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Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2020

2020 definitely felt like a year where I embraced comics in all their different formats and genres from the convenient, satisfying graphic novella to the series of loosely connected and curated one shots and even the door stopper of an omnibus/hardcover or that charming webcomic that comes out one or twice a week on Instagram. This was partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down comics’ traditional direct market for a bit so I started reviewing webcomics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels and nonfiction even after this supply chain re-opened. I also co-hosted and edited two seasons of a podcast about indie comics where we basically read either a trade every week for discussion, and that definitely meant spending more time with that format. However, floppy fans should still be happy because I do have a traditional ongoing series on my list as well as some minis.

Without further ado, here are my favorite comics of 2020.

Marvels Snapshots: X-Men #1 – But Why Tho? A Geek Community

10. Marvels Snapshots (Marvel)

Curated by original Marvels writer Kurt Busiek and with cover art by original Marvels artist Alex Ross, Marvels Snapshots collects seven perspectives on on the “major” events of the Marvel Universe from the perspectives of ordinary people from The Golden Age of the 1940s to 2006’s Civil War. It’s cool to get a more character-driven and human POV on the ol’ corporate IP toy box from Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway exploring Namor the Submariner’s PTSD to Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Benjamin Dewey showing the real reason behind Johnny Storm’s airhead celebrity act. There’s also Mark Russell and Ramon Perez’s take on the classic Captain America “Madbomb” storyline, Barbara Kesel’s and Staz Johnson’s sweet, Bronze Age-era romance between two first responders as the Avengers battle a threat against the city, and Saladin Ahmed and Ryan Kelly add nuance to the superhuman Civil War by showing how the Registration Act affects a Cape-Killer agent as well as a young elemental protector of Toledo, Ohio, who just wants to help his community and do things like purify water. However, the main reason Marvels Snapshots made my “favorite” list was Jay Edidin and Tom Reilly‘s character-defining work showing the pre-X-Men life of Cyclops as he struggles with orphan life, is inspired by heroes like Reed Richards, and lays the groundwork for the strategist, leader, and even revolutionary that appears in later comics.

9. Fangs (Tapas)

Fangs is cartoonist Sarah Andersen’s entry into the Gothic romance genre and was a light, funny, and occasionally sexy series that got me through a difficult year. Simply put, it follows the relationship of a vampire named Elsie and a werewolf named Jimmy, both how they met and their life together. Andersen plays with vampire and werewolf fiction tropes and sets up humorous situations like a date night featuring a bloody rare steak and a glass of blood instead of wine, Jimmy having an unspoken animosity against mail carriers, and just generally working around things like lycanthropy every 28 days and an aversion to sunlight. As well as being hilarious and cute, Fangs shows Sarah Andersen leveling up as an artist as she works with deep blacks, different eye shapes and textures, and more detailed backgrounds to match the tone of her story while not skimping on the relatable content that made Sarah’s Scribbles an online phenomenon.

8. Heavy #1-3 (Vault)

I really got into Vault Comics this year. (I retroactively make These Savage Shores my favorite comic of 2019.) As far as prose, I mainly read SF, and Vault nicely fills that niche in the comics landscape and features talented, idiosyncratic creative teams. Heavy is no exception as Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter tell the story of Bill, who was gunned down by some mobsters, and now is separated from his wife in a place called “The Wait” where he has to set right enough multiversal wrongs via violence to be reunited with her in Heaven. This series is a glorious grab bag of hyperviolence, psychological examinations of toxic masculinity, and moral philosophy. Heavy also has a filthy and non-heteronormative sense of humor. Donovan and Peter bring a high level of chaotic energy to the book’s visuals and are game for both tenderhearted flashbacks as well as brawls with literal cum monsters. In addition to all this, Bemis and Donovan aren’t afraid to play with and deconstruct their series’ premise, which is what makes Heavy my ongoing monthly comic.

Amazon.com: Maids eBook: Skelly, Katie, Skelly, Katie: Kindle Store

7. Maids (Fantagraphics)

Writer/artist Katie Skelly puts her own spin on the true crime genre in Maids, a highly stylized account of Christine and Lea Papin murdering their employers in France during the 1930s. Skelly’s linework and eye popping colors expertly convey the trauma and isolation that the Papins go through as they are at the beck and call of the family they work almost 24/7. Flashbacks add depth and context to Christine and Lea’s characters and provide fuel to the fire of the class warfare that they end up engaging in. Skelly’s simple, yet iconic approach character design really allowed me to connect with the Papins and empathize with them during the build-up from a new job to murder and mayhem. Maids is truly a showcase for a gifted cartoonist and not just a summary of historical events.

