heads off to more cosmic affairs with Star Lord later this year. Last issue saw Howard deep in full meta commentary territory, with ratings chaser Mojo addressing his sporadic appearances in the Marvel Universe over the years. Issue ten promises the reveal of the mastermind behind the ducks most recent series of misadventures. A series that’s continued to be both hilarious and subversive, so let’s hope we aren’t waiting as long for another writer to realise Howard’s potential.

All-New Wolverine Annual #1 (Marvel) – In the wake of Logan’s death  readers saw Laura Kinney, formerly X-23 taking on the mantle of Wolverine, seeking out clones of herself and aiming to help them whenever possible. An exciting series from the start, Marvel have cemented her as the new Wolverine by embedding her deep into the post Secret Wars landscape with Laura joined by a number of allies this year from Doctor Strange, The Wasp and even Old Man Logan as she unravels the mystery behind her “sisters”. The first Wolverine Annual is no exception, with fan favourite Spider-Gwen swinging in for an all new story with the character find of the year, Jonathan: Actual Wolverine.

 

Anthony

Tokyo Ghost #10 (Image Comics) – It’s bittersweet that this will be the final issue of Tokyo Ghost for the foreseeable future. This series has done a great job at tackling and questioning a lot of present day problems, even with the futuristic setting. The creative team have been showing us a very terrifying and perhaps more overtly technologically hypnotized society that still parallels in many ways to the present day. The drama is greatly balanced with comedic moments and a truly emotional relationship between Debbie and Led.

Saga #37 (Image Comics)Saga is back! The gorgeous wraparound cover by Fiona Staples just elevates the hype for this arc in what sounds like will be an even more escalated situation after Hazel was finally reunited with her parents.

Afterlife with Archie #10 (Archie Comics/Archie Horror) – It’s always a good week when there is a new issue of Afterlife with Archie. Afterlife appeals to both fans and non-fans of Archie with its more dramatic, darker tone that is filled with surprises each and every issue. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been scripting some great character pieces that heighten the relationships between each of the teens and adults of Riverdale unlike ever before. It’s also pretty hard to say no to Francesco Francavilla’s art that is just perfect in the horror setting. This issue looks to focus on the origin story of Josie and Pussycats.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Secret Coders Vol. 2: Paths & Portals (First Second) – Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes’ graphic novel series that teaches people to code while being entertained returns! The second volume is just as fantastic as the first, upping the mystery but more importantly it also includes multiple instances where it teaches you to code. Yes, even my 30 something self learned some skills! A perfect blend of entertainment and education.

Rough Riders #5 (Aftershock Comics) – The series that blends history and weirdness continues in its fun ways and I can’t wait. The comic is really entertaining and this issue has Teddy Roosevelt fighting the infamous Battle of San Juan Hill, but there’s also Thomas Edison, Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini, and Jack Johnson, all on their secret mission.

The Paybacks #2 (Heavy Metal Comics) – One of my favorite comics of the last year. The first volume was hillarious and this second volume looks to be just as good. This is superhero comedy at its best.

Skip to the End #1 (Heavy Metal Comics) – Jonny Wells desperately wants to relive his grunge rock royalty past. As bassist of Samsara, he craved the Rock’n’Roll lifestyle that eventually claimed the life of the band’s visionary lead singer and his best friend. Now a VH1 cautionary tale of drug addiction and self-loathing, Wells trades his smack for an old battered guitar, and discovers that returning to his former glory days are only a few chords away. Literally.

Tomboy #7 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – This series is under the radar unfortunately and people need to find out about it! It’s a mix of superhero/manga/Japanese horror with a teenage girl at the center of it all as a vigilante out for revenge to kill the people who killed her friend.

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