6. Grind Like A Girl (Gumroad/Instagram)

In her webcomic Grind Like A Girl, cartoonist Veronica Casson tells the story of growing up trans in 1990s New Jersey. The memoir recently came to a beautiful conclusion with Casson showing her first forays into New York, meeting other trans women, and finding a sense of community with them that was almost the polar opposite of her experiences in high school. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the evolution of Veronica Casson’s art style during different periods of her life from an almost Peanuts vibe for her childhood to using more flowing lines, bright colors, and ambitious panel layouts as an older teen and finally an adult. She also does a good job using the Instagram platform to give readers a true “guided view” experience and point out certain details before putting it all together in a single page so one can appreciate the comic at both a macro/micro levels. All in all, Grind Like A Girl is a personal and stylish coming of age memoir from Veronica Casson, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

5. Papaya Salad (Dark Horse)

Thai/Italian cartoonist Elisa Macellari tells an unconventional World War II story in Papaya Salad, a recently translated history comic about her great uncle Sompong, who just wanted to see the world. However, he ended up serving with the Thai diplomatic corps in Italy, Germany, and Austria during World War II. Macellari uses a recipe for her great uncle’s favorite dish, papaya salad, to structure the comic, and her work has a warm, dreamlike quality to go with the reality of the places that Sampong visits and works at. Also, it’s very refreshing to get a non-American or British perspective on this time in history as Sampong grapples with the shifting status of Thailand during the war as well as the racism of American soldiers, who celebrate the atomic bomb and lump him and his colleagues with the Japanese officers, and are not shown in a very positive light. However, deep down, Papaya Salad is a love story filled with small human moments that make life worth living, like appetizing meals, jokes during dark times, and faith in something beyond ourselves. It’s a real showcase of the comics medium’s ability to tell stories from a unique point of view.

4. Pulp (Image)

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (with colorist Jacob Phillips) are two creators whose work has graced my “favorite comics” list many times. And this time they really outdid themselves with the graphic novella Pulp about the final days of Max Winters, a gunslinger-turned-Western dime novelist. It’s a character study peppered with flashbacks as Phillips and Phillips use changes in body posture and color palette to show Max getting older while his passion for resisting those who would exploit others is still intact. Basically, he can shoot and rob fascists just like he shot and robbed cattle barons back in the day. Brubaker and Phillips understand that genre fiction doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is informed by the historical context around it, which is what makes Pulp such a compelling read. If you like your explorations of the banality of evil and creeping specter of fascism with heists, gun battles, and plenty of introspection, then this is the comic for you.

3. My Riot (Oni Press)

Music is my next favorite interest after comics so My Riot was an easy pick for my favorite comics list. The book is a coming of age story filtered through 1990s riot girl music from writer Rick Spears and artist Emmett Helen. It follows the life of Valerie, who goes from doing ballet and living a fairly conservative suburban life to being the frontwoman and songwriter for a cult riot girl band. Much of this transformation happens through Helen’s art and colors as his palette comes to life just as Valerie does when she successfully calls out some audience members/her boyfriend for being sexist and patronizing. The comic itself also takes on a much more DIY quality with its layouts and storytelling design as well as how the characters look and act. My Riot is about the power of music to find one’s identify and true self and build a community like The Proper Ladies do throughout the book. Valerie’s arc is definitely empowering and relatable for any queer kid, who was forced to conform to way of life and thinking that wasn’t their own.

2. Getting It Together #1-3 (Image)

I’ll let you in on a little secret: slice of life is my all-time favorite comic book genre. So, I was overjoyed when writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, artist Jenny D. Fine, and colorist Mx. Struble announced that they were doing a monthly slice of life comic about a brother, sister, and their best friend/ex-boyfriend (respectively) set in San Francisco that also touched on the gay and indie music scene. And Getting It Together definitely has lifted up to my pre-release hype as Grace and Spahi have fleshed out a complex web of relationships and drama with gorgeous and occasionally hilarious art by Fine and Struble. There are gay and bisexual characters all over the book with different personalities and approaches to life, dating, and relationships, which is refreshing too. Grace, Spahi, and Fine also take some time away from the drama to let us know about the ensemble cast’s passions and struggles like indie musician Lauren’s lifelong love for songwriting even if her band has a joke name (Nipslip), or her ex-boyfriend Sam’s issues with mental health. I would definitely love to spend more than four issues with these folks.

1. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott (Avery Hill)

My favorite comic of 2020 was The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott , a debut graphic novel by cartoonist Zoe Thorogood. The premise of the comic is that Billie is an artist who is going blind in two weeks, and she must come up with some paintings for her debut gallery show during that time period. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott boasts an adorably idiosyncratic cast of characters that Thorogood lovingly brings to life with warm visuals and naturalistic dialogue as Billie goes from making art alone in her room to making connections with the people around her, especially Rachel, a passionate folk punk musician. The book also acts as a powerful advocate for the inspirational quality of art and the act of creation. Zoe Thorogood even creates “art within the art” and concludes the story with the different portraits that Billie painted throughout her travels. The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott was the hopeful comic that I needed in a dark year and one I will cherish for quite some time as I ooh and aah over Thorogood’s skill with everything from drawing different hair styles to crafting horrific dream sequences featuring eyeballs.

Mini Reviews and Recommendations For The Week Ending 10/31

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1

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. Given the lack of new comics, expect this weekly update to begin featuring comics that we think you’ll enjoy while you can’t get anything new to read – only new to you.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews and Recommendations.


Logan

Heavy #2 (Vault Comics) – Max Bemis, Eryk Donovan, and Cris Peter’s Heavy #2 is violent, disgusting, and honestly, pretty fucking funny. It’s also filled with penises. This issue introduces the unlikely partnership of our protagonist, Bill, and Slim, the psychopathic assassin that was responsible for his and his girlfriend’s death as they both try to get out of the Big Wait by killing terrible human beings as “Heavies”. Bemis and Donovan continue to spoof toxic masculinity by having Bill and Slim beat the shit out of each other naked with rapidly changing art styles until they calm down and get to business. Whereas Bill tries to at least follow the Geneva Convention on his missions, Slim mows down everything in his path with manic glee, and his supervisors don’t really care. Slim is also pansexual, and it’s nice to have a queer character in a comic that isn’t shoehorned into a “role model” situation and can be a total asshole even if Bemis gives him some funny lines. Finally, what makes Heavy #2 a great comic is that Max Bemis and Eryk Donovan constantly are trying to top themselves in the sex and the violence department (Emphasis on the sex for once), and the third act of this comic is super gross, yet super funny with a decent cliffhanger. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy

X of Swords: Stasis (Marvel) – X of Swords Stasis is the moody middle chapter in this crossover event. Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Pepe Larraz, Mahmud Asrar, and Marte Gracia use this issue to further develop the denizens of Otherworld (Who have been hinted at in various data pages) and give readers a deeper glimpse into the personalities and abilities of the Arakki. (Pogg-Ur-Pogg is my favorite.) Larraz and Asrar do a good job of alternating between close quarters conversations and epic character designs and violent landscapes as some of the pages make Death Metal look like a yacht rock album cover. Of course, I don’t have as much of a connection with the Arraki as I do with the X-Men, but Hickman and Howard do a good job making their opponents more than cool-looking action figures. And they wrap things up with a high energy conversation between Apocalypse and Saturnyne that puts the entire event into perspective. The poses that Pepe Larraz and Mahmud Asrar draw are both passive-aggressive and melodramatic and work well with Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard’s razor-sharp dialogue. If I wasn’t before, I am ready for some sword-wielding mutants to throw down. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy

The Autumnal #2 (Vault) – Daniel Kraus, Chris Shehan, and Jason Wordie craft a slow burn rural horror-meets-family drama story in The Autumnal #2. Kraus’ pacing is pitch-perfect as our protagonist, neck tattoo sporting/ex-rocker-turned single mom Kat goes from being distrustful and snarky toward the “neighborliness” of the people of the town she’s moved in to embracing as her daughter Sybil plays in leaves with some kids across the street. But, nope, life in Autumnal doesn’t work like that, and Kat and Sybil are still outsiders and feared/shunned by the other residents of the town. Wordie embraces fall colors for the most part with his palette, and like Kat and Sybil in the story, lulls readers into a false sense of security before unleashing the reds and blacks of a horror comics. Line art-wise, Shehan evokes the soft, easy to follow rural calm of Jeff Lemire’s creator-owned work, but goes loose and harsh any time Kat feels insecure about her new town or being a single mom. Form and content really complement each other in Autumnal #2, and Daniel Kraus and Chris Shehan always keep the fun, authentic-feeling relationship between Kat and Sybil at the forefront even as they go weirder with the plot. Overall: 8.0 Verdict: Buy

Brett

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1 (IDW Publishing) – After a lot of anticipation and a wait, we finally get to see what the Last Ronin is all about. One Turtle remains, with his brothers and mentor having been wiped out. Which Turtle is it? Who did it? It’s all here! The story is pretty simple, one of revenge, with a setting and style that feels like TMNT’s take on The Dark Knight Returns. That’s not a bad thing at all as it fits really well and keeps the story to a simplistic revenge tale. That simplicity helps in some ways keeping the story focused on the action and for readers to keep guessing as to which Turtle they’re reading about and what happened. This is definitely going to become a classic if it keeps up this quality. It’s a comic that lives up to the hype. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: 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 (**).

Review: Heavy #1 Puts a Fun Spin on the Man-Pain Vigilante Genre

Heavy #1

Writer Max Bemis, artist Eryk Donovan, and colorist Cris Peter deconstruct the shit out of the whole “bad guy kills a good guys wife so he becomes a vigilante and takes revenge on them” genre in Heavy #1. The premise of the comic is that Bill lost both his wife and his life to the bullets of an Irish mobster and got stranded in a place called The Wait. Think Purgatory, but more Uber and less Dante. He plays the role of “Heavy” in The Wait killing and using violence to keep the multiverse “righteous” and maybe be reunited with his wife one day. Bemis mines a vein of dark humor in Heavy and couples it with a little of the old ultraviolence from Donovan and Peter while also caring about Bill’s mental health.

Heavy #1 is a laugh out loud funny and outrageous satire of the old tough guy mentality. Bemis’ script makes many references to action movies and heroes while undercutting their tropes. For example, Bill isn’t good at his Heavy job because he was ex-military; he’s good because of the non-stop repetition of his work. If something is the only thing you do all day, every day, you’re bound to get good at it. Donovan and Peter illustrate this in a single jaw-dropping image of Bill doing cool things with guns over and over. But then Bemis undercuts it with a quick one-liner as if taunting the reader to not find fist pumping entertainment value from Bill doing badass things when he’s basically the gun-toting anti-hero version of Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the hill.

This rhythm of badass thing followed by joke at the badass thing’s expense starts in basically the first scene of the comic where Bill gives a teenage bully a taste of his own medicine with a powerful punch and an acid drop of pink. Then, Bill is back in office with his boss Kyle, who is yelling at one of her other Heavies. It adds a touch of humanity to Bill as a character. He’s Charlie Brown getting the football yanked out from under him, but with more violence and weirdness. Max Bemis and Eryk Donovan even take some time to riff on the whole flashback visions of the dead wife trope, and while Cris Peter uses an extra-radiant palette for Bill’s dearly beloved, she gives him such a good advice as moving on and finding friends. But, of course, Bill doesn’t listen, and he won’t even take a Heavy partner to give him a better chance of getting out of The Wait and finding bliss.

Seriously, Heavy #1 goes to some weird places and is a better book for it. It will probably take a life time of brain bleach for me to scrub out the image of an alternate universe Leonardo da Vinci, who has gone from designing futuristic machines, to creating machines to remove the unsuspecting citizens of Renaissance Italy’s colons whilst indulging his foot fetish and lounging with his cock out. But that’s the mark of a good artist, and Eryk Donovan is perfectly fine indulging in absurdity while Cris Peter adds garish colors that symbolize both decadence and carnage. Because who needs photoreality when you’ve got pinks and oranges blasting through the Vatican, and Bill landing cheesy, yet epic one-liners about da Vinci forgetting to invent bullets while he was too busy doing his steampunk thing. And when he gets to do that, Bemis and Donovan remind readers that Bill is an incredibly competent killer thanks to his hours of practice and not much else going on. But he definitely needs some help in the mental health and self-actualization department.

Max Bemis takes the dark humor of both his songs with Say Anything and great comics like Moon Knight and Foolkiller combines it with unparalleled violence and wild, eye-popping visuals from Eryk Donovan and Cris Peter. There’s also strong, Vertigo-style supernatural world-building with tongue firmly placed in cheek; think less Sandman and more Preacher. Whether you like vibing out and thinking about the multiverse, afterlife, and moral philosophy, or just reading about a guy who kills the shit out of people thanks to his ever-present man-pain, Heavy #1 is a strong debut and the comic for you.

Story: Max Bemis Art: Eryk Donovan
Colors: Cris Peter Letters: Taylor Esposito

Story: 8.4 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics

Heavy #1 Has Sold Out and Gets a New Printing

The first issue of Heavy,  Vault‘s newest series, sold out at the distributor the day it went on sale. The series saw the largest influx of immediate on-sale date reorders in the publishers history. The issue is being rushed back to print. A new cover and release date for the second printing will be announced soon.

Heavy is co-created by writer Max Bemis, and artist Eryk Donovan, with colors by Cris Peter, letters by Taylor Esposito, and designs by Tim Daniel.

Bill may be dead, but he’s got a job to do.Welcome to the Big Wait, where folks who do’t quite make the cut go to work off their debt. Everyone in the Wait’s got a job. Bill is a Heavy, whose job is policing the multiverse, making sure bad eggs get what’s coming to them. He’s on track to earn his Climb and reunite with the woman he loves… until he meets his new partner: the worst dude of all time.

Heavy is The Punisher for neurotics; Inception for the impatient; Preacher for… well, it’s a lot like Preacher. Max Bemis and Eryk Donovan bring you a story about the existential purpose of dumb boys with big guns.

Heavy #1

Comics Deserve Better Episode 9: Copra Round One by Michel Fiffe

In the penultimate episode of this season of Comics Deserve Better, Brian, Darci, and Logan talk about the re-release of the Scott Pilgrim beat ’em up and the Little Bird prequel. However, the main attraction is a lively chat about Michel Fiffe‘s ass-kicking Silver Age-Ditko-meets-Bronze-Age-Ostrander pastiche, Copra. Other comics mentioned, include On the Stump, Klaus Hargreeves’ solo comic, Slaughterhouse-Five, Flower of the Deep Sleep, and Heavy #1.

Review: Heavy #1

Heavy #1

Bill may be dead, but he’s got a job to do. Welcome to the Big Wait, where folks who don’t quite make the cut go to work off their debt. Everyone in the Wait’s got a job. Bill is a Heavy, whose job is policing the multiverse, making sure bad eggs get what’s coming to them. He’s on track to earn his Climb and reunite with the woman he loves… Heavy is The Punisher for neurotics; Inception for the impatient; Preacher for…well, it’s a lot like Preacher. Max Bemis and Eryk Donavan bring you a story about the existential purpose of dumb boys with big guns in Heavy #1.

Max Bemis is one of those writers that I don’t tend to follow from comic to comic, but I always seem to enjoy the comics he writes to the point where I was on the fence about reading Heavy #1 until I saw Bemis’ name attached to the project. His dry sense of humor is evident throughout the pages of the comic as Bill’s snide and sarcastic comments drive his narrative through some spectacularly violent moments. This is a comic that opens with a middle-aged man breaking a teenager’s nose because we can only assume based on the knowledge we get a little further on, he deserved it on a cosmic scale of justice.

In fairness, compared to some of the other folks Bill encounters, the teenager got pretty lucky.

Comparisons to the Punisher are inevitable given that this is a character killing and otherwise injuring those who are guilty of some crime against the space/time continuum, but that’s where the similarities end (though it is really useful to be able to say “start with the thought of it’s like the Punisher meets Preacher, but its far more fun”). Whereas Frank Castle is a grim, determined guy with no shits to give who can stop his mission at any time (but won’t), Bill has a clearly defined end goal, a whole lot of self-pity, and a wry appreciation of what he has to do if he is going to finally move on with his (after)life.

Artistically, Eryk Donovan and Cris Peter are really solid. There are some suitably eclectic pages in the comic when it comes to the odd page (but what would you expect from a book whose main character has killed 14 different versions of the same person), and it helps to make the comic one of the more visually exciting reads on the racks. There’s an energy to the art that really encourages you to read the book at an equivalent pace to match what you’re seeing on the page, which can make you miss some of the details in the art itself. It’s an odd conflict, and one that may have been specific to me, but if nothing else it encourages you to read the book twice before you put it down.

Fortunately, it’s a book that’s more than good enough to read twice anyway.

Vault Comics have been publishing some absolute corkers recently, and Heavy #1 is another on a growing list of Must Read comics.

Writer: Max Bemis Art: Eryk Donovan
Colorist: Cris Peter Letterer: Taylor Esposito

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Seven Secrets #2

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Batman #99 (DC Comics) – Easily the best issue of “Joker War” so far. This is the point where it finally comes together and gets us hyped for Batman #100.

Detective Comics #1027 (DC Comics) – DC celebrates 1000 issues since Batman’s debut. It’s packed full of creators and as always these are a fun read.

Giant-Size X-Men: Storm #1 (Marvel) – Storm is supposed to get the spotlight soon and it begins with this issue. It’ll be a key one from our reading of things.

Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison (Abrams Comicarts) – Journalist Sarah Mirk tell the stories of ten people whose lives were shaped by the prison including prisoners, lawyers, social workers, and service members.

Heavy #1 (Vault Comics) – The series is going to be a hit. We already have two positive reviews and more on the way. Read our reviews here and here.

Iron Man #1 (Marvel) – A new volume and a back to basics. We’re excited to see what Christopher Cantwell brings as a writer because his Doom has been amazing.

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio (Abrams Comicarts) – If you don’t know the history, this is a good place the start.

The Mueller Report (IDW Publishing) – We’ve been excited for this since it was announced. Shannon Wheeler and Steve Duin take on the infamous report giving their own entertaining spin.

Seven Secrets #2 (BOOM! Studios) – The first issue was a lot of fun about a secret order protecting something that could potentially change/destroy the world. We’re excited to see where this series goes from the debut and if it can keep up the energy.

Slaughterhouse-Five (BOOM! Studios) – The classic book is adapted into comics for the first time.

Stillwater #1 (Image Comics) – A new horror series from Chip Zdarsky, Mike Spicer, and Ramon K. Perez. Those names alone make it a buy.

Tenacious D: Post Apocalypto (Fantagraphics) -Tenacious D comes to comics in this graphic novel! “Music” comics are a big thing right now and this graphic novel is sure to be wanted by fans of the band.

You Look Like Death: Tales from the Umbrella Academy #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – We loved the issue and you can read our review here. If you’re an Umbrella Academy fan, it’s a buy.

Early Review: Heavy #1

Heavy #1

Purgatory. Limbo. Outside of Dante’s Divine Comedy, these are concepts rarely touched upon in the commonly dichotomous concepts of heaven and hell. What if, instead of a person’s entrance to heaven or hell being predicated on what they did over the course of their life, a person had a chance to earn their place in heaven after their death? That’s the question posed by Heavy #1. This new series from Titan Comics is due out on September 16th.

In Heavy #1, writer Max Bemis explores how far one man is willing to go in order to ascend to heaven and be reunited with his wife. To earn his way to heaven, Bill is sent all over the multiverse. He works as an enforcer, protecting timelines and dealing punishment to the villains of history. Bill’s tough guy persona quickly drew me to the character but it was his sensitive side that won me over. It’s not common to see the hero in an action story motivated by feelings that come off as believable and realistic. As if the premise, plot, and character development weren’t enough to draw me in, the first issue also ended with a shocking reveal. Throughout the first half of the comic, I wasn’t impressed with the artwork. It was good but not spectacular. Then, I got to an aerial fight scene and was blown away. The framing of the panels is dynamic and the colors are quite striking.

Heavy #1 is an action packed, existential thrill ride. Just like a multiverse, the story could branch from here into any number of possible storylines as Bill continues his quest to be reunited with his wife. For an action comic with a science-fiction twist, the story has quite a bit of heart. Readers will find themselves invested in the plot after only a few pages. Be sure to pick up Heavy #1 when it releases on September 16th.

Story: Max Bemis Art: Eryk Donovan
Color: Cris Peter Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

Vault Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXology

Advance Review: Heavy #1

Heavy #1

Bill may be dead, but he’s got a job to do. Welcome to the Big Wait, where folks who don’t quite make the cut go to work off their debt. Everyone in the Wait’s got a job. Bill is a Heavy, whose job is policing the multiverse, making sure bad eggs get what’s coming to them. He’s on track to earn his Climb and reunite with the woman he loves… Heavy is The Punisher for neurotics; Inception for the impatient; Preacher for…well, it’s a lot like Preacher. Max Bemis and Eryk Donavan bring you a story about the existential purpose of dumb boys with big guns in Heavy #1.

Max Bemis is one of those writers that I don’t tend to follow from comic to comic, but I always seem to enjoy the comics he writes to the point where I was on the fence about reading Heavy #1 until I saw Bemis’ name attached to the project. His dry sense of humor is evident throughout the pages of the comic as Bill’s snide and sarcastic comments drive his narrative through some spectacularly violent moments. This is a comic that opens with a middle-aged man breaking a teenager’s nose because we can only assume based on the knowledge we get a little further on, he deserved it on a cosmic scale of justice.

In fairness, compared to some of the other folks Bill encounters, the teenager got pretty lucky.

Comparisons to the Punisher are inevitable given that this is a character killing and otherwise injuring those who are guilty of some crime against the space/time continuum, but that’s where the similarities end (though it is really useful to be able to say “start with the thought of it’s like the Punisher meets Preacher, but its far more fun”). Whereas Frank Castle is a grim, determined guy with no shits to give who can stop his mission at any time (but won’t), Bill has a clearly defined end goal, a whole lot of self-pity, and a wry appreciation of what he has to do if he is going to finally move on with his (after)life.

Artistically, Eryk Donovan and Cris Peter are really solid. There are some suitably eclectic pages in the comic when it comes to the odd page (but what would you expect from a book whose main character has killed 14 different versions of the same person), and it helps to make the comic one of the more visually exciting reads on the racks. There’s an energy to the art that really encourages you to read the book at an equivalent pace to match what you’re seeing on the page, which can make you miss some of the details in the art itself. It’s an odd conflict, and one that may have been specific to me, but if nothing else it encourages you to read the book twice before you put it down.

Fortunately, it’s a book that’s more than good enough to read twice anyway.

Vault Comics have been publishing some absolute corkers recently, and Heavy #1 is another on a growing list of Must Read comics.

Writer: Max Bemis Art: Eryk Donovan
Colorist: Cris Peter Letterer: Taylor Esposito

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Pre-order: comiXology

Heavy and Hundred Wolves Get New Release Dates from Vault Comics

Vault Comics announced that two upcoming series, Heavy and Hundred Wolves will now both be released in September 2020. Heavy #1 will now be released on September 9th, 2020, and Hundred Wolves #1 will be released on September 16th, 2020.

Heavy is co-created by writer Max Bemis and Eryk Donovan, with colors by Cris Peter, letters by Taylor Esposito, and design by Tim Daniel. Heavy is a dark, violent comedy about love and the transcendence of toxic masculinity. The story centers on Bill, who, though he may be dead, still has a job to do. Welcome to the Big Wait, where folks who don’t quite make the cut go to work off their debt. Everyone in the Wait’s got a job. Bill is a Heavy, whose job is policing the multiverse, making sure bad eggs get what’s coming to them. He’s on track to earn his Climb and reunite with the woman he loves…until he meets his new partner: the worst dude of all time. Heavy is The Punisher for neurotics; Inception for the impatient; Preacher for…well, it’s a lot like Preacher. Max Bemis and Eryk Donavan bring you a story about the existential purpose of dumb boys with big guns.

Hundred Wolves is co-created by writer Myke Cole and artist Tony Akins, with colors by Vladimir Popov, letters by Jim Campbell, and design by Tim Daniel. The Hundred Wolves are bloody-handed terrors of the steppe. Andrei and Oksana have left the Cossack band to raise their daughter on a farm they hold from the noble Count Ostoja, but the raiding life isn’t done with them. Both the Hundred Wolves and the couple’s new liege lord wish to employ their deadly skills—and neither will take no for an answer. From celebrated author Myke Cole and venerable artist Tony Akins comes a story of war and family, blending historical fiction with a touch of fantasy.

Look for Heavy #1 and Hundred Wolves #1 in the July 2020 Previews catalog.

Almost American
